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I was somewhat disappointed with Ghost World the first time around (the graphic serial/novel is still vastly superior) but now I've grown to love it. With Art School Confidential, Zwigoff/Clowes have not only grown as a filmmaker/writer ensemble but have provided us with one of the best cynical stabs at the artistic medium ever portrayed on camera (with a very tightly plotted and unpredictable script). Just go in with an open mind (you have to be one to appreciate Clowes' unconventional style); the humor you JUST must get. I went in with the lowest expectations (the trailer is terrible) and was completely blown away. By far my favorite movie of the year so far. Watching the premise unfold on screen litereally feels like flipping through one of Clowes' classic Eightball issues. Brilliant.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Being an art school drop-out myself, and having read Daniel Clowes
original Art School Confidential, I had high expectations for this
movie. Having spent a miserable day trying to find inspiration to
create and failing miserably, I opted to rent the movie and get a few
laughs. Man, was I so off base. The movie starts off like it's going to
be a comedy and I was even forgiving of the expository narrative
provided by "career student guy". Where good story telling would have
worked, they opted for a guy whose only existence in the film is to
tell you who people are and classify everything. But a comedy it did
not remain. Very quickly the tone of the film shifts and a haphazard
love affair begins amid a city that seems only marginally interested in
a local strangler. The director tries very hard to force you into
guessing who the strangler is, but since he never strangles any of the
characters in the movie, he's hardly on your mind unless someone
mentions him. So we start as a college comedy, turns into a sappy
romance, then to a mystery thriller and finally a piece of crud. I
never found myself caring about any of the characters, even the lead
character lost my interest after about 30 minutes. In the end I felt
like I had just spent the last hour and a half watching someone's lame
attempt at movie making and not a real film at all. It's as if the
student filmmaker in the movie had made the movie himself as part of
his Junior thesis. Terrible film, can't recommend it.
And what art school has a basketball team anyway?
Terry Zwigoff presents you true art and the meaning of art, both Viusal
and Film.It sure is pain in the ass and no one can better explain that
to you than this film.
The film is about a young teenager trying to pursue a career in Art in an art school.But before he can do so, he must learn a few things about what art really is.His obsession to art school and his vision combine with the teachers minds who pretty much spend their whole time relating art with life.And in a art school where amateur art is more appreciated than professional,visionary art.But soon when he meets a women , his life takes a turn.Though,he has a nemesis to face to win the girls heart.Apparently,the nemesis' work,which is just plain childish according to our hero,is widely appreciated.So the competition begins.But as he desperately tries and loses,and gets advices from a drunken ,washed out,but talented artist,he drifts himself apart from art.But things take a big change for our depressed,lost hero,when he is gets involved in a murder mystery ,where he is the primary suspect.
Art school confidential has ideas.Lot's of intriguing offbeat ideas.And while it tries to be funny and offbeat but it fails in the end.Tries to make a successful satire out of art,but it fails to churn up even one great laugh.And it's boring at times,it just dangles around emphasizing what art really is, without actually telling us what it really is.It just mingles and experiments with the concept of art and tries to make something out of it ,pretty much throughout the film.It's characters slowly become pathetic and uninteresting.It's situations becomes absurd and pointless.It just disappoints.
But despite all that,it's fun.It sure is entertaining,but it could've been really big if any of the filmmakers even tried once.And when the plot shifts to its murder mystery,it gets even worse.It's something I didn't expect.It's got a few good moments,but it's not enough for a premise like this.The film daringly tries to make a point by shouting out loud that art schools suck.They're waste of time and just there to rip you off your cash.The students are taught by a bunch of old failures trying to make a living passing on their failures to the new generation.
It would've been better as a satire than an attached murder mystery.I mean,there's nothing wrong with the murder mystery drama thing,but I just wanted to see a proper satire here.Instead of some predictable resolution to the whole mystery.It's got some good twists and turns ,but in the end it's all too obvious.It's half baked as a love story ,and neither is it emotionally touching.Way too contrived and convoluted unintentionally.Too jumbled up.
With the exception of Broadbant,the rest of the cast is just fine.Minghella tries but can't be more than average,although he gets the character's depressing sadness.Malkovich is just a waste of talent and one would expect a lot from him.
As original as it tries to be,in the end it goes for the conventional ending.The writer,who is adapting his own book,just has no clue what he's doing and what he wants to convey most of the times.The writer focused more on the comic elements of the film rather than finding a way to solve the mysteries of the plot that can hardly fit the way it is written.It sometimes feels disconnected from the material, I mean at times you feel like watching different short movies in one film with same actors in different situations and hardly relate to the story.And the director seems to go along with it,giving us as much entertainment and fun out of it as he is able to.
This film at times becomes hard to watch as it mixes so many elements that if succeeded in mixing them well,it could have achieved remarkable result.But that is not the case in this satire. Mixing social satire, art school satire,a wicked love story, murder mystery ,and attempting to bring about a coming-of-age story.This doesn't work.
It can stand out to be a different approach, even if it's not fully successful ,it still succeeds on entertaining you.With a cop-out ending.
For all the true artists out there this film is your lesson.Perhaps.
This movie just does its own thang. As a creative artsy fartsy type, very amusing to watch and a great ride. Forget the ratings, if you're artsy fartsy, watch this film and see for yourself what a bunch of weirdos the filmmakers were. I'd recommend this movie to anyone looking for something surprising and unconventional. Tip: don't watch the trailer or read the synopsis before watching! This is definitely one of my all time favs, a truly cooky film that is not so outdated. Sometimes you just have to trust the reviews of people that liked the film and take a leap of faith that it'll be entertaining. I too often judge movies by the ratings but I'm glad I ended up watching this one. Take a leap of faith artsy people
For the first half hour, I thought this was going to be a slightly
artistic version of "American Pie", "Back to School" or the standard
freshman college romp. But slowly, strangely the story deepens, darkens
and widens until by the end it has completely transformed itself into a
stunning commentary about the human condition.
Most of the laughs are up front, and even so, they're not real zingers so much as they are low-key situational humour (like in a John Cusack film). As the outer layers of this film are peeled away, we see that it becomes more of a macabre mystery, and ultimately it becomes a psychological/social drama about how we deal with self-expression.
I think if you're an artist, musician, filmmaker, chef, or any type of creative person who respects individual expression, you'll get a lot out of this film. Even if you're just a casual patron of the arts, you'll find it interesting because it asks some pointed questions about the nature of art. Should art be treated separately from the artist (do we have the right to glorify the art of a scumbag)? And to what degree should people be allowed to express themselves? How about the very nature of art--does it always have to be new & shocking? Where does actual talent fit in? These are all themes that weave in & out of the story while the story itself is about something completely different. There's definitely a lot going on here.
The movie is rated R, but really it's rather tame. There's not much profanity, no gratuitous sex, no blood & guts. However we do get a lengthy shot of a man's crankshaft. Oh yeah, we also see about 50 pictures of a man's scrotum on a wall. It's all in funny, artistic context... if you can believe that.
The key to enjoying this film to its fullest is to realize that it's a deadpan satire, much like "Catch-22", where the humour is based on outrageous stereotypes and preposterous (though believable) situations. The mood, particularly toward the end, reminded me of "Death at a Funeral" (original version), the way it takes such an irreverent approach to serious matters. And the humour itself is, like I said, a lot like a John Cusack movie ("Say Anything", "Better Off Dead") though somewhat toned down. Though predictable at times (deliberately?), I felt the ultimate payoff was very satisfying, and I highly recommend this to anyone who likes dark comedy ("Heathers", "Grand Theft Parsons").
"Art School Confidential" is a story about art and murder, and it's a
comedy. Jerome (Max Minghella) is a freshman at an art college majoring
in paintings & drawings. He is determined to become a famous artist,
and paint beautiful naked women. He doesn't care how he becomes famous.
Screenwriter Daniel Clowes definitely attended a school like this, because this film is full of artist-type characters, and non-stop jokes about the pretentiousness of art, art historians, competitive students and professors who never made it.
The main issue with this film is that it is basically plot less. There is an aimless plot which gets introduced at the beginning but gets sidetracked for awhile and when it finally reveals itself, it's over much too quickly. There are quite a few jokes along the way but they are mostly just unconnected humorous musings on everything pertaining to art school.
"Art School Confidential" is certainly related to Clowes' and Terry Zwigoff's previous film "Ghost World" (2001) but I found it much easier to get into. I definitely recommend it to anybody who went to art school, is or will be going to art school, or anybody who knows somebody who did. I also recommend it for anybody who really wanted to like "Ghost World" but just couldn't, this might be more your cup of tea.
First the good points ............. The idea seems fresh, even if you have seen all the first college semester movies out there. The lead, Max Minghella is convincing as the wannabe great artist. The presence of John Malkovich, Michael Lerner, and Angelica Huston adds immeasurably. For the first hour or so the movie holds interest with the outrageous art projects. It is at this point that the movie takes an unexpected, and questionable turn. Now the bad points ............. The female lead, artists model, seems both miscast and rather unremarkable. Sophia Myles is never convincing as a love interest. Finally, the ending is both unbelievable, and unsatisfying. More good than bad, still misses the mark, but not by much. - MERK
This isn't the type of film I would have initially gravitated toward,
but someone I liked recommended it to me, and so I decided to give it a
shot. After the first five minutes, wherein I was greeted with another
seemingly cheesy Hollywood-type film, I was ready to turn it off, about
to lose respect for the person who'd recommended it. But I decided to
soldier on, and though the exaggerations, cheesiness and absurdity
never relented, it did have its redeemable qualities.
It wasn't the plot or the visuals or the actors that I found particularly mesmerizing, it was the director's ironic take on art school.... Which I found simply ingenious. Having attended art school myself, and knowing personally what a joke it is, I couldn't help but roll over laughing, scene after scene at the director's clever puns on art school... And I'd be hard- pressed to find out that the director hadn't attended art school himself, because he clearly knew it very intimately.
Ironically, the exaggerations and clichés that at first left me wanting to turn this movie off, were ultimately what helped to make it all the more hilarious. Every stereotypical character and situation having to do with art school that graced the plot, however much embellished, were ultimately uncannily true... And I couldn't help but laugh in amazement at all the characters and instances in this film that I myself had come across in art school.
And ultimately, however outrageous and silly of a film it is at surface value, beneath its childish demeanor, it withholds a deal of profundity, and a handful of valuable ideas to ruminate over and analyze.
If you've attended art school, do yourself a favor and ride this wave of sheer amusement! The thought aspect will most likely creep up on you anyway, whether you like it or not.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Art School Confidential 8-25-08
A rather tamed beast of a film, rather like a guard dog snipping at a guest being told constantly to behave. One gets the since that the film is constantly holding back, it clearly has something to say about the state of art and artists but it just never seems as poignant as it wants to be. John Malkovitch and Angelica Huston some of films best actors are seemingly marginalized and rather boring. The fresh faces, whose names escape me, are equally uninteresting. The only highlight performance wise was the wonderful Adam Scott whose one scene proves the futility of the entire film. The filmmakers via Adam Scotts bit role manage to get all the the things they have to say out of the way in a brief little rant of a scene. Whats left is a tired romance and a somewhat ironic serial killer sub-plot that is just silly. Ultimately what we are left with is a film that can be amusing at times but is utterly forgettable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Based on what I saw in this film, art schools are, in and of
themselves, rather absurd places. Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes
apparently have a great deal of experience in this environment, as they
send up art school classes as being absurd in Ghost World as well.
However as opposed to Ghost World, where the character of Enid was in
on the joke and was herself disconnected in a world that was absurd,
here the entire world (and movie) is absurd. This leads to a
disconnection for the viewer - if the filmmakers cannot be bothered
with dealing with their subject matter with respect, eventually the
audience will lose respect as well. And why are we watching something
that the filmmakers themselves detest?
Strathmore Institute, an art school in New York and apparent stand-in for Pratt, is the destination for Jerome Platz, a virginal but talented young artist with dreams of being the next Picasso. Jerome has the eye and the hand - his work is shown repeatedly in the film to be evocative, well crafted and beautiful to look at. But his starry-eyed innocent gaze is soon to change as he deals with the world inside the school. Not only are the other students clichés, but the feedback he receives inside the school is counterproductive, and the lessons learned are bleak. If there is any lesson to be learned from the film it is that in the world of art no one knows what is any good, the only way to succeed is to somehow gain notoriety, and therefore it doesn't matter whether you are really any good or not. At this point the Jerome character has a crisis of confidence - his superior work is never give any kind of commendation, his opinions in class are ridiculed, and he is told point-blank by Jimmy, a failed artist and drunkard who lives in a hovel, the truth about the art world. Jerome loses his starry-eyed innocence and withdraws - he begins exhibiting Jimmy's work as his own - a very big mistake, or in the world of this film, a very good decision. In addition, a serial killer has been stalking random victims on campus, and there is a new student on campus who is too clean cut for art school and Jerome's new works are attracting his attention. To make matters worse, this new student, who is a hack, has also gained the affection of Jerome's crush, a pretty artist's model.
Jerome's rapid detachment from his dreams - at the first sign of negative reactions to his work he becomes churlish and angry - happens too quickly and he loses audience sympathy. To bravely stand up to adversity, or at least weather it and grow, is what a hero has to do even in a film as bleak as this. Instead, Jerome's seemingly immediate capitulation to his fate left me unsympathetic to his plight.
The film is clever in many ways. A lot of the supporting characters are funny, even if they are a bit trite - the closeted fashion student and the bombastic film major as his roommates, Bardo, the guy who doesn't know what he wants to be as Jerome's confidant, and the frustrated, detached professors. However eventually this archness overwhelms the film - if everyone is an ass and the business is a twisted joke, whom do we have to root for? The serial killer? In Ghost World Enid's reaction to the absurd world around her made her a beacon. Here, Jerome disappears into that world and becomes just another disaffected denizen. Since that world is shown in uncompromising terms to be barren and stupid, it lets the film down. Furthermore, this transformation occurs so quickly it makes Jerome seem to be weak and shallow.
In spite of these criticisms, Art School Confidential still has many clever and funny moments and some good performances, particularly Jim Broadbent as Jimmy, the failed drunkard artist with peculiar masturbatory proclivities. It is not a great movie, and maybe not a particularly good one, on the whole, but it is at times very fun to watch.
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