“(Untitled)” a wicked new satire of the New York City art scene, focuses on two brothers, Josh and Adrian Jacobs.

Josh (Eion Bailey) has found incredible financial success selling his pleasant-but-unexceptional paintings for $10,000 a piece to doctor’s offices, law firms and hotel chains. Checking out his latest work in a busy hotel lobby, Josh assures Adrian that this is a worthy place for his work to be shown- “More people are going to see my work here than if it were hanging at MOMA.”

Adrian (Adam Goldberg) is an unsuccessful composer. Having decided that harmony is a “capitalist plot” he composes music that strains against most peoples conceptions of what music is. His pieces are hilarious in their detail. There is purposeful misplaying of instruments, not to mention sudden unexplainable wails, and a big finale, which includes dropping a chain into a bucket and then kicking the bucket repeatedly. These elements combine to produce pieces that are delightfully wretched.

Directed by: Jonathan Parker
Starring:Adam Goldberg, Eion Bailey, Marley Shelton, Vinnie Jones, Lucy Punch
Runtime: 96 min

In their search for artistic fulfillment, the brothers navigate a New York full of fascinating and hilarious characters. Director and co-writer Jonathan Parker has created a world that is both outlandish and completely believable.

Adrian and Josh get tangled up with snooty gallery owner Madeleine Gray, who is Josh’s broker. Madeleine is obsessed with having a hand in discovering the next Van Gogh. Because many great artists have been traditionally under appreciated in their own time, Madeleine is attracted to those who seem to lack any discernable talent.

That quality draws her to Adrian and pushes her way from Josh, whose financially viable works bankroll her search for the worst artist in New York, but don’t appeal to her need to discover the next great artist.

Every detail of Madeleine’s world feels spot-on- from the artist Ray Barko (Vinnie Jones) who lets others created his art for him (“he wants to prove the process can be administrative”) to the wealthy buyer who wants to diversify his portfolio by buying art he doesn’t understand.

The performances are excellent across the board. Marley Shelton is sexy and delightfully pretentious as Madeleine and she is well matched by Adam Goldberg’s brooding and oh-so-tortured turn. Eion Bailey’s work as Josh is pitch perfect. Bailey is able to capture Josh’s incredulity and disenchantment with the art scene while at the same time suggesting how desperately he desires to be accepted by it.

Josh’s obsessive need for critical feedback and Adrian’s intense desire to create something wholly original grounds the satire in real and true human emotion.

“(Untitled)” is a hilarious and pointed satire, but one that suggests an uncertain future for art and artists. The film is certainly over the top. But when I think of some of the truly outlandish art being created at the moment, I find myself wondering along with Josh, when he asks Madeleine near the end of the film, “When did beauty become so fucking ugly?” That’s a good question and one “(Untitled)” does not have an answer for.

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2 Responses

  1. Charles M. Strauss

    I saw (“Untitled”) at a sneak preview in Washington DC on 11/1/09. I loved it; it was amusing (in fact, laugh-till-the-milk-comes-out-of-your-nose hilarious in spots) without being excessively cruel (and I am the kind of person who finds Woody Allen and ‘Seinfeld’ to be excessively cruel). Anyone who has worked playing piano for parties or a cocktail lounge will immediately see how wonderfully accurate is the sociology of the screenplay and acting. There is a fight scene between the two brothers, carried out at night in a galley-type kitchen with darkened rooms at each end of the kitchen. As the brawl ranges up and down the kitchen and into the adjoining rooms, most of the scene is in darkness, with only the sounds of the fighting (mostly bodies knocking into kitchenware and appliances) apparent to the audience — and it sounds shockingly like the music composed and played by Adrian!! I’d like to specifically commend the performance (not mentioned in any of the reviews that I have seen) of the young woman who portrays the English horn player in Andrian’s performance group.


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