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Art School Confidential More at IMDbPro »

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Animal House goes to Art School

Author: mikeg994 from United States
14 September 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I liked this film, especially in the early going. The pretensions and insanity of the art scene in general is easy to lampoon and this film certainly does that, from the guy taking Polaroids of his own underside to the guy painting himself blue and then colliding with a wall-size canvas. I have always viewed much modern art as something belonging in a fun house rather than to be considered altogether seriously. One has to wonder how Andy Warhol, to name just one example, could have made a career out of making pastel-shaded photos of celebrities and soup cans for a living. It is when the film devolves into a murder mystery and just another story of teenage lust and angst that its wheels come off. It slides from satire into something else as our erstwhile hero, Jerome ultimately discards his principles and starts to drink and is reduced to passing off someone else's work as his own. The ending is a bit out of tune with the rest of the movie and seems a matter of desperation and deus ex machina. Nevertheless it is true enough of a satire to be enjoyable.

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a dull mess

Author: Charles Herold (cherold) from United States
23 June 2008

For most of the length of Art School Confidential, it is a bland version of the nebishy college guy out to win the hot girl plot. The art school setting allows for some amusing moments, but nothing in it is amusing enough to justify the bother of having made this film. The story is just interesting enough to have kept me from giving up on it, but just barely. It is a movie that just floats on that fuzzy line between watchable and unwatchable.

Then towards the end, the movie just goes out of whack. The darkness of the last half-hour comes out of left field. The problem is probably that the movie is just not that funny or satirical. A dark ending in a satire makes sense, a dark ending in a dumb guy-pines-for-the-girl movie is just weird. Had this been an edgier, funnier movie throughout with an edgy, funny, dark ending, it could have worked, but it doesn't work in spades.

I can't believe this is by the same guy who made Bad Santa and Ghost World. It's really pretty worthless and uninspired.

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pratt institute

Author: vedus-woolley-1 from United States
4 December 2007

I have just begun to watch this and I recognized everything immediately. I am a Pratt Bratt, class of '76 and it is all very true, so far. The whole art school thing, and "great artist" thing, are so true...the artsy fartsy nature of it all...But it was not an experience in life I would trade for anything! Such pretentiousness! I loved to paint, but oh boy...the drugs, sex, and the professors..the narcissism was rampant. Alas, I went on to study psychology and am in private practice now so can look at it differently. the movie is awesome in its reality. Folks, it really is like that. But don't prevent your sons and daughters from going to art school! It's life!

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An insider film that lost its way

Author: ( from Ronn Ives/FUTURES Antiques, Norfolk, VA.
13 November 2007

Caveat: I have a deep suspicion that if you did not attend a Visual Arts school, or perhaps at least a school of one of the Arts, this one is going to leave you confused, irritated, or apathetic. It's definitely an "insider" film. That said, the first 75% is deadly accurate on the pretentious, hopeful, pseudo-intellectual, hot house environment of training in the Arts, complete with student politics, faculty politics, administrative politics, art scene and art business politics, and any other politic you can throw in. It's "hip" deep in its own bullshit. I began to lose interest when I caught on we were heading out of the Arts theme and into a Murder/detective theme. At this point, the story loses what I found witty and insightful, pursues the murder angle, and in an overstated, clichéd manner, tries to wrap the two themes together in a final irony. Perhaps these things would be entertaining or even eye opening for those who DIDN'T attend an Art school, but for me, it was enough to stick with the in-house world of young college students trying to find their way into their personal illusions about what the art world could and would offer them.

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stick figures

Author: yawnmower1 from New York City
13 July 2007

Despite the strong cast (John Malkovich, Angelica Huston, and James Broadbent) and promising premise, this film fails by trying to be too many things at once: mindless T&A comedy, cynical black comedy, coming-of-age, mystery, thriller, love story.

Sensitive suburban high school artist Jerome (attractive, virginal Max Minghella), is bullied by cute jocks and draws portraits of girls he likes. He escapes to an art school in New York City because he loves a model in its brochure, which goes a long way towards summing up his commitment to art and education.

Jerome has two roommates: one is a gross, loud-mouthed film student; the other a fey fashion student, incredibly the only gay male in the school. There is a 'militant lesbian' and, like her, every student is a one-dimensional stereotype. The cops searching for a campus strangler are brutal, foul-mouthed cretins. Subtlety is not one of this film's virtues.

Jerome meets Audrey, the girl in the brochure, and proceeds to bore everyone with his tireless obsession. No one can blame her when she falls for Jonah, played by princely Matt Keeslar, an adonis whose simplistic art wins acclaim from one and all. Audrey's young god is not who he appears to be and his story, not developed, would have been fascinating. In an ironic twist, Jerome gains artistic success when he becomes associated with the strangler.

There is a genuinely funny moment when Jerome's parents react to his talk of a girlfriend, and a sympathetic one when Jerome seeks advice from Angelica Huston. But there are way too many false notes. Characters are not richly drawn, but simple monochromatic sketches. We are so clearly not in New York: the school is filmed on location in California so one minute we are on a sunny, spacious, modern campus, and the next we are on an impossibly dark, grim New York street set. The Beethoven Concerto used as a love theme throughout the film is uncredited. Audrey is a model, but it is never established what else she does at the school besides being a foil for all the other girls (who are unbalanced, vindictive, and shrill), and an object for drooling, sophomoric males. John Malkovich has some very funny postures and affectations, but is hobbled by the writing, as are all the actors.

The title may be an homage to another silly film about students and cops. High School Confidential starred Russ Tamblyn as a sexy, wise-cracking flat-foot pretending to be in high school. But the 1958 cult classic doesn't aspire to be more than it is: a superficial, clichéd look at teenagers – plus it features Jerry Lee Lewis rockin' the school on the back of a flat-bed truck.

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Dumb movie dressed up as high brow...

Author: SmokeyTee from Wellington, New Zealand
21 April 2007

Reading the blurb on the back and seeing the director responsible and the cast for this film I expected something much better.

We saw bad Santa and thought it was great fun. This film should have delivered something entertaining, something quirky and original. I don't see 'indie' to see unsmart, predictable films that make me fast forward the last 20 minutes while groaning in utter disbelief at the awful, awful film I paid good money to see.

Malkovich is OK, like a warm wet flannel. But he doesn't save this BLAND & PASTY film.

Lead character glares and pouts his way through the entire film, perhaps he attended the Roger Moore/Freddie Prinz.Jr School of Facial Acting. Who knows!? All we know is we never want to see his face again ever.

See Bad Santa and avoid this lemon unless you are feeling mentally diminished.

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Good, solid comedy

Author: guyfromjerzee from United States
31 March 2007

Leave it to Terry Zwigoff to make another intelligent, witty comedy. Those are two words I don't often use to describe comedies nowadays. Is this one of the funniest comedies to come out in recent years? Far from it. But it was just refreshing getting to see a film like this after watching all these dopey, brainless comedies that have been polluting our movie screens in recent years. Zwigoff also directed "Ghost World" and "Bad Santa," so I think he has officially proved that he has quite a bit of expertise in the genre of black comedy. I have a dark sense of humor myself, so I guess that's why his films tend to appeal to me. Just like "Ghost World," this is a film about young people, but not catered towards young people. It's always refreshing to see a film that portrays young people as intelligent, rather than simple weasels who only chat about sex. Several people have criticized the ending of the film. I have to admit, the plot twist did feel a little tacked on. But that didn't totally ruin the film for me. I loved the way the film poked fun at the pretentiousness at both the students and professors at these swanky art schools. Being a very straightforward, literal-minded individual, I can't keep a straight face while listening to these artsy types blabber on about some abstract piece of art. Sometimes I want to wring their necks and scream out, "Get a friggin' life!" John Malkovich gives a pitch-perfect performance as a talentless, pretentious art professor. The rest of the cast is great as well. I was impressed to find out that the two lead actors, Max Minghella and Sophia Myles, are both English. No wonder I haven't seen them before. They both hide their English accents perfectly. And Sophia is one stunningly hot woman. Jim Broadbent plays a very interesting, offbeat character. Seeing him play all these upper-classmen in movies, it was fun watching him essentially play a bum. And who could say no to a film with a hilarious cameo by Steve Buscemi? So there you have it. A sharp and funny script, a talented cast of actors, sharp directing. I'd say the film is definitely worth seeing.

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Unfocused Satire, But Has a Lot of Funny Moments to Recommend It

Author: evanston_dad from United States
31 January 2007

In "Ghost World," Terry Zwigoff's wonderful rumination on the awkwardness of adolescence, the main character felt like she didn't belong in a world that cherishes conformity. Her hostility toward others and general unpleasantness was a defense; she was going to reject others before they had a chance to reject her.

You might say that "Art School Confidential" addresses the next phase of life, when the pettinesses of high school are left behind and young adults have a sort of second chance at creating new identities for themselves. But what happens if you don't know what that identity should be?

Meet Jerome (played with just the right blend of idealism and frustration by the young actor Max Minghella), who's determined to become a great artist and enrolls at a dingy New York art school. Like many young and immature artists, he thinks he's the only one who has anything truly original to say, and can't understand why others aren't as impressed with his work as he is himself. He struggles to ease into a comfortable artistic style, something everyone around him seems able to do without a problem. Meanwhile, he pursues a figure model who he thinks is the most beautiful girl in the school and who reminds him of a Picasso painting; seeks advice from his art teacher (John Malkovich) and receives a thinly veiled sexual proposition in return; and becomes fascinated by a misanthropic recluse (Jim Broadbent in a wonderfully bizarre and off-kilter performance) who just may be a serial strangler.

As with "Ghost World," Zwigoff approaches his material with a very funny but very black sense of humour of the slightly queasy variety. But unlike "Ghost World," he doesn't pull it off as well. "Art School Confidential" remains abstract and glib; its satire never takes focus. I wasn't sure what Zwigoff's point is; is he poking fun at the pretensions of modern art? Is he making a comment about the pretensions of young artists? Toward the end, he seems to be addressing the arbitrariness of artistic success. But everything comes off as somewhat muddled. There are really good moments, like the aforementioned ones with Jim Broadbent, but then there are other characters and plot lines that do nothing but diffuse the film, like several scenes involving Jerome's roommates and a couple of moments with Anjelica Huston, who plays another art teacher and must have appeared in this film as a favor to someone, given the minuscule amount of screen time she's given. The early parts of the film are the best and funniest; but Zwigoff gets ambitious with his ending, and it tanks terribly.

Still, I enjoyed "Art School Confidential," and I imagine other liberal arts majors will too. It really captures that feeling of being surrounded by young artist wannabes, all trying to impress and all terrified of being labeled conventional. Ah, days I can look back fondly on but don't think I'd ever want to revisit.....

Grade: B

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Art school comedy pulls its punches

Author: johngammon56 from United Kingdom
21 December 2006

Though Ghost World is without doubt the best of Daniel Clowes' forays into film, Art School Confidential is closer to the bulk of his recent graphic art work. I admire Clowes' books very much and, like David Boring or Ice Haven, Confidential uses a somewhat surreal tone to tell us something about the Way We Live Now. But because it's slightly weird, with a virgin innocent hero in a world of self-obsession and serial murder, this movie is not the funny, scabrous attack on the art world that you'd wish for, especially if you've read the hilarious rant with the same title, available in Clowes' Eightball comic compilation. It should have been a competitor to Roger Corman's delirious Bucket of Blood. But Art School Confidential the movie doesn't tell us anything more about the art scene than Ghost World did, largely because even though the cast is uniformly excellent they're playing the sort of characters you've seen in college pictures repeatedly - self-obsessed student-hating lecturers, closeted but obvious gays, John Belushi types, neurotic lesbians etc. More of Clowes' real-life art school experiences and less of the contrived plot would have improved it greatly. It's an entertaining film, but only mildly so.

Tony Hancock's The Rebel is still the funniest in a rather tiny subgenre of films about the art world - long may it reign.

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Not bad, but harmed by its self hate

Author: Andres Salama from Buenos Aires, Argentina
27 November 2006

This comedy-drama set in a mediocre art school is not a total disaster, it has some entertaining moments, some smart comments to make about the contemporary art scene, but you are likely to leave the cinema not having been through a terribly pleasant time. Somewhat better than his previous (and awful) Bad Santa, this movie is remarkable for its relentless self-hate toward artists: the film has a very sour tone of ugly contempt toward losers, which by the director's definition seems to be those 99 out of 100 artists that don't become famous. The worst losers here are not the students but the professors, which are seen as self-loathing middle aged men bitter at the world for ending up teaching at this contemptible place. And notice that I'm not even mentioning a number of silly subplots in the film, like the one about the undercover cop in the school.

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