‘The Square’ skewers the art world

Terry Notary, on top of the dinner table, plays performance artist Oleg in "The Square." — Courtesy Arte France Cinema

“The Square,” a Swedish satire of the art world, continues to play at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center this weekend. Screening on Saturday, Nov. 18, is Warren Miller’s international tour of the ski world, “Line of Descent.”

A critically acclaimed film and Cannes Palme d’Or winner, “The Square” is set in Stockholm. Christian (Claes Bang), a handsome and entitled museum curator, finds himself flummoxed in one absurdly comical incident after another. Director Ruben Östlund launches his satire of the art world with Christian seeming to help a woman in distress. Crowing over his heroic intervention, he discovers he’s been the victim of a flimflam, losing his wallet, his phone, and even his cufflinks.

Determined to retrieve his belongings, he uses GPS tracking to locate them in a low-income housing project, where he blankets the residents with flyers to get the perpetrators to confess. This action leads to stalking by an angry boy.

It becomes clear that Östlund is skewering a lot more than the art world. He also attacks the pretensions of white middle-class men and a society that ignores the homeless, immigrants, and other disadvantaged groups.

The latest installation at Christian’s museum is the eponymous square, a space set in the pavement at the front of the museum. It is intended to be a sanctuary for honorable social behavior. But Christian doesn’t pay attention to the museum’s marketers’ shocking plan for the exhibit, which goes viral.

Other wry actions include accidental sweeping-up of part of an exhibit made of gravel by artist Julian (Dominic West), and an appallingly funny episode about a condom after Christian has a one-night stand with journalist Anne (Elisabeth Moss). Finally, Oleg (performance artist Terry Notary) appears at a museum fundraising dinner as a chimp run amok.

Director Östlund presents a negative view of modern society. His approach to comedy is a cerebral one, making it easy to miss some of the humor in the film’s episodes. Viewers can get lost in the many different subjects he explores in the almost two-and-a-half-hour film. If “The Square” often meanders, it remains thought-provoking.

Warren Miller’s ‘Line of Descent’

Skiing promoter Warren Miller has released his 68th documentary about the sport. The film takes viewers around the world to look at skiers, from Squaw Valley and Jackson Hole in the U.S. to Mount Cook in New Zealand. One extreme ski adventure after another demonstrates how skiers have taken their chosen sport to greater and greater heights.

Prizes for audience members include a ski team raffle for Miller’s autobiography, “Freedom Found,” a pair of skis donated by Sportworks, and a helmet donated by Bern Unlimited, as well as other prizes. In addition to tickets, Film Society viewers will receive a lift ticket and a raffle ticket.

Information and tickets for these and other Film Society and Capawock films are available at mvfilmsociety.com.