Director Dan Gilroy re-teams with his Nightcrawler stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo for another twisted movie, this time mixing together horror with satire for a gory takedown of the art world. Velvet Buzzsaw, which arrives soon on Netflix, debuted this weekend at Sundance to mostly favorable reviews, which celebrate the camp performances and the execution of a wild premise involving deadly paintings.Here’s what the critics are saying about Velvet Buzzsaw:How would one describe Velvet Buzzsaw?A high-end Final Destination… best viewed as pure horror camp. Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk CriticsA slasher movie with something to say. Matt Goldberg, ColliderA tarted-up throwback to a certain kind of trashy ’70s horror movie — a la Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? or Theater of Blood. Peter Debruge, VarietyIt’s like Bret Easton Ellis meeting John Carpenter in the bathroom at Art Basel. Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment WeeklyA work of art in its own right. You’ve never seen anything quite like Velvet Buzzsaw. Chris Evangelista, SlashfilmNothing if not unique, it’s an utterly bizarre film that could only have ever been made for a streamer like Netflix. Chris Bumbray, JoBlo s Movie EmporiumVelvet Buzzsaw is certainly unlike anything else you’re going to see this year on Netflix or any other streaming service. Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.comThis is a film that can’t be described. It simply has to be experienced for all the senses. Karen M. Peterson, AwardsCircuit.com(Photo by Netflix)But is it any good?Velvet Buzzsaw is a blast from start to finish. Matt Goldberg, ColliderThis movie is so preposterous, so profoundly weird, just hilarious and merciless and black-hearted from beginning to end. Meredith Borders, Bloody DisgustingVelvet is fun and silly and enjoyably outrageous. Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment WeeklyThe sillier and bloodier it gets, the better. Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk CriticsThere’s some kind of poetry to [what] he’s made here: a trashy thriller set in the world of high art. Dan Mecca, The Film StageEvery element combines to make this a polished, glossy film that feels as expensive as the creations within it. Karen M. Peterson, AwardsCircuit.comEven if Velvet Buzzsaw starts to sputter slightly after it’s made its point, it’s plenty exciting to witness the incredibly specific madness they whip up together. Emily Yoshida, VultureIt’s all somewhat amusing but rather arch. Todd McCarthy, Hollywood ReporterGilroy’s film needed to be 60% better or 20% worse in order to transcend the forgettable silliness of its existence. Dave Ehrlich, IndieWireFor lack of a better descriptor, the whole thing is a mess. Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist(Photo by Netflix)How does it compare to Nightcrawler?[It’s] a fitting companion piece to Nightcrawler. Peter Debruge, VarietyIt’s missing the weight of Nightcrawler, but that feels right. Meredith Borders, Bloody DisgustingVelvet Buzzsaw, as gleaming and sun-drenched as Nightcrawler is dark, is even more of an invective, and even more operatically heightened. Emily Yoshida, VultureVelvet Buzzsaw is worlds removed from Nightcrawler. While Nightcrawler was going for cerebral thrills, Velvet Buzzsaw is trafficking in gore-soaked comedy. Chris Evangelista, SlashfilmHow is Jake Gyllenhaal s performance?There’s never a moment when he’s not chewing scenery, but it works for the vibe of the film. Chris Bumbray, JoBlo s Movie Emporium[He’s] relishing another of those cartoonishly camp performances he’s increasingly drawn to in his middle age. Peter Debruge, VarietyGyllenhaal, who continues his transformation into full-blown quirky character actor, is a hoot. Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm[It’s ] a performance so big that it might not be able to fit on the screen of your iPhone. Dave Ehrlich, IndieWireDoes anyone else stand out?Every single performance is hilarious and memorable. Meredith Borders, Bloody DisgustingJohn Malkovich also shows up in an enjoyable cameo. Anthony Kaufman, Screen International(Photo by Netflix)What else can we look forward to?Velvet Buzzsaw is a terrific-looking film, with striking interiors and city vistas. Meredith Borders, Bloody DisgustingThe costumes are delightful and come to life in Robert Elswit’s art pop light. Dave Ehrlich, IndieWireCostume designers Trish Summerville and Isis Mussenden provide some inspired ensembles. Gregory Ellwood, The PlaylistIsis Mussenden and Trish Summerville’s nouveau-fashion costumes and James D. Bissell’s elaborate production design also help to create a full-scale and highly detailed send-up of the film’s high-brow milieu. Anthony Kaufman, Screen InternationalIt’s also an ambitious piece of work with unforgettable imagery and an ace ensemble. Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.comGyllenhaal’s Morf enters some kind of pantheon of quotably absurd characters alongside, say, Christopher Guest in Waiting for Guffman and all the Heathers. Emily Yoshida, VultureIs the satire effective?I would ve preferred a much stronger take from Gilroy than what we get here. Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk CriticsVelvet Buzzsaw would have been more effective as pure satire, as Gilroy doesn’t seem to have an affinity for the [horror] genre. Chris Bumbray, JoBlo s Movie EmporiumIt’s all very low common denominator humor centered on art world cliches. Gregory Ellwood, The PlaylistThere’s nothing lampooned here that we haven’t already seen before. Anthony Kaufman, Screen InternationalIf this movie tried to carry itself as a highbrow critique, it would be far more difficult to appreciate Gilroy’s point of view. Matt Goldberg, ColliderSuch fangless satire suggests that Gilroy is either unfamiliar with the art world, or loves it too much to dig any deeper. Dave Ehrlich, IndieWireWould a smarter film with more of a message be better? Maybe, but it probably wouldn’t be this off-the-wall, and what a tragedy that would be. Chris Evangelista, SlashfilmIs it still a good horror movie?[There’s] insane gore and even supernatural horror… once his paintings start, well, literally killing people, it becomes a full-blown riot. Meredith Borders, Bloody DisgustingVelvet Buzzsaw is unabashedly supernatural in its horror, with mixed results. Emily Yoshida, VultureIt’s a horror show that lacks broader social commentary; a handful of bloody murders and occasional jump-scares, with the occasional astute one-liner. Anthony Kaufman, Screen InternationalVelvet Buzzsaw streams on Netflix beginning on February 1.
This week in TV news includes a new gig for a Game of Thrones vet, HBO loses a driving force, a major TV reboot, and a flurry of new trailers.TOP STORYHBO Honcho Steps Down After 27 YearsThe chief executive of HBO, Richard Plepler abruptly stepped down on Thursday, the New York Times reported. The move comes mere months after AT T acquired the network’s corporate parent Time Warner. Mr. Plepler found he had less autonomy after the merger, according to two people familiar with his thinking, the Times wrote. HBO has won over 160 Emmys while Plepler oversaw the cable network giant that is home to Game of Thrones, Veep, Big Little Lies, The Sopranos, Deadwood, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Succession, and more.From Game of Thrones to Penny Dreadful(Photo by Steven Ferdman/Everett Collection)Margaery Tyrell has a new gig: Natalie Dormer will anchor the cast of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful continuation series, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels. The series takes place in 1938 Los Angeles, where Detective Tiago Vega (Daniel Zovatto) investigates a grisly murder and becomes embroiled in what the network describes as “an epic story that reflects the rich history of Los Angeles: from the building of the city’s first freeways and its deep traditions of Mexican-American folklore to the dangerous espionage actions of the Third Reich and the rise of radio evangelism.”Dormer will play Magda, “a supernatural demon who can take the appearance of anyone she chooses and manifests in a number of guises throughout the story. Charismatic, clever and chameleonic, Magda is a dangerous enemy and an invaluable ally.”Nathan Lane has also joined the cast as Lewis Michener, a veteran LAPD officer who partners with and mentors Vega and is “wise to the ways of the world and ruthless in pursuit of his goals.”Trailer Watch: Arrested Development, The OA, and MoreIf there’s one thing that’s true about Arrested Development, it’s that there’s always money in the banana stand. Another fact: the Bluths will have a party every single time someone in their family is released from prison. The Bluths say as much in the trailer for the second half of the series’ revived fifth season, which hits Netflix on March 15 below. Check out the first trailer above.Other recent TV trailers include The OA season 2 and Idris Elba’s Turn Up Charlie on Netflix. HBO s Barry season 2, and FX s Fosse/Verdon.The Masked Singer Winner UnmaskedAnd the winner is…T-Pain? The famously autotuned singer surprised the Fox reality hit’s judging panel of Robin Thicke, Nicole Scherzinger, Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy, and guest judge Kenan Thompson when he was revealed as the celebrity in the Monster costume, who wowed the judges with his powerful vocals all season. He beat Gladys Knight and Donny Osmond in the finals to take the crown. Yes, T-Pain beat Gladys Knight in a singing competition.90210 Revival Heads to FoxThe 90s nostalgia is real for Jason Priestley, Jennie Garth, Ian Ziering, Gabrielle Carteris, Brian Austin Green, and Tori Spelling — a.k.a. six of the original stars of classic teen soap Beverly Hills, 90210. The group is reuniting for a meta six-episode event series on the network that will see the six actors playing “heightened versions of themselves in a brand-new serialized drama — with a healthy dose of irreverence — that is inspired by their real lives and relationships.” According to Fox, the reboot will see the group reunite when one of them suggests it’s time to reboot their series, “but getting it going may make for an even more delicious soap than the reboot itself. What will happen when first loves, old romances, friends, and frenemies come back together, as this iconic cast — whom the whole world (born before 2000 anyway) watched grow up together — attempts to continue from where they left off?”Development News: The Baby-Sitters Club, Gremlins, and More(Photo by Warner Bros.)Netflix is developing an original live-action dramedy based on the bestselling book series The Baby-Sitters Club. The 10-episode contemporary series will follow the friendship and babysitting adventures of five BFFs — Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Stacey, and Dawn — in Stoneybrook, Connecticut, and is being shepherded by GLOW’s Rachel Shukert and Broad City’s Lucia Aniello.The upcoming Disney+ streaming service is tapping into its massive well of characters for a new series, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Book of Enchantment will put the spotlight on famous Disney villains, and is based on author Serena Valentino’s book series that focuses on villainous characters including the Beast, Ursula, and the witch from Snow White.Streaming service WarnerMedia is planning its own series based on properties it owns: an animated Gremlins series. According to Variety, it would be a period piece that follows Mr. Wing, “the Chinese grandfather played in the films by Keye Luke, as a young man as he goes on adventures with the friendly Mogwai Gizmo.”Casting: Superboy, Stargirl, and Superstore(Photo by DC Universe)Superboy is headed to Titans for season 2. The DC Universe streaming series has cast Joshua Orpin as Conner Kent. The Australian actor will play the “angsty teenager of steel,” who was glimpsed only in silhouette form in a bonus scene from the series’ season 1 finale. In other DC Universe news, Amy Smart has signed on to play the mother of the titular character in Stargirl. Now that she’s the mother of a high-schooler, Barbara Whitmore is jumping back into the workforce and trying to be a great mom for her daughter, new husband, and new stepson. Neil Jackson and Hunter Sansone will each play an “undisclosed DC character” in the series.This Is Us star Chrissy Metz is taking a quick trip to Superstore when she guest stars as a Cloud 9 human resources representative who is sent to St. Louis to investigate a flurry of publicly embarrassing tweets. Her episode will air in May. Real-life married couple Adam Brody and Leighton Meester will play on-screen loves in the season finale of Meester’s ABC sitcom Single Parents. Brody will play Maggie s ex, Derek, the musician father of her 7-year-old son Graham.Finally, Netflix announced new cast members joining season 2 of its sprawling sci-fi series Altered Carbon. Joining returning cast members Renee Elise Goldsberry and Chris Conner and the already-announced Anthony Mackie are Luke Cage’s Simone Missick, Dina Shihabi, Torben Liebrecht, and James Saito.
Ryan Fujitani for Rotten Tomatoes: Hotel Mumbai is an intense film. Knowing what the story was behind it, and knowing what you were able to portray in the film, what was the atmosphere like on set? I can t imagine there was a lot of laughter and joking around when the cameras were turned off.Armie Hammer: Yeah, you re not wrong. It was very different. Call My By Your Name was the film I shot right before this, where we were riding bicycles and drinking wine through the Italian countryside, and then I came to this, where we are in smoke-filled hotel hallways being chased by gunmen screaming at us in Urdu, and had no idea what was going on. It was really intense. The filming experience was brutal. It was a lot of time manifesting just fear and anxiety and adrenaline and all that stuff, and that wasn t the only reason why it was a more serious and somber filming experience, but also because we re telling the real story of people who went through these terrible traumatic events.We wanted to be respectful of that. We wanted to acknowledge that, yeah, we had the ability and safety net of calling cut if things ever got out of hand for us. The people in the hotel didn t. So that was something that was always on our mind. So the days were very heavy they were brutal and we compensated at night. By the minute we wrapped, we were like, F k. Alright guys, let s go to dinner. We need wine, we need something. Let s just chill. And everybody would just hang out with each other at night, and try to just joke, and try to find some levity, and just enjoy being with each other, knowing that the next day was going to be equally intense and equally brutal, and that we were going to have to do it over, and over, and over.RT: As harrowing an experience shooting the film must have been, would you say that you discovered anything new about yourself in the process, or was there something you discovered about the story you were portraying that surprised you?Hammer: I wish I could say, You know what I discovered about myself? That if I was in this situation I would try to X, Y, and Z. And I would try to be the hero in some way, or I would try to do whatever I could to save myself or save some lives. But ultimately, the thing that I walked away from it realizing was, these situations happen all the time, unfortunately, and we just had something like this happen down in Christchurch.This s t happens way too often. And the fact of the matter is, it f king sucks. There s no positive thing about this. I didn t walk away from the movie saying, Oh, well now I know this about myself. I walked away from it going, That f king sucks. What do we do to make sure that does not happen again? What can we do as a voting populace? What can we do as humanity? What can we do as people to ensure that this s t stops happening? There s no positive silver lining to things like this. There s no big lesson to learn. All you walk away from it going is, That s t sucks, and I don t want that to happen anymore. Hotel Mumbai opens in select theaters on Friday, March 22.
(Photo by Paramount Pictures. Thumbnail image: MGM, Warner Bros.)15 Fresh Olivia de Havilland MoviesOlivia de Havilland, the enduring icon of Hollywood s Golden Age, made her big screen debut in 1935 s A Midsummer Night s Dream at age 19. Barely out of high school, de Havilland was literally doing the same play in community theater just the year before. She was quickly signed into a studio contract with Warner Bros., where she was paired with Errol Flynn, igniting one of the top on-screen romantic couplings of the era.Released the same year as Midsummer, the first of their movies was Captain Blood, the swashbuckling classic that has excited audiences and critics for generations. De Havilland would be legally bound to Warner Bros. until 1945 after an acrimonious, lawsuit-filled split, but the 10-year triangle between she, Flynn, and Warners would produce a bounty of Fresh films, including The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, and The Adventures of Robin Hood. The latter 1938 movie was by far their most successful outing, a grand, colorful, Best Picture-nominated adventure. We called it one of the 300 Essential Movies you need to watch.Despite the steady roles and growing fame Warner Bros. provided, she flourished most creatively whenever escaping the binding clauses. She was loaned out to MGM for 1939 s Gone With the Wind, where she got her first Oscar nomination as Southern belle Melanie Hamilton. Similarly, she was seen by the Academy when working with Paramount in 1941 for the political romantic drama Hold Back the Dawn. After being released by Warners in the mid-1940s, shrewd role selection got her recognized for the rest of the decade, as she won the Best Actress Oscar for 1946 s To Each His Own and 1949 s The Heiress.1964 s Hush Hush, Sweet Charlotte would be her final Fresh movie (she would appear in just five more overall before retiring by 1980). It s a cracked-up psychological thriller starring other Golden Age legends – Bette Davis! Joseph Cotten! Agnes Moorehead! Mary Astor! – whose behind-the-scenes drama compares to the brazen madness on display. And now, we celebrate the life and career of true Hollywood royalty by presenting 15 Fresh Olivia de Havilland movies.