‘(Untitled)’ doesn’t try hard enough

Posted: November 12, 2009

"(Untitled)" isn't untitled - its title is a hint that it has something to do with contemporary art.

The movie (directed by "Bartelby" helmer Jonathan Parker) stars Adam Goldberg and Eion Bailey as contrasting brothers. Goldberg's a poor and obscure composer of atonal music, the other guy a rich and successful painter of soulless hotel art.

Right away, you wonder if the filmmakers are trying hard enough. They cast the blandly handsome Bailey as the vacuous artist, the bearded, glaring Goldberg as the difficult genius. Wouldn't it have been interesting to switch it up? (Or cast two guys who you might remotely believe to be brothers?)

Parker has more luck with the character of Madeleine Gray (foxy Marley Shelton), a gallery owner who uses the profits from slick, successful artists to underwrite the misunderstood and undervalued work of guys like Goldberg's composer.

Gray is thankfully more than a cynical, money-changing promoter - she believes in her own taste, and in the cause of finding and subsidizing worthwhile art. It helps that she's willing to sleep with guys in whom she believes, giving the movie a much-needed pulse.

Still, satire is the movie's main aim, and it's the least effective aspect of "Untitled." Fatuous patrons, self-promoting artists, frauds, mercenaries, none of these art-world types amounts to much.

Worse, none of the main characters learns, grows or changes much. Well, I take that back - Shelton changes almost constantly, if you're talking about her wardrobe.

She has a fantastic collection of pretentious outfits, and an even more compelling collection of underwear.

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