Showroom Cinema: ‘Be there or be square’

editorial image

Many films of the last couple of years have held a biting satirical streak. From Death of Stalin and Get Out to Downsizing and I, Tonya – so many stories are fixed on examining the state of the world through different smokes and mirrors - and there is much in our current political climate that could do with a little picking apart.

Possibly inspired by the global rise of authoritarianism and showman politics, or by our ongoing obsessions with social media and the broadcasting of sanitised and aspirational versions of ourselves: The Square is a very exciting and nail bitingly gripping film. It might be a film about fake news and introspection; nationalism and populism, self-preservation and selfishness; and it definitely tells a tale of privilege, cruelty, double standards and guilt.

It seems to have taken an age to arrive in cinemas after taking the top prize at last year’s Cannes film festival and being nominated for this year’s best foreign language film at the Oscars but Ruben Östlund’s The Square is finally at the Showroom from Friday. It’s a brilliantly funny, bracingly surreal modern art-world satire starring Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss and Dominic West. Audacious and outrageously provocative, The Square also contains more humane notes and an eye for the subtlety of human behaviour amidst its masterly dissection of the pretensions of high art and the occasionally herd like timidity of its followers. Incredibly gripping, this is a study of communication and culture in the digital age that centres on the eminently earnest, refined and stylish Christian, the curator of Stockholm’s most prestigious contemporary art museum. His next big show is ‘The Square’, a bold new installation that aims to tackle themes of humanity, selflessness and philanthropy in a bid to increase social responsibility and mutual respect. However, all goes wild when Christian’s own morals become in jeopardy after he becomes victim of a phone theft confidence trick, at the same time as his PR team is cooking up an elaborate media campaign to attract visitors to the exhibition.

Existential crises abound to hilarious and surreally terrifying effect and everything is a spectacle. This isn’t just a film about the art world but one which speaks much more broadly about society and what it means to be human.

If you like your art more traditional then we have more lovely stuff to look at on Tuesday and Saturday at the Showroom in Vincent Van Gogh: A New Way of Seeing.

Perhaps more than any other artist, Van Gogh’s life has long captured the imagination of storytellers. Delving deep into his fascinating and sometimes deeply troubled world comes this definitive, award-winning documentary directed by David Bickerstaff. This is your own personal tour of the collection, showcasing his artwork like never before.