It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"(Untitled)" picks a fight with its very title, which summarizes the f-you attitude of its hero, a composer of music that sounds like something you'd hear going on in the alley late at night. One of his compositions consists of a chain dropped into a can, a pennywhistle, loudly ripping paper, a bucket being kicked, the screams of a vocalist and squawks on a clarinet. He plays the piano with his elbows. Under the circumstances, it seems ungracious for him to complain about an audience member's cell phone.
This musician is named Adrian Jacobs (Adam Goldberg), a bearded thirtysomething who seems to have chugged a pint of bile. A good audience for him might consist of two dozen people; some walk out and the rest stare incredulously at the stage. One day his brother Josh (Eion Bailey) brings a date to his concert. This is Madeleine Gray (Marley Shelton), who runs a very, very avant-garde art gallery in Soho. Adrian asks he if can borrow her dress. It's made of shiny black plastic, it squeaks when she walks, and he thinks he can use the sound in his music.
"(Untitled)" is a comedy worthy of the best Woody Allen, and Adrian is not unlike Woody's persona: a sincere, intense, insecure nebbish, hopeless with women, aiming for greatness. He plays classical piano brilliantly, and with contempt. If his "serious" work appeals to very few people, that's too many for him. Josh, however, is raking in the dough with his canvases, which are snatched up in volume for the lobbies of hotels.
The movie plunges fearlessly but not brainlessly into the world of art so cutting edge it has run out of edges. Remember Damien Hirst, the British artist who inspired a firestorm when he won the Turner Prize for such works as a shark preserved in formaldehyde? One of Madeleine's clients is Ray Barko (Vinnie Jones), whose art consists of a dead cat splayed on a wall, a goose apparently buried in a wall up to its wings, and a montage for a monkey and vacuum cleaner. A rich client (Zak Orth) eats up this stuff. Lots of people do. I don't know if they enjoy it as much as I love my Edward Lear watercolors. Maybe they love it more.