Starting from childhood attempts at illustration, the protagonist pursues his true obsession to art school. But as he learns how the art world really works, he finds that he must adapt his vision to the reality that confronts him.
Based on the true childhood experiences of Noah Baumbach and his brother, The Squid and the Whale tells the touching story of two young boys dealing with their parents' divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s.
Two bumbling store clerks inadvertently erase the footage from all of the tapes in their video rental store. In order to keep the business running, they re-shoot every film in the store with their own camera, with a budget of zero dollars.
Jerome, a kid from the suburbs who loves to draw, goes to New York City's Strathmore College for his freshman year as a drawing major. Competition and petty jealousy consume faculty and students, with an end-of-first-semester best-student award held out as a grand plum. Worse, a strangler is on the loose, killing people on or next to campus. The idealistic Jerome falls in love with Audrey, a student who models for life-drawing classes and who responds to his sweetness. But he has a rival: the clean-cut, manly Jonah, also a first-year drawing student, whose primitive work draws raves and Audrey's attention. As cynicism seems to corrode everything, Jerome is desperate to win. Written by
Much of the problem with Art School Confidential lies with the character of Jerome. Clowes writes graphic novels, and the main character he's written here is simply a cartoon figure with no depth to speak of. He falls much too fast from his ambition of becoming the world's greatest artist to someone willing to compromise his talent for the sake of coming in first in a college competition. Granted, he is pliable, aping whoever he happens to be with at the momentit's Bardo one moment, star alumnus Marvin Bushmiller (Adam Scott) the next and adopting the bitter, nihilistic rantings of failed artist Jimmy (Jim Broadbent) as if those beliefs were his own. This might all be interesting if Jerome was, say, the type of troubled, seeking boy that Minghella played in Bee Season. Sadly he is not, and though Minghella is a fine actor, there's not a lot he can do with what is essentially a stick figure.
That's not to say that Art School Confidential is completely worthless. Malkovich (who also produced) is very funny, and so is Broadbent, but mostly this feels like the type of comedy Jerome's roommate Vince might someday make: overly broad, obvious, and very self- conscious. It wants to be cool, it wants to be hip, but like Jerome in his quest to be the next Picasso, it's merely clueless.
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