Film Reviews

(Untitled) Aims High and Arty With a Standard Love Triangle

This film aims wide and misses, its satire of the contemporary-art scene seemingly lifted from the transcripts of late-'80s Senate debates about the NEA. It centers around two highly competitive brothers: Josh (Eion Bailey), a successful painter of dull hotel art; and Adrian (Adam Goldberg), a perpetually indignant, brow-furrowing composer of atonal music. Both of them fall for wildly ambitious New York gallerist Madeleine (Marley Shelton). Director Jonathan Parker, who cowrote with Catherine DiNapoli, wants to have it both ways, snidely mocking his protagonists and then granting them happy, art-affirming endings. Adrian scribbles furiously in his Moleskine, Madeleine wears noisy textured clothing (though Sarah Lawrence T's are her preferred sleepwear), and crybaby Josh wonders, "When did beauty become so fuckin' ugly?" Tepid spoofs of Damien Hirst and Charles Ray creations fall flat as finger-wagging proof of contemporary art's aesthetic bankruptcy, a Warholian-like aphasic thrown in for more laffs. (Untitled) tries to reignite who-gets-to-call-it-art debates that haven't been taken seriously for at least a decade — which may explain the recurring presence of a plastic bag that appears to have blown in off the set of American Beauty.

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Melissa Anderson is the senior film critic at the Village Voice, for which she first began writing in 2000. Her work also appears in the publications of the Voice’s film partner, Voice Media Group: LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Broward-Palm Beach New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.