Duncan Ward’s Sub-Altman Ensemble Spoof Boogie Woogie


Director Duncan Ward tries way too hard to nail a way too easy target in his sub-Altman ensemble spoof of the overpriced, overhyped, overly pretentious modern-art scene. Adapted by Danny Moynihan from his novel about the lunacy of the ’90s New York art scene, already a tired milieu for poking fun, Boogie Woogie‘s satire is so broad that transplanting it to modern-day London hasn’t changed much beyond the scenery. Subplots of slimy double-dealings and calculated love affairs all revolve around—oh, yes, they did—Art Spindle (Danny Huston, in the film’s only comically mannered, scene-stealing performance), a silver-tongued dealer with a boisterous and totally insincere laugh. His pretty assistants (Heather Graham, Amanda Seyfried) are shrewd careerists looking for the next big thing, and his favorite client (Stellan Skarsgård) cares more about the question “How much?” than he does about his own wife (Gillian Anderson). Other caricatures among the many include the predatory lesbian video artist (Jaime Winstone), her naïve friend and agent (Alan Cumming), and a graying collector too sentimental to sell the titular must-have piece (Christopher Lee). Damien Hirst is credited as the film’s art curator, which underlines its ultimate failing: How do you ridicule a scene that you’re chummy with?