Written by: Catherine DiNapoli, Jonathan Parker
Directed by: Jonathan Parker
Starring: Adam Goldberg, Eoin Bailey, Marley Shelton, Lucy Punch, Vinnie Jones
(Untitled) is the story of Adrian Jacob (Adam Goldberg), an experimental musician and disgruntled human being. Adrian’s art is fueled by some sense of disappointment, with the world, with his parents, with music, with art, which whatever. The problem is that his music is is too conceptual to hold the attention of a real audience, and his personality is too dour to attract investors, not that he really cares.
(Untitled), as a parody of contemporary art is immaculate. Director/co-writer Jonathan Parker, along with the help of artists such as David Lang and Kyle Ng, construct an art scene that slices straight to the bone of the absurdities of the art world, but contains no contempt. Vinnie Jones’ Ray Barko is an analogue for Damien Hirst, with his bizarre taxidermy pieces and theories of “art as an administrative process.” Ptolemy Slocum’s Monroe is the weird, silent type of artist who is so surrounded by his own personality that people can’t seem to tell how good of an artist he really is (or isn’t). Adrian’s brother Josh (Eoin Bailey) is the kind of artist whose work is dull and uninspired, but sells so well that avant-garde gallery owner Madeline Gray (Marley Shelton) can support her absurd exhibits with sale’s of Josh’s pieces alone. The humour in (Untitled) is a real delight as it plays itself totally straight the whole way through and sometimes it’s hard to tell that the artists and collectors in this film are constantly yammering and manage to never say a thing.
The cleverest part of the film, on the part of Parker, is the way the sound editing works. Madeline is always wearing an article of clothing that crunches or swishes or squeaks and while at first nothing is said of it, eventually Adrian becomes attracted to her, no doubt because she physically embodies the type of sound work he’s striving towards in his bizarre compositions. In any scene featuring Adrian, the background noise is amplified and exaggerated and works to show the audience the way Adrian is constantly recognizing rhythms in the chaotic white noise of the city.
The movie is remarkably funny, with excellent performances and is full of mock-art that is so well-made, there is no doubt it would be right at home in many galleries. The seeming warmth towards conceptual art becomes muddled in the end, however, when both conceptual and commercial artists have barely grown at all. Josh stops selling as well and Adrian is last seen composing a piece of an arguably more traditional style.