Oct 19, 2009 11:46 AM EST

(Untitled) Is Simply Amazing!

(Untitled) Is Simply Amazing!
What is art? Can a thumbtack on an otherwise blank wall be a picture? Can someone kicking a bucket filled with chains be music? Most of us, with great reason, would say no. It takes more inherent talent to make art; more then just sticking a tack up on a wall or just making seemingly random noise. If that's you, go listen to Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. Go on, we'll wait. It was considered the 58th best album ever in Rolling Stone magazine's "Top 500 albums of all time." Listening to it you may think there's lots of improvising going on. On the contrary, these songs were notated and practiced, in order to be played the exact same way every time. Crazy, huh? If that's not enough, go into any modern art gallery and you will, more often then not, see an entire display of large white canvases with one red dot (or some variation thereof). It can't be art if every single painting looks the same, right? Now go listen to Chuck Berry's School Day and No Particular Place to Go. Pretty similar, huh? On the other hand, have you seen Monet's haystack series? Different times of the day and year, but the same ol' haystack. So what is art? Is art the thing itself or the idea of the thing? As musician Adrian Jacobs (played with a permanent scowl by Adam Goldberg) says in explaining the difference between music and noise, "Noise is unwanted." In the same way, art is wherever we want to see or hear it.
Adrian and his brother Josh (Eion Bailey) are both artists although Josh is a painter rather then a musician. The other big difference is that Josh is successful. His paintings are selling by the truckload to hospitals and hotels that like his soothing, non-confrontational pastel swirls. However, he wants to break free from what is making him successful and become a more revered painter. Adrian, on the other hand has no commercial success. He is lucky if he gets 6 people to come to his concerts and he feels dejected by it all. Then again, his music is praised for being beyond its time by "those in the know". The grass is always greener on the other side within an artist's world. Goldberg and Bailey play both brothers with enough narcissism and pity to, well, to come off as believable. Goldberg in particular shows the hurting tortured soul of someone who feels as if his dream, his vision, nay, his purpose for living is not understood. Those few and far between who do understand him, who praise the great advances he's making in atonal music, he berates and chase away. He wants to be upset and, in a way, he thinks everyone should feel as he does. That is until Madeline Gray (Marley Shelton) comes around. She is a modern art gallery owner, through whom Josh is selling all his paintings. In fact, Josh, and the revenue he creates, is the main reason she is able to keep her gallery open. She is invited by him to go to one of his brother's concerts and she is astonished, in a good way, by what she hears.
Marley Shelton's performance is as stunning as her bleach blond hair. She is the ultimate avant-garde connoisseur, the perpetual fan to all the misanthropes who grace her gallery. To her, everything can be art, down to the stylish, but very artsy, clothes she wears. Her wardrobe, especially at the beginning of the film, was extremely and unbelievably noisy, so much so, I thought them to be incredibly distracting and that perhaps there was a problem with the sound mixing. It turns out they were making a point, but I still think they could have brought it down a little in the mix. The original score, done masterfully by David Lang, is full of atonal crazy music like Adrian's and shows how it can be the sound of the city or the sound of a party or the sound of two brothers fighting. It is very creative how he incorporated the score into the sound design. One of Madeline's most prized artists is Ray Barko - played by Vinnie Jones. He is a well selling artist, whose art consists of taxidermied animals posed in awkward positions. At his shows he prattles on about how, "the past doesn't influence me, I influence it" and other such non-sequiturs that just add to the absurdity of the entire movie.
I must walk a fine line here. I understand that the film is a satire and that it takes what is real and pushes it just a little further to make it bizarre and therefore humorous. The problem is taking the real and pushing it a little farther - is art! There are people who would see the creations in this film and crave seeing or hearing more. I know these people! I know the artists who are just looking "to communicate, to express, to be loved." I know the patrons that see a chandelier made from dead possums as something deep and profound. So to say that the art or the artists depicted are over the top and ridiculous…truth is, no they're not. At times, they are bang on the money. Which is often sad to think about. But, as they say, "it's so funny cause it's so true."

Rating - A

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FlickDirect Movie Reviewer Marco Duran
Marco Duran, Reviewer
Marco wrote, directed and produced the feature film Within. He has lived in the Los Angeles area his whole life.You can follow his 140 character movie reviews on Twitter or friend him on Facebook.

Favorite Films: Fight Club, The Fountain, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Oldboy, Pulp Fiction, Children of Men, City of God, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Shawshank Redemption, Memento
Favorite Directors: Spike Jonze, Darren Aronofsky, Charlie Kaufman, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese
Favorite Composers: Clint Mansell, James Newton Howard, John Willimas, Howard Shore
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