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"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
What can I say? I always considered that art- as in paintings, drawings
and such- was a very complicated thing to follow. I mean, you see a
painting, you let it be absorbed into your consciousness, you reflect
about it, and then you decide about what it means and whether it has
any significance to you. But how do you know if it's actually "art"?
This is why I found Terry Zwigoff's "Art School Confidential" to be an
utterly refreshing look at the art world, which is even more
complicated than what I actually believed it to be. The film deals with
a quiet, lonely boy called Jerome Platz (Max Minghella), who has been
bullied and ignored ever since he was a child. Now, Jerome's hero is
Pablo Picasso, and ever since he remember he's wanted to be a grand
artist, like his hero. "I wanna be the greatest artist of the 21st
century!," he often squeals delightedly throughout the film.
Anyway, little Jerome grows up, graduates from high-school and decides to enroll in a renowned art school, where young artists whose art is actually new and modern can hope to make a name out of themselves. This college is a tiny but colourful world populated with a large array of weird and quirky characters, all of them "artists", and in comes young, boyish, quiet Jerome trying to be an artist like all of them.
Upon entering his dorm room, he encounters his two roommates, a fat film major (Ethan Suplee) working on a short film based on some murders that have been terrorizing the campus grounds, and a noticeably gay fashion major (Nick Swardson) who swears he misses his girlfriend.
And in his most important class, little Jerome meets his holier-than-thou professor (John Malkovich) who's so full of himself to actually notice any of his students' work, a flunkie (Joel David Moore) who enrolled into art school just for the 'pussy', and...a gorgeous, sophisticated model (Sophia Myles) who also happens to be the daughter of a famous painter and who instantly becomes Jerome's muse and obsession.
Throughout the film, which is perfectly written and refreshingly funny, we follow Jerome's steady psychological downfall. He begins as a happy and anxious boy with dreams, and he slowly progresses into a disheartened, depressed, suicidal failure of an artist. This happens because his art isn't appreciated at all, because he notices how arbitrary and tediously unnerving the "art world" really is, and because his muse and obsession doesn't pay him any attention and prefers to mingle with a hunky, handsome new art student who also becomes the number one artist in school and who's "art" (if it can even be called that) Jerome loathes above anything else.
Why brings me back to the initial question: how do you know if something is really "art"? Through various hilarious and original encounters with artists, connoisseurs and art grads, Jerome begins to put two and two together and finds that this world that he so reveres is actually soul-sucking and lifeless. "It's not about how good you are," an art school grad (Jim Broadbent) says, "It's about how good you are at cock-sucking." But then, just when poor Jerome is about to give up on his life, his art, his everything...well, something happens that will give him one last chance to make a name for himself, to conquer his muse and adoration and to make sense out of all the craziness he's living through.
More than an ironic film that exposes "art" as we know it nowadays, this film touches on the basic human feelings of failure, redemption and need. It also talks about love. And it's also very, very funny...which is good, because there is still comedy in life's tragedies, isn't there? I highly recommend this film. Believe me, you will not be disappointed! Rating: 4 stars out of 4!!
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.
Terry Zwigoff made three brilliant movies called Crumb,Ghost world and
Bad Santa.His new film,Art school confidential,is not as good as his
previous films,but it's great.My favorite part of the movie is the
first half.On that part,the movie shows a satiric analysis to the
modern art.The second half is very fine,but,sometimes,the script loses
the direction.The cast is perfectly chosen but John Malkovich steals
the show.His character is of a painting professor.Art school
confidential is a great movie and another good step on Zwigoff's
This nice little study into comic art is both unique in the genre and a
fun view. However, when it continues to try and merge quirky character
on top of quirky character, the enjoyment may wear a bit.
Unfortunately the movie failed to find an audience, even with its implied insight and social commentary.
Thus if you like Art, a little comedy or even just John Malkevich talking about triangles please enroll in this school.
the movie is a decent trip into a warped mind of "Art"
Additionally, remember to stay after the credits for a brief additional scene, which always adds value for those whom routinely stay.
That rarest of finds: a rich, complexly layered blast of a black
comedy. The main story is a savagely bitter, dark sendup of the world
of art institute-based education. Anyone who knows the scene at one of
these elitist schools, places like the Rhode Island School of Design,
should shriek with glee to see all the familiar stereotypes - among
students, alumni and faculty - brought vividly to life. Great cast,
marvelous screenplay, editing and music.
The pace is fast and unpredictable. The intensity of satire here approaches lethal levels. The ironies are sometimes deafening. Strands of romantic comedy, physical comedy and the comedy of contemporary manners also are nicely woven throughout. Sight gags abound. As in the best of over-the-top black comedies, people do die. At the heart of comic darkness, after all, violence and danger always lurk.
Veteran performers John Malkovich and Anjelica Huston (both arts faculty members), Jim Broadbent (an embittered, alcoholic painter) and Steve Buscemi (a club owner who sponsors shows for aspiring talents) all shine brightly in comedic support of the principal young romantic leads, the only two straight players in the movie: Max Minghella (Jerome, a sober, earnest fellow who merely wants to be the 21st Century's best painter) and Sophia Myles (Audrey, the equally serious human drawing model who steals Jerome's heart).
A clutch of lesser known actors lend vital elements to the humorous proceedings: among the best are Ethan Suplee (Vince, a manicky film student), Joel Moore (Bardo, Jerome's cynical sidekick), Adam Scott (Marvin Bushmiller, the successful, vainglorious alum), and Jack Ong (Professor Okamura, a sourpuss art teacher).
People who are unfamiliar with the world of elitist art education may not appreciate this movie. I had a very close acquaintance who did his MFA at RISD, and the slant here absolutely nails his experiences and stories. For me, this is Zwigoff's best work since "Crumb." I also seem to be among a minority who think it is way better than "Ghost World," the first collaboration between Zwigoff and graphic comic writer Daniel Clowes, who wrote the screenplays for "GW" and "Art School Confidential." If you liked Peter Chelsom's "Funny Bones" or Emir Kusturica's "Underground," chances are you'll like this film too. But then lots of folks won't. My grade: A- 9/10.
As an art school graduate myself, I can say that this movie was, so to
speak, dead on. Every "stereotypical student" (as one of the
self-styled stereotypical students puts it) had a disturbingly, and
hilariously, exact counterpart in my real-world school. (Come to think
of it, perhaps there's no such thing as a non-stereotypical art school
student.) Same with the professors. True, at the time of my school days
there were no serial killings going on, but a student working in the
bookstore did get attacked by a knife-wielding street person. And sure
enough, he later turned his bloodstained sheets into a
Although movies set in a specific milieu (a sport, rock bands, street gangs, whatever) might have relatively limited interest to outsiders, I believe Art School Confidential taps into universal feelings about hope and frustration, dreams and reality, obsession and plain old bad luck. It's funny, dark, sly, and at times discomfiting. Bravo to everyone involved.
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