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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
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I am honestly convinced that this movie was a joke. A joke played on all of us---the sort of people who go to the small independent theaters to see a movie like Art School Confidential. The movie was terrible because thats the point. Just because its an "indie" movie or a little bit offbeat, or has some interesting actors, we excuse the gut wrenching banality of this worthless piece of quasi-cinematic trash. Anyone who gives this movie a favorable review is just another part of the joke (and the point) that this movie tries to make. It warns movie fans who like to see interesting, artistic, thought-provoking films that we, the self-proclaimed "elite" moviegoers, can be just as idiotic as the people who pay nine dollars to see that new Miami Vice movie. Just because something ostensibly or superficially feels "hip" or "artsy" or cool, as this film does, does not mean it is art. Interestingly, thats also an important message we get from the actual film with the main character's experiences in art school, and the mere fact that it was so extraordinarily easy to glean that little theme from the film shows that this movie is not important for what actually happens, but rather because its existence and the overall shockingly positive response that fans show proves that even the cool, hip movie watchers need to be careful about what we are giving praise to. Those of us who went to see Art School Confidential probably hold hope that the film industry can still put out intelligent, complex movies that can help us grow and feel fulfilled. This movie warns that if we don't increase our vigilance, independent film will go the way of Hollywood. While I respect the folks who would make such a terrible film as a warning to us all, I still wish they'd give me my 6 bucks back, and two hours of my life.
This further collaboration between Zwigoff and Clowes is less
successful than their first, the haunting and subtle 2001 Ghost World.
This time they're overwhelmed by anger about what they see as the
corruption of the art world and clichés of art school.
Young art student hero Jerome has a crude, How-to-Draw-book ability, but no style--and as his main teacher says, that's to be expected. But he's also a blank slate of a character, though Max Minghella is appealing and can project emotion cleanly. Art as Clowes/Zwigoff see it isn't such a high calling anyway: it seems to be a way to bypass the bullies that beat Jerome when he was a kid and get laid by impressing girls. He even saw Picasso that way. Jerome picks the Strathmore Academy because of a picture of a pretty nude model who he chooses as the way to lose his virginity.
Hovering on the periphery of Strathmore is a serial killer who's strangled one of the students. Whether that's to liven things up or is a broad hint that art teachers or art dealers or artists themselves are little better than serial killers is hard to say. A basic flaw of Art School Confidential is that the academic satire doesn't sit very well with the serial killer plot. Clowes' (and perhaps also Zwigoff's) anger about pseudos and cheats is the engine that powers the thing but the ideas behind that are too many and too bitter, and the flimsy plot collapses under them. The story wants to mix machismo with sensitivity and misogyny with displeasure over commercialism, egotism, and boorishness in the art scene. It's fun at first but then it all gets horribly muddled.
We see in detail only one example of how the school is taught, Professor Sandiford's drawing class. Sandiford is played by John Malkovich, an actor who's such an expert at delicious meanness he might not just have been the most devastating critic but even bit off a slice of his Tom Ripley turn and delivered us the serial killer. But unfortunately Malkovich's duties as producer of the film and Clowes' writing seem to have conspired to blunt his usual edge. He seems poised to try to seduce Jerome at one point but then that too is blunted.
The characters in the school are simply drawn. An articulate but pretentious young man who's a conceptualist and just puts up words on the wall as his self-portrait is laughed at. An older student who knows nothing about art does naïve pictures of cars and appliances that are held up by all as brilliant. Jerome is jealous. He doesn't have a style and the search for one leads him quickly to plagiarism and outright theft -- first of the older student's work, then of paintings by an alcoholic, misogynous old graduate called Jimmy who Jerome's classmate Bardo (Joel David Moore) takes him to, played with dark relish by Jim Broadbent. Bardo is a returnee who's Clowes' mouthpiece and clues Jerome in on the follies of the place and its stock personalities, which abound. It's not quite clear why Jimmy's extreme negativism would appeal to Jerome, but he seems to be Clowes' image of the artist who doesn't sell out and so is ruined by the system. But Jimmy seems like an unlikely model for the dewy-eyed Jerome. If Jimmy is what it's like not to sell out, by all means let's sell out.
One roommate is a big fat would-be filmmaker who's already got a movie idea -- based on the serial killer -- and a family member to fund him. The other roommate is a fashion student who everybody but he himself knows is gay. Others are just colorless objects of desire like Audrey (Sophia Miles), who Jerome is in love with before he even sees her, or neutral devices like Bardo.
There is probably some truth in the idea enunciated by an obnoxious art superstar Strathmore graduate that art school is a waste of time. You can't learn to be a good artist; you either are or you aren't. Art school becomes only a place to hang out and kill time enjoyably; Sandiford points out on Day One that 95% of the students won't make money with their art. If you're serious, art school becomes a place to make connections and suck up to people. Having managed to become an artist myself while avoiding art school, I can only comment on the film's satire at second hand. This movie may contain truths, but it seems awfully uncool. I've long had the feeling a well-located art school -- on top of a hill, say, overlooking a pretty city, like one I actually know of -- so long as you could find sympathetic teachers, and avoid the more devastating critiques -- is one of the more idyllic ways to spend the last days of your youth. It doesn't seem to have turned out like that for Clowes or Zwigoff, and they, or Clowes, can't seem to get over the fact that they had a bad time there.
This is a movie today's art school students would want to see, even if it leaves them frustrated. I think it might even be instructive to any young artistic person. But as a movie it falls short. Clowes'and Zwigoff's anger is still so fresh after all these years it has blunted their wit.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'or the vulgar marketing sobriquet, "graphic novel"' - such as 'ice
haven' and 'david boring' - then you will like this movie.
its pretty much the same level of twistedness.
although i really really worry about that one big plot thing , i mean, isn't that horrible? the whole ... amorality of not dealing with it in the movie, makes it extra creepy. id prefer a nice happy ending like in 'david boring'.
the end of this one made me feel, you know, these main characters that i thought i so identified with and everything... yuck! thank god I'm -not- them and i wouldn't do what they do.
at least i hope i wouldn't.
anyways, zwygoff I'm glad you didn't have any young women having sex with 50 year old record collectors in this one. that was totally transparent and lame.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie sucks so bad! After reading a lot of comments from this and
other sites, I expected to see a movie with *at least* some brains.
Only 3 things stand out: the "message" is clear, the cast is adequate
(at best), and the film somehow manages to keep you entertained. This
last point is not trivial: in an era of superheroes, sequels, prequels
and whatnot, an entertaining movie is actually a commendable effort.
I'm afraid those are about the only nice things I have to say.
Everything in the film is treated in a very light-hearted fashion, yet it tries so hard to be funny it's just stupidly pretentious. Characters don't have ANY depth at all, and there are so many stereotypes it hurts Every cliché under the sun found its way into the movie, let's see: we have the alcoholic 'I-suck-as-an-artist' old guy who turns out to be not-so-wrecked after all, there's a fat pedantic roommate obsessed with sex and murder movies and a gay fashion-designer-wannabe roommate. 3 big clichés, right? Then there's a professor who thinks big of himself but is actually a failure, there's the hot chick who doesn't start liking our (anti)hero until the very end. That's 3 more so we've got 6 already. I don't wanna bore the hell out of you so I'll just leave it at 10: a murder sub-plot with the wrong suspect, a cool and kinda loony guy who runs a bar, an easy-going friend who knows his way around and has no expectations except partying and getting laid, and finally a love triangle involving our (anti)hero, the hot chick and the hero's nemesis. COME ON PEOPLE, haven't you seen this already a zillion times? What in the world is wrong with script writers, directors and producers?????? Just some random notes to close: the main character smokes only ONE cigarette during the film, and guess what? the cigarette's butt has a major impact in the plot. There's no leaving anything to the audience's imagination, there's only ONE message and you have to be amazingly stoned or downright retarded not to get it. I guess art schools are different, you run into all sorts of freaks and there's a lot of snob or fake people in there, but you can say nearly the same things about any school these days, and perhaps the film's setting was a poor choice. There's nothing different in this film and hardly any surprises, I think it's sad to see this kind of cheap movies cropping up at Sundance.
Jerome (Max Minghella) has dreamed of becoming an artist ever since he
was a little boy. In an attempt to follow his dreams, Jerome enrolls in
an art school called the Strathmore Institute which is a small art
institute on the east coast. Jerome is determined to be the best artist
of the 21st century. At Strathmore, Jerome meets the girl of his dreams
Audrey (Sophia Myles) who seems to be interested in Jerome but is also
interested in Jonah (Matt Keeslar). The only way for Jerome to win
Audrey's heart for sure is for him to be voted the best new artist at
Strathmore. Throw in a little subplot about a murderer on campus and
you have "Art School Confidential."
I can't really say I loved "Art School Confidential" but I can't say I hated it either. Zwigoff's "Ghost World" was one of my favorite films in 2001 and is probably still one of my favorite films of all time. So with that being said and after seeing the mainstream disaster that was "Bad Santa" I have been waiting for years for "Art School Confidential" to hit theaters. Unfortunately, "Art School Confidential" was not worth the wait.
The main problem with the film is the little side characters. They are all a little too much and they don't really add much to the plot of the film. I am not even sure if there is a reason for the gay roommate to be part of the film at all. The movie just introduces all these characters and acts like they serve a purpose but when all is said and done about 5 characters in the entire film really matter.
Also the whole murder on campus thing was never fully explained which is bad since it was a big part of the film. Zwigoff leaves that plot kind of open in the end and the film itself seems to ends abruptly. There are several moments of "Art School Confidential" that remind me of "Ghost World" however the movie as a whole is no where as good. The characters in general aren't very well developed. The main character is neither likable nor interesting at least to me. The screenplay always makes him out to be a boring character. At times you may feel a bit bad for him but I never felt like I wanted to root him on.
Don't get me wrong because "Art School Confidential" is very funny at times because being a person who appreciates art, I did find a lot of this movie amusing. The scenes in which the art class judged Jerome's paintings were hilarious. The whole thing with the Strathmore alumni coming back to do an interview was also very humorous.
I feel bad because I think Zwigoff really tried with this film however it just wasn't a grand slam like I originally hoped for. I really think this film just had too many characters and didn't focus on making the audience like or relate to any of the characters on screen. Zwigoff did a good job creating scenes where the students critiqued each others work and also scenes in the art gallery which if you notice are kind of similar to those in "Ghost World." However, Zwigoff fails at capturing the emotions of the characters and allowing the audience to connect with the characters. This was a big part of "Ghost World" and I stunned that Zwigoff didn't make a better attempt to get the audience to relate to the main character. I also think maybe the overall tone of the film was too silly, I think it needed some more drama added to it in order to make it more successful.
In the end, "Art School Confidential" isn't as good as I hoped for. While it is rather funny at times, it isn't very balanced in the end. The movie reels its audience in for a while but at the end the film is just anti-climatic and leaves the audience confused and wanting more. It's a decent film that is quite funny especially to people who appreciate art and independent film however this movie is going to be a film that is going to flop and will not be seen by many. Zwigoff is a decent director however he needs to work a little more with the script and developing the characters. "Art School Confidential" is a lot better than "Bad Santa" but its no where as good as "Ghost World." I would say it's the middle ground between those two films.
MovieManMenzel's final rating for "Art School Confidential" is a 6/10. A decent attempt but did not live up to its true potential.
Considering the sheer firepower involved, it's shocking that Terry
Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes' Art School Confidential is so dreadful. The
two did stupendous things together on Ghost World, adapted from Clowes'
graphic novel, but the same combination somehow just doesn't congeal in
Max Minghella stars as Jerome, a lonely and sensitive art school student at an urban New York art college. He's got a buddy (Joel Moore) who revels in pointing out the art school stereotyped characters surrounding them, but it's just a copout to point out stereotypes, and then structure the film around the selfsame characters. The film has some great actors -- John Malkovich, Anjelica Huston, Jim Broadbent -- and Sophia Myles is touching as Jerome's love interest, but the whole thing is lost in a dire plot line. Acting is fine, diolog writing is good ... but gah, the plot turns could be forecast fifteen minutes ahead of time, and watching good actors enact those routines just got painful after awhile.
A downfall of a good premise, yes, that is what pretty much sums it up.
I had no trouble identifying myself with the social events surrounding art and art-education. being a art-major myself it was very much like looking at my picture-book I kept during my time as a graduate.
The satire of the exhibits with really horrible, talentless and crappy artworks being valued highly against the classic attempts at artwork, isn't only the joke in this film, this I witnessed first hand in real life. And this made this movie highly entertaining for the first 60 minute or so.
Alas, after these 60 minutes or so, it really stops developing plot and story and just goes on pacing the heart in this story like a defected pacemaker. And you know what a defected pacemaker does in general...
Come to think of it, the jokes in this comedy were not really that funny at all. Occasionally i heard myself laughing with the insane laughter-sound of Dennis Hopper, just to scare my neighbors, not because of the joke.
No, this movie started out fine with a great cast and a promising premise, but it slided off into a mediocre tedium and that must have been the reason I stopped this movie way before it hit the credits.
It seems to me it just doesn't deliver what it was set out to deliver; an entertaining time throughout the entirety of it.
Maybe a 2/10 is being harsh, but then again...movie-making is an art-form too, this was by no means a valuable addition to it.
Agent Smith: "You're empty..."
Neo: "So are u..."
This movie seemed to have been made by people who have never actually
been to an art class, and don't know how they operate - surprising, as
Daniel Clowes is co-author. Maybe he wasn't paying attention.
First, the art itself: I do art classes at night at a big downtown technical school. A number of my classmates and a great many of the day-school students produce better work than Clowes/Zwigoff's hero does. I'm talking Grade 12 here, at most. Minghella's character, Jerome, is supposed to be a devotee of Picasso, but his art shows no evidence that he knows Picasso ever lived: it's careful, literal likeness, with no expressive power, like a sidewalk-artist's ten-minute portrait. There is a scene where three chicks get together to puff the self-portrait one of them produced. They obviously have their own agenda, but in fact the picture in question (which suggests eyes seen through a veil of hair) actually has a certain amount of expressive power, and when Jerome objects, you expect him to say, 'My five-year-old nephew could do better stuff than that!' For the audience to care about a character, there has to be something to him - more at least than just a wish to be famous and get chicks. From the quality of work shown (which is Clowes' work, by the way) that is all there is to him. It looks like the example pages from every 'Easy Way to Draw and Paint' book ever written.
I, alike many of those born into the art world, and having attending schooling based in fine arts, had a lot of hope as to how this movie would portray the truth in what is true in what it is really like to be involved in the shaping of an artist, in the realm of eduction and growth. I anticipated this movie as something that could represent myself as a student of art. Unfortunately, I found myself once again disappointed and frustrated in this movies attempt. In discontent, I found the portrayal of all characters and the story to be portrayed in pure cynicism. To the very beginning of the movie, the attempt seemed to be to depict all of the negative aspects of attending an art school, exploiting teachers as shallow capitalists, who's main concern is building there resumes, and helping their careers, without much concern to their students, while ignoring true signs of talent in their youth, and blatantly trying to exploit art students as complete clichés as to the type of person who attends an art school. My question was, what really was the purpose of the movie, to put an overall negative viewpoint on the entire concept of what it is to attend an art school? And if so why? Furthermore, the story ends up creating the seeming truly talented main character, as the truly sick and murderous villain, who is capable of killing in order to find what he thinks to be true art. With the portrayal of the person who students seem to emulate, which is the simple undercover cop, and the main character, who is truly sick and twisted, my interpretation is a storyteller who is bitter about their own experience of a perhaps not so talented artist who is bitter about their own experience in the school of art. What is disappointing, is that, the art world today is not nearly as predominant as it once or so has been, and the hope was to view a movie with a story that would inspire people to look at art as a higher source of importance in their lives. Also, the very name of the movie "Art School Confidential" implies that this is what people who are aware of art schooling aren't aware of, however it is findingly negatively bias in this movie, which therefore hurts it's credibility from the core. That is not to say there are no truth to the occurrences in this movie, there is. It's just that the focus is purely on the negative. Because there is definitely many misinterpretations and misunderstandings in the world of art, due to it's imprecision. In math, 1 + 1 = 2, but in art, answers aren't always quite as calculable. The hope with this movie was that there could possibly be a movie that would inspire, and bring the world of art to a larger scale, however to what degree small or large, but the only inspiration I found was in dispute of what I see as a mainly cynical opinion of what it is to attend a school based in art.
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