Friday, September 17, 2010

Film Yap: Boogie Woogie

There’s something about the art community that is different than any other sort of creative medium. People can be obsessed with movies or books, but there is this amazing elitism around “art.” This is the subject of Duncan Ward’s first feature film, Boogie Woogie.

There are plenty of characters centered around Art Spindle (Danny Huston) and his art gallery. Gillian Anderson and Stellan Skarsgård are a married couple who are obsessed with owning the best pieces. Heather Graham has worked for Art for years and is now looking to branch out. Amanda Syefried is the new girl who attracts the eye of everyone.

Alan Cumming is too nice of a guy and his ideas are always being shot down. Christopher Lee owns a very rare piece named “Boogie Woogie” that is the prize of his collection, but he doesn’t want to sell it despite how much they need money. Jaime Winstone is a radical new artist who is experimenting in video art, which includes documenting all of the intimate moments of her days. Jack Huston is more interested in perception art.

As expected, storylines converge and passion is heated among many of the characters. There are moments of cleverness as Ward and Moynihan play out their satire of the higher class but there is nothing that completely sticks. Most of the plotlines play out as expected, especially with Cumming and Graham.

It takes too long to set up the characters and they only really exist in order to have a purpose in the satire. There is so much potential, though, and actors like Huston and Anderson really add emotional depth to what is beyond the script. The movie feels more like a pilot for a TV show than a stand-alone movie. Even as the arcs reach a definite conclusion, it still just feels like the beginning of interactions with this set.

With more time, I think more can play out with the characters and their relationships. This movie doesn’t really start to come alive until the second act. Characters are nothing without their conflicts and these characters don’t feel full until they expose themselves in conflict. (Yes, literally in some cases)

With the art world under the microscope, Ward and the screenwriter/novelist Danny Moynihan are surprisingly restrained. This keeps the movie in check, but it isn’t used for any emotional moments. Give this movie a little more bite and a bit more characterization and you can have a very solid movie.

This is an IFC DVD, which means, once again, there aren’t any bonus features. Unless you count a trailer and a TV spot as a bonus feature. Ohh, ohh, there’s also an interactive menu!

Film: 3 Yaps

Extras: 1 Yap

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