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Art School Confidential (2006)
Great film- fun, exciting, fascinating, and keeps you pleasantly off balance
First off, let me just say how much I love Max Minghella. I saw Bee Season at a film festival a while back and straight off knew he was going to do fantastic things with his career. So far he's proved me right.
I have been anticipating Art School Confidential for a long time. I found out about it through the IMDb, and as a big fan of Zwigoff's previous work, I was really looking forward to seeing what he was going to do with the fabulous cast he had assembled (Malkovich, Huston, Buscemi, etc). The movie did not disappoint.
The beginning of the film is about what I expected- cute, off-beat story about a talented geek who goes to art school and pursues the girl of his dreams. And then it got dark. And then it got very dark. And then it got extremely dark. I soon realized I had no idea where it was going to take me next, and that excited me. The 'mystery' aspect of the movie is brilliantly done as well- it keeps you just well informed enough that you have about a 50/50 chance of figuring it out preemptively, and you'll always realize what's going on just when you need to.
I have read reviews that called Art School Confidential misanthropic, among other things. I disagree. It has misanthropic aspects, misanthropic characters, but overall I found that it ended on an expressly positive note. I absolutely loved the ending. Five minutes before it ended, I wasn't sure how it was going to end, and that, in my opinion, is the best way to do it. Zwigoff's direction is also very impressive. There's a distinct difference in the atmosphere throughout- it starts out looking and feeling sunnier and lighter, and as Minghella's character becomes darker, so does the look of the movie. Just one of those little things that adds to the overall experience.
Art School Confidential thoroughly covers ground that Ghost World touched on briefly- namely, the line between art and BS. It is clearly a subject on which Terry Zwigoff has a lot to say, and he says it very eloquently. The cast is great, the music is great, the direction is great. Go see it. And let me say again... I love Max Minghella. Here's hoping he doesn't turn to stupid teen flicks to pay the bills.