Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Boogie Woogie

This deliciously perverse, splashy, lively collage of the high-end contemporary London art scene provides a guilty pleasure to students of sex, greed and manipulation. Aesthetics is beside the point.

April 23, 2010

-By Doris Toumarkine


filmjournal/photos/stylus/136091-Boogie_Woogie_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Not your run-of-the-mill Londoners, the characters in Boogie Woogie are a gaggle of (take your pick) hugely rich, greedy, sneaky, promiscuous, self-serving, coke-indulging, desperate denizens of the contemporary art world scheming as (again your pick) buyers, sellers, collectors, gallery drones, curators, publicists, creators and wannabes. Mostly all drool around a much-sought-after painting—Mondrian’s Boogie Woogie, the artist’s supposed first work.

The painting has long been the cherished prize of the ancient, stubborn, once-wealthy Alfred Rhinegold (Christopher Lee) and his younger, respectful wife Alfreda (Joanna Lumley, a far cry from her beloved role as the decadent party girl of “Absolutely Fabulous”). Alfreda, aware that hubby’s fortune (and hubby himself) is fast fading, makes a move to get it on the market.

Among those who would kill their first-born to get in on the deal and pry the painting from the intractable Alfred are aggressive gallery owner and chief schmoozer, ambi-sexual Art Spindle (Danny Huston), close to Alfreda, and the deep-pocketed collector Bob Maclestone (Stellan Skarsgard), who doesn’t let his marriage to the icy, sex-starved Jean (Gillian Anderson) get in the way of his affairs with the hot, young, fiercely ambitious gallery directors/assistants who eagerly accommodate him.

The embodiment of this 20-something warrior is Beth Freemantle (Heather Graham), who schemes to leave Art’s lair for her own gallery (thanks to Bob’s generosity and their intimacy). And there’s gallery girl Paige (Amanda Seyfried), whose financier dad bagged a fortune and helped launch his daughter before being caught and imprisoned for unspecified fraud.

Also inevitably inhabiting the decadent art world of Boogie Woogie is emerging young painter/hunk Jo (Jack Huston), who snorts coke and beds the horny older wives of extravagant collectors. Art as it relates to perception is his thing.

Standing off to the sides a bit (but don’t count her out) is Elaine (Jaime Winstone, daughter of Ray Winstone), a young lesbian video artist into cocaine and her always-wasted insignificant other, Joany (Meredith Ostrom). Toiling in their orbit but hungering for a gig with Art is Dewey (Alan Cumming), a sycophantic publicist/curator eventually dumped by Elaine, for whom he was a dear friend and promoter.

A wonderful cameo from Charlotte Rampling as Jean’s divorce lawyer Emille, hired to assure that Jean doesn’t lose her cheating husband’s art treasures, is enough to assuage some guilt at reveling in so damning a canvas. The film is also immensely helped by the fact that many behind the scenes (director Duncan Ward, writer Danny Moynihan, art curator/artist Damien Hirst, et al.) are of the art world.

No matter that Danny Huston and Alan Cumming really ham it up. After all, theirs is a world of excess, but nicely balanced by Lumley’s elegant Alfreda, along with her dignified, learned secretary/manservant Robert (Simon McBurney), who both give hope that some dignity prevails.

That Boogie Woogie is so entertaining suggests big-screen potential for the recent art-insider, Chelsea, New York-based novel Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him. The film also reminds that high-end, high-stakes collecting is just one more glamorous and movie-ready arena where sex, money, visual interest and very bad behavior converge and await our viewing pleasure.


Film Review: Boogie Woogie

This deliciously perverse, splashy, lively collage of the high-end contemporary London art scene provides a guilty pleasure to students of sex, greed and manipulation. Aesthetics is beside the point.

April 23, 2010

-By Doris Toumarkine


filmjournal/photos/stylus/136091-Boogie_Woogie_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Not your run-of-the-mill Londoners, the characters in Boogie Woogie are a gaggle of (take your pick) hugely rich, greedy, sneaky, promiscuous, self-serving, coke-indulging, desperate denizens of the contemporary art world scheming as (again your pick) buyers, sellers, collectors, gallery drones, curators, publicists, creators and wannabes. Mostly all drool around a much-sought-after painting—Mondrian’s Boogie Woogie, the artist’s supposed first work.

The painting has long been the cherished prize of the ancient, stubborn, once-wealthy Alfred Rhinegold (Christopher Lee) and his younger, respectful wife Alfreda (Joanna Lumley, a far cry from her beloved role as the decadent party girl of “Absolutely Fabulous”). Alfreda, aware that hubby’s fortune (and hubby himself) is fast fading, makes a move to get it on the market.

Among those who would kill their first-born to get in on the deal and pry the painting from the intractable Alfred are aggressive gallery owner and chief schmoozer, ambi-sexual Art Spindle (Danny Huston), close to Alfreda, and the deep-pocketed collector Bob Maclestone (Stellan Skarsgard), who doesn’t let his marriage to the icy, sex-starved Jean (Gillian Anderson) get in the way of his affairs with the hot, young, fiercely ambitious gallery directors/assistants who eagerly accommodate him.

The embodiment of this 20-something warrior is Beth Freemantle (Heather Graham), who schemes to leave Art’s lair for her own gallery (thanks to Bob’s generosity and their intimacy). And there’s gallery girl Paige (Amanda Seyfried), whose financier dad bagged a fortune and helped launch his daughter before being caught and imprisoned for unspecified fraud.

Also inevitably inhabiting the decadent art world of Boogie Woogie is emerging young painter/hunk Jo (Jack Huston), who snorts coke and beds the horny older wives of extravagant collectors. Art as it relates to perception is his thing.

Standing off to the sides a bit (but don’t count her out) is Elaine (Jaime Winstone, daughter of Ray Winstone), a young lesbian video artist into cocaine and her always-wasted insignificant other, Joany (Meredith Ostrom). Toiling in their orbit but hungering for a gig with Art is Dewey (Alan Cumming), a sycophantic publicist/curator eventually dumped by Elaine, for whom he was a dear friend and promoter.

A wonderful cameo from Charlotte Rampling as Jean’s divorce lawyer Emille, hired to assure that Jean doesn’t lose her cheating husband’s art treasures, is enough to assuage some guilt at reveling in so damning a canvas. The film is also immensely helped by the fact that many behind the scenes (director Duncan Ward, writer Danny Moynihan, art curator/artist Damien Hirst, et al.) are of the art world.

No matter that Danny Huston and Alan Cumming really ham it up. After all, theirs is a world of excess, but nicely balanced by Lumley’s elegant Alfreda, along with her dignified, learned secretary/manservant Robert (Simon McBurney), who both give hope that some dignity prevails.

That Boogie Woogie is so entertaining suggests big-screen potential for the recent art-insider, Chelsea, New York-based novel Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him. The film also reminds that high-end, high-stakes collecting is just one more glamorous and movie-ready arena where sex, money, visual interest and very bad behavior converge and await our viewing pleasure.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

20K on Earth
Film Review: 20,000 Days on Earth

Goth rocker turned postmodern bluesman Nick Cave turns himself inside-out for this transformative, electrifying documentary about the dark and often mundane wizardry of creativity. More »

Altina
Film Review: Altina

One artist's long, kaleidoscopic life is explored in detail in this comprehensive but somehow drab doc. More »

The Man on Her Mind
Film Review: The Man on Her Mind

Cutesiness carried to nauseating extremes. More »

Pirates
Film Review: The Pirates

For the undemanding, like Korean mass audiences who reportedly have made this the most-seen film in their history, this will serve. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

The Drop review
Film Review: The Drop

An excellent cast carries this familiar crime story that relies on revelations a little far-fetched. More »

Dolphin Tale 2
Film Review: Dolphin Tale 2

Handicapped dolphin Winter finds a new friend in this wholesome sequel to a family favorite. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here