What do a self made drip-artiste, a 1970’s style con-guy, two idealistic hit men, and a godfather drug lord have in common? Apparently everything in first time director Joel Sotolongo’s black comedy, Work of Art.
Sotolongo sets the tempo with that universal monster to which most of us can relate; MONEY— and the lack, thereof. Art (Rene Fornari) is a sloppy looking janitor at a phony-as-they-come, junk art gallery. This gallery features the work of first time artists, lacking any possible kind of talent.
By some inexplicable miracle, Art owns a house, which he shares with his hippie-freak friend, named Buddy (Victor Mueller). Buddy meanders through a different job weekly, and at the moment, works as a courier. Not surprisingly, Art’s mortgage is in arrears by $15,000 (how is it not foreclosed???), and he and Buddy will soon be out on the street if they don’t come up with the money in one week.
Luckily, Buddy is a smooth talking, quick thinking, swindler-extraordinaire, and soon comes up with the notion that Art should become Arturo the artist, and create paintings worth a minimum of $7,000 each. And since we all know that such miracles do happen in that kinky world of artists and collectors, the mortgage is soon paid off and Art and Buddy live happily ever after. Well almost—until all varieties of gangsters infiltrate their lives…
Work of Art is by no means perfect, just as most films are not. For one thing, the audio seems poorly dubbed in some areas but not all. This makes for an aural annoyance that’s hard to overlook. Still, this highly convoluted—dare I say, ludicrous—slapstick does have moments of sheer brilliance, and that too is difficult to ignore. As hard as it is to fathom, Joel Sotolongo manages to pull off the impossible and tie up every loose end in his film of films, thus making Work of Art live up to its name—and then some.
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