February 20, 2019 The Signal page 17
‘Velvet Buzzsaw’ shreds expectations This week, WTSR Music Director Brian Marino highlights some of the best new music that the College’s own radio station, 91.3 FM WTSR, puts into its weekly rotation.
Left: Gyllenhal plays a haughty art critic. Right: The film straddles the line between horror and satire. By Cody Conrad Correspondent The new film “Velvet Buzzsaw” is caught between a quintessential chick flick and a tolerable horror film. If you take away the thrilling aspects of the new Netflix original, it’s about successful art gallery workers trying to make it big. The horror scenes are decent — they are not as terrifying as major movies like “The Conjuring” and “Hereditary,” but scary enough to make me shield my eyes. The movie is about the art gallery assistant Josephine struggling to make it big in the art world. She stumbles upon her recently deceased neighbor’s stash of art. The only downside is that anybody who profits from the art, gets killed by it. Throughout the rest of the movie, you see the characters trying to figure out what’s going on. “Buzzsaw” is a satirical piece about the art world and it’s crafted brilliantly to show just how crazy and cutthroat that industry really is while using killer art as its vessel. The distinct personalities of the characters are what makes the film somewhat memorable. Morf (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a bisexual art critic, whose reviews make or break the success of exhibits and artists. Josephina (Zawe Ashton) is an assistant to Rhodora (Rene Russo), the overbearing gallery director. Josephina, desperate to be successful, develops a cutthroat no-mercy attitude. Another notable main character is Gretchen (Toni Collette), an art museum curator who rises above her station and steps on those
underneath her. Some notable supporting actors include John Malkovich (Piers), Billy Magnussen (Bryson), Natalia Dyer (Coco) and Daveed Diggs (Damrish). The relationships between the art gallery members, such as Morf, Gretchen, Rhodora and Josephina, are defined by betrayals and secrets. Malkovich, who is best known for his dry humor and serious tone, plays an artist who has lost his touch and is trying to come back into fame again. Magnussen, who has previously starred in “Bridge of Spies” and Netflix originals “Maniac” and “Birdbox,” plays the creepy art gallery technician. Dyer, most famous for her role as Nancy in “Stranger Things,” plays a bubbly, overwhelmed gallery assistant. Finally, Diggs, who was made famous by the hit musical “Hamilton,” plays a successful street artist making it into the big leagues. The acting in this movie has its highs and lows. Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of Morf is so exemplary and his emotions are so genuine. In one scene, Gyllenhaal’s character, Morf, goes through a severe mental breakdown and you can feel the power in Gyllenhaal’s performance. Through yelling and body language, Gyllenhaal’s emotions come rushing out to the viewer and are almost tangible. Although Gyllenhaal is memorable, Ashton falls short. The way the character is written and the way that the director wants to portray Josephina doesn’t quite match up with the actress’ talent. In one scene, Ashton is supposed to be shocked and devastated, but instead we
are given a lifeless stare and a monotone voice. While that part was a little unsettling, the acting is otherwise quite good in the film. Collette, Malkovich, Magnussen, Dyer and Diggs all contribute quality acting to the movie and make it enjoyable to watch. At times, “Buzzsaw” is a spectacle for its visual artistry. The introduction is an animation similar to that of “Pink Panther” and “Catch Me If You Can.” Its style foreshadows the art that becomes the main subject of the film — when a new exhibit opens the TV screen splits to simultaneously reveal the art and the characters reactions to them. Out of the hundreds of movies that I have seen, this kind of cinematography is new and quite unprecedented. The audio in the film adds intensity to each scene. It is particularly important in the soundproof room scene, where Morf is examining a new art exhibit. When inside, his mental state begins to fall apart and he starts hearing voices. The film gives viewers the illusion that these voices are coming from the left, the right and even from behind. This effect creates an intimate and eerie sensation, which allows viewers to experience Morf’s breakdown alongside him. The scene ends with audio of a car skidding, which comes to a crescendo and suddenly stops to symbolize Morf’s fragile mental state, which adds to the eerie atmosphere. In short, if symbolism, good acting and a great plot are what you look for in a movie, then “Velvet Buzzsaw” provides a lasting escape from reality.
‘Romantic’ pokes fun at love story clichés By Amani Salahudeen Staff Writer
Romantic comedies have always been both a guilty pleasure and a joyful medium for me to poke fun at, and the new movie “Isn’t it Romantic?” has only reinforced this relationship. Natalie (Rebel Wilson) is an ambitious Australian architect who has despised rom-coms ever since she was a kid, when her mom (Jennifer Saunders) told her that plus-sized women will never have the chance to pursue the lifestyles that the typical female protagonist in those films so often depict. Although Natalie is clearly hardworking, she constantly feels a lack of appreciation for her efforts, specifically from her boss, Blake (Liam Hemsworth), who is notorious for treating her poorly. She begins to accept that she won’t be living the kind of lifestyle she dreams about — how could her fantasies come true when the world seems to conspire against her? Although she may have valid reasons to hate Blake, Natalie doesn’t seem to dwell on that negativity, especially since she
describes him as being “CW Hot.” Natalie is so caught up in her own thoughts that she doesn’t realize the way her co-worker, Josh (Adam Devine), sees her. (Will that potential crush bloom the same way it does in every rom-com film? You’ll have to watch and find out). Work, and her hot boss are the only thing on Natalie’s mind, until one night when she hits her head on a pole while running away from a mugger. Natalie suddenly finds herself living in a PG13 movie where she has a gay best friend named Donny (Brandon Scott Jones), a nicer version of her friend Whitney (Betty Gilpin) and a version of Josh who is entranced by a woman named Isabella (Priyanka Chopra Jonas). There are dance numbers and love galore in this new world, all of which are exactly like everything Natalie expressed such hated for in the beginning of the movie. As a comedy, the movie is pretty decent, but as far as the plot goes, I’ve seen better. While it mocks the cliche rom-com tropes, it still risks becoming one itself. As a satire, the movie should have focused more on comedy and less on cheesy romances and
Band Name: Hate Drugs Album Name: Tsunami Soul II Release Number: 1 Hailing From: California Genre: Surf Pop Rock Label: Young Tide Records Tsunami Soul II is for your beach-day necessities. Whether it is a sunny or cloudy, count on Hate Drugs to pump it up with upbeat guitar riffs and smooth vocals. The lyrics help you understand what it would be like to have a literal tsunami soul, where the ocean calls your name. Each song gives you a different vibe. You’ll hear everything from an acoustic melancholy song to an upbeat head-banging melody. I recommend you play every song because it will guarantee a tune that will forever stay in your head. Must Hear: “On My Own,” “Afterimage” and “Dizzy”
Band Name: The Aesthetics Album Name: Beat This Release Number: 4 Hailing From: San Francisco Genre: Soft Rock Label: Mountain House Recorders
Natalie finds herself stuck in a colorful rom-com. heartfelt takeaways. It tries to debunk the stereotypes surrounding rom-coms, like the commonlybelieved idea that women in a workplace can’t be friends, but it doesn’t do much to really make it hit home. The film’s main theme, “believe in yourself,” is cute but overused. I’ve seen the same message delivered more creatively
in films such as, “Shrek” and “Wreck-It-Ralph.” This is not to say that you won’t enjoy “Isn’t It Romantic,” but it’s definitely one of those movies you just need to see for yourself in order to figure out if you really like it or not. Parts of the film were too cringy for my liking, but I have to admit that as a comedy, I enjoyed it.
Beat This is a conglomeration of all the moods one goes through in a day. It is filled with long melodies that add great color and variety. The driving and powerful bass paired with the forceful drum hits and slightly twangy guitar licks produce a collaboration of greatness. I can and will see myself listening to these songs anywhere from my bedroom floor to a long and winding car ride — the kind where you pretend you are in the movies. Must Hear: “Thinking of You”
The 2/20/19 issue of The Signal, The College of New Jersey's student newspaper