Feb 5, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Adam Goldberg, Marley Shelton, Vinnie Jones.

Directed; by Johnathan Parker

Rated: R Run Time: 96

Grade B+

Untitled is a diamond-sharp and unsparing satire of pompous, New York gallery culture, so sharp in fact, it’s in constant danger of slicing clean through itself, and exposing the crude wire frame beneath its own artful patina. That the art world is chockablock with pretentious twits is far from the freshest premise, there were probably snobs turning up their noses at cave paintings, but writer director Jonathan Parker has a canny knack for making terminal self-absorption both hilarious and pitiable at the same time.

Adam Goldberg stars as Adrian, a seething mass of intellectual pique, who channels his rage into dreadful, atonal sound collages that instantly drive away all by the most stout music lovers. His compositions are a tedious collection of horn bleats and whistles, and his showstopper involves kicking a bucket full of chains. He’s so committed to destroying music from the inside out, he considers melody to be “a capitalist plot to sell pianos.” His more balanced brother Josh is equally untalented; his pastel paintings all look like Hubble telescope shots of nebulae, but they’re just bland enough to decorate corporate hotel lobbies and dentist offices. Though they turn a very tidy profit, Josh’s own broker Madeline (Marley Shelton) won’t hang them in her ultra-chic downtown art space. She’s more interested in seducing Adrian, and he’s game, because she’s hot, and her vinyl, metal and zipper laden fashionista wardrobe makes beautiful noise. In one of the film's funniest moments he can’t wait to get her skirt off, not just for the sex, but because he wants to record their crinkle sound. The biggest star in this silly, insular world, and also the biggest phony, is a Damien Hirst-style conceptualist played by Vinne Jones, who does things like staple roosters to walls or drape pearls on a pig carcass and call it good.

The humor is as spare as a Rothko, but as absurdly meta as a Warhol, though Parker pulls up just short of Christopher Guest spoof territory. The trouble is that when everyone is either a charlatan or a buffoon there’s no one to root for. These art-mad, egocentric twits all have it coming, but Parker saves his harshest fire for the critics who sit back and lob bombs. But hey, save your ammo, dude; I dig your work.

At the Burton Theatre.