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Art Film Movie About An Artist At Art School ...Whoa!
fwomp22 May 2006
Yesterday I went to my local art theater to watch an art film about a future artist attending art school. Whew! I'm glad I got that out!

But lets chat about this art film, shall we? Here we go...

It's got a lot going for it. First and foremost is an impressive script. Obviously the screenwriter, director, producer (or all three) attended art school at some point. And making fun of the people and faculty at such a place is where the comedy in Art School Confidential takes wing. When Jerome (Max Minghella), the main character, begins attending his freshman year at Strathmore Art School, he's quickly introduced to the cliché-riddled cast (the cliché is purposeful and pulled off just as well as the movie GALAXY QUEST). He meets the burned-out art teacher Professor Sandiford (John Malkovich), the beautiful model that every male wants named Audrey (Sophia Myles), the angry lesbian, the teacher's pet/kiss-a$$, the drug addled film student, and a splash of others. There's also a strangler on the loose in the neighborhood which will play a vital role in how Jerome's artistic dreams play out.

The ridiculousness of art school is what really makes this movie work. Jerome is obviously very talented, but other artists whiz by him because art is what the artists say art is. It might be a picture of a car, or a man attaching jumper cables to his nipples and letting current run through him, or a mound of plastic chairs.

Jerome wants to be the next Picasso. He studies hard, tries to get noticed, but nothing seems to work. He's also a virgin and wants desperately to get laid but with the wacked out student body at Strathmore, he's got his work cut out for him.

As Jerome works and works, trying to become a successful artist, we get to watch him fall into despair; he starts smoking, drinking, and visits a washed up Strathmore graduate named Jimmy (Jim Broadbent) who gives him some dark and grotesquely sage advice: "Are you good at 'getting on your knees?'" (I've cleaned that up a bit, but you get the idea.) It becomes apparent to Jerome (and the movie watcher) that he has no chance of becoming a recognized artist ...unless something drastic happens. Which, of course, it does (Cliche? Oh yes!) Once this "something drastic" happens, Jerome learns the true nature of being an artist. It's an unfortunate and incredibly funny set of circumstances that finally thrusts Jerome into the limelight.

The level of casting in this indie film is surprisingly large and notable. In addition to John Malkovich (BEING JOHN MALKOVICH) we see Anjelica Huston (THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS), Jim Broadbent (MOULIN ROUGE!), Matt Keeslar (DUNE miniseries), Ethan Suplee (COLD MOUNTAIN), Steve Buscemi (THE BIG LEBOWSKI) and several others.

This impressive cast pulled off the overly-pretentious attitudes that flood many art schools. They were witty yet cynical which made laughing out loud a requirement during the viewing of this amazing little flick.

God I love these little independents when they're done right!
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A Masterpiece
laddie531 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
It's easy to see why this movie got terrible reviews (in every sense), and continues to get them here. A reviewer, by definition, is not an artist. This movie is a bracingly tough-minded depiction of how a person becomes an artist, and every pitfall along that path.

Art School Confidential starts out like a satire, with a lacerating, devastating series of portraits of all the ways non-artists look, sound, behave and think. The students are spoiled narcissists, suckups, politicking weasels, imitators, or mindless followers of fashion -- all of them looking for validation outside themselves. The professors are failures who express their self contempt by becoming bullies, phony gurus, and sexual predators. And just beyond the "school" (in which no one learns anything) lie the leeches: the various patrons and marketers to whom art is just another product to buy and sell.

Our hero, Jerome, must navigate his way past them all and learn to live and create without their approval or even their comprehension. Failing this test, the other artist character Jimmy (beautifully played by Jim Broadbent) has become bitter, cynical, and ultimately homicidal. This is why the film seems to become darker as its true seriousness of purpose unfolds. This isn't a satirical teen comedy… what saves Jerome is his relationship with Audrey, but his final test as an artist is to see beyond his physical attraction to her and to finally understand her as his muse.

I've read dozens of reviews of this film and I don't think I've seen the word "muse" once. Anyone who doesn't get that point, illustrated beautifully in the film's final amazing image, doesn't know what they're watching. Most movies, no matter how cynical or dark, just want to be loved. Art School Confidential wants to show the world as it is and tell the truth about it. And it seems it has demonstrated its own thesis by ending up as unloved and misunderstood as its protagonist.
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Coming of age gone wrong.
poohead21 May 2006
For the first 30 minutes, 'Art School Confidential' sets itself up as a coming of age movie. But instead of at that pivotal moment when one comes of age, Jerome the aspiring artist turns to the dark side and begins to show someone with genuine ambition and a worthy character descend into a turbulent test of artistic innovation. Whatever the hell that means. 'Art School' not only depicts the individual growth of Jerome, but also analyzes the definition of art, and in some respects, defines it quite well. Why does shitty art get so much acclaim? Why does quality art often go unnoticed? Why are artists such pretentious ass holes? The whole movie answers all these questions hilariously and beautifully.
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This film impressed the hell out of me
tomwaitsisgod14 May 2006
I came into this film expecting a mean, rude comedy in the vein of Zwigoff's previous effort Bad Santa (a film which has more brains than it gets credit for). For the first 3/4 or so of the film, that's what I got, and I enjoyed every second. Towards the last bit, the film takes a turn darker than you would expect. This sudden twist, unexpected as it was, did not feel trite or convoluted. More fascinating.

Make no mistake this a dark comedy in the truest definition. There is something about the ending that is supremely haunting.

Ethan Suplee provides the hyper-actively aggressive role he has become beloved for. Malkovich does not disappoint as the burnt-out and oh-so-full-of-crap art professor. Jim Broadbent channels Chuck Bukowski here as he barks like a pit-bull and alternately purrs like a tabby as the disheveled failed artist/ nihilistic mentor of our boy Jerome, who just may be the only unpretentious and truly talented student at Strathmore University. Throw in Anjelica Huston and Steve Buscemi in delightfully understated roles, a string of murders courtesy of the mythical Strathmore Strangler, and the positively stunning Sophia Myles as the nude drawing class model Audrey who becomes both the object of Jerome's affection and the source of his disillusion, and you have got a dysfunctional masterpiece.
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Great film- fun, exciting, fascinating, and keeps you pleasantly off balance
mothratwin8915 May 2006
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.
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A great, cynical comedy about the art world.
MetalAngel4 September 2009
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!!
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To everyone who thinks it turned dark...
blart-214 May 2006
I think that those who felt the movie started as an excellent parody of art schools but then failed by turning dark, you've missed the point. By turning dark, you start to fear for the main character only to be confronted by the fact that the art world is so ridiculous, it will laud anyone for the most insane reasons. Jerome's art was considered boring until he wasn't. It's not that the movie turned had to go in that direction to reach the ultimate parody.

As someone who is regularly disappointed by what passes for art today, it was refreshing to see this confronted in such an open arena. It's a disappointment that people without skills have succeeded-- and that art is the only discipline where professors are afraid to give out poor grades. I certainly experienced this in my art days. Students who put in the effort and failed to complete the requirements would still receive a good grade because they'd put in the effort.

This film is fantastic because it goes to the extreme to comment on art today.
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Exactly what you would expect from Zwigoff - which is also its weakness
sashamalchik27 April 2006
Terry Zwigoff made one of my favorite movies - Ghost World. This one can be considered a sequel of sorts. Except, it's backwards: instead of commiserating with the young adult "misfits" in the world of "normal" people, it now laughs and satirizes them in a setting where their greatest concentration can be found - an art school in New York. In a farce-like setup it goes from student to student and ridicules them for all the "non-conformity" clichés that they are, while staying fully aware of being one big cliché itself - and landing the mandatory slaps on the "suburbia" and the "normal world" as well.

But this is where it fails: it lacks any subtlety. What was great about Ghost World, what was its main superiority over Art School Confidential, is that it had enough subtlety to stay an engaging, deep movie, while this comes off more like a flick-for-fun. It's as if Zwigoff decided to do exactly what's expected of him and serve it in a transparent glass box for people like me - who would enjoy the movie tremendously nonetheless, but regret everything it's so obviously missing. Oh - and unfortunately for me, I felt like much of the "art-school" topic has already been depicted very well very recently, in the HBO's Six Feet Under.
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very funny
robert_johnston17 May 2006
I don't understand why this movie has attracted negative reviews. When I saw it the audience - including me - was laughing out loud. Sure, it isn't the cleverest film ever but it is unfailingly entertaining. The performances are great and the script is witty. The point is that Jerome can draw but is no great artist so from the beginning is never going to achieve his ambition to be Picasso. He is as much of a stereotype as everybody else. It is stated right from the start that everybody is a cliché - and ain't that the truth? We are all clichés. As Malkovich explains in the beginning art students are almost guaranteed disappointment. The audience isn't supposed to sympathise with Jerome - if you think you are then you have missed the point.
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Another scathingly funny comedy collaboration of Zwigoff & Clowes.
george.schmidt8 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL (2006) *** Max Minghella, Sophia Myles, Matt Keeslar, John Malkovich, Jim Broadbent, Anjelica Huston, Steve Buscemi, Joel Moore, Ethan Suplee, Nick Swardson, Adam Scott.

Another scathingly funny comedy collaboration of Zwigoff & Clowes.

Although I have never read any of Daniel Clowes' comic books/graphic novels I know I've definitely lived them. His scathingly, biting satire and caustically witty characters are indelibly familiar with my train of thought in humor and I have known some of those gross caricatures to be actual flesh & blood people. Archetypes of angst & anomie, pseudo intellectuals and face it, assholes. There I said it but then again so does Clowes and filmmaker/collaborator/partner-in- crime Terry Zwigoff who are back together since their last great teamwork effort "Ghost World".

Adapting his story Clowes perfectly captures the ennui of being a talented artist trying to find himself and be taken seriously in a sea of misfits, miscreants and malcontents. The talented artist here is one Jerome Platz (Minghella, son of filmmaker Anthony Minghella, and disturbingly looking like the teenage version of the comic strip character "Dondi" (!)), a lonely, lowly freshman embarking to find his true talent as an artist by enrolling at a prestigious New York art college called Strathmore where he rooms on campus with vulgarian film student Vince (Suplee) and mincing ambivalently gay fashion designer wannabe Matthew (Swardson) and pines for his drawing class' nude model Audrey Baumgartner (Myles, a combo of Cameron Diaz and Uma Thurman; yes, definitely easy on the eyes kids!), who he idealizes and imagines her to be his destined love and inspired muse. Oh and there's a serial strangler on the loose.

Director Zwigoff lets the jokes go broad and the wit stream like unleashed venom with its nasty student body and officious artistes-in-the-making (they're all there as they are pointed out hilariously by eternal drop-out slacker Bardo whose medium is sarcasm) are only too real to be caricatured with the pomposity of greatness and those who deign it so including Professor Sandiford (Malkovich at his most passive-aggressive) and local art goon restaurateur Broadway Bob (an unbilled Buscemi) as well as Broadbent as a slovenly, drunk alum who once had the potential to be the 'next big thing' is a riot. Perhaps the must cutting to the bone and too painful to be honest depiction of art as success is a symposium with Strathmore's prized alum and sensation to the art world Marvin Sagemiller (Scott) who basks in his misanthropy and embracing his assholedness.

Zwigoff and Clowes make a perfect combination even if the subplot is superfluous and unnecessary providing an unbalanced final act that suggest what would've been the coda to Travis Bickle in "Taxi Driver". However its previous moments outweigh the outcome by simply stating that art is what it is and that's all that there is.
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A Twist of Lime with a Crabapple on Top
Feanim25 April 2006
The beginning of this movie was hilarious. Jerome goes to art school and meets zany characters, including his gay roommate, his wannabe filmmaker roommate, and his art teacher (played by John Malkovich). The dialogue was witty. The audience loved the satire of modern art, because we all know how ridiculous modern art can be yet we must be polite and insightful when looking at it. Everyone could relate to the perverted college humor. Unfortunately, all this silliness ended. Right in the middle, the movie took a turn of tone and with it took the refreshingly simple but fun plot.

Art School Confidential suddenly became serious about its characters, including the mysterious strangler. The decision to transform the movie into a serious mystery was it's major flaw. With this move, the writers felt they had to incorporate a more confusing plot to achieve a mysterious tone. By the end, the initial idea of simply amusing the audience was lost because of the poorly-crafted mystery, leaving the audience disappointed.

Why do filmmakers do this? They think because we have paid to see an indie movie, we want an obscure plot twist topped off with an unresolved ending. It's like having ice cream, fun and simple, then someone comes over and adds a twist of lime and tops it off with crab apples! Obscure, but no fun because it tastes weird and you were content with the ice cream by itself. I recommend the first hour of this movie.
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Art class
jotix10030 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Jerome, the young man at the center of this story, changes his suburban existence for the art scene being taught at Strathmore's, a place that should be avoided like the plague. Jerome, who has been the butt of all the bullies in suburbia soon discovers the big city is not exactly prepared to accept him, or his art.

Jerome is an insecure young man who learns quickly his art professors see things in a different fashion, as is the case with Mr. Sandiford, an artist himself, who tries to discourage the young people in his class at any given moment. In a way, Sandiford, who is also a mediocre painter, can't stand the competition of the bright new would be artists that he is supposed to teach and mold.

The young man becomes entranced by a beautiful young female model, Audrey, who doesn't realize she is the object of Jerome's affections. Since he is not attracting any compliments from the teacher, Jerome decides to take some of the eccentric Jimmy's drawings to make collages and present them as his own, without any positive reaction from anyone. He is also instrumental in the fire that consumes the dilapidated building in which Jimmy lives.

Terry Zwigoff, whose previous films have dealt with off beat characters in films such as "Crumb", and "Ghost Life", doesn't quite make it with his take on Jerome. Working with his screen writer, Daniel Clowes, he doesn't quite pull it off.

Max Minghella plays Jerome, the potential artist who doesn't seem to believe in his own talent. Best thing in the film is John Malkevich, who plays Sandiford, with perfect pitch. Jim Broadbent is perfect as Jimmy, a man who has given up on his art and on life. Sophie Myles is an enigma as Audrey because she seems lifeless in her role.

One can only wish Terry Zwigoff better luck next time.
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Another misfire
davidesachs16 May 2006
Much of the problem with Art School Confidential lies with the character of Jerome. Clowes writes graphic novels, and the main character he's written here is simply a cartoon figure with no depth to speak of. He falls much too fast from his ambition of becoming the world's greatest artist to someone willing to compromise his talent for the sake of coming in first in a college competition. Granted, he is pliable, aping whoever he happens to be with at the moment—it's Bardo one moment, star alumnus Marvin Bushmiller (Adam Scott) the next— and adopting the bitter, nihilistic rantings of failed artist Jimmy (Jim Broadbent) as if those beliefs were his own. This might all be interesting if Jerome was, say, the type of troubled, seeking boy that Minghella played in Bee Season. Sadly he is not, and though Minghella is a fine actor, there's not a lot he can do with what is essentially a stick figure.

That's not to say that Art School Confidential is completely worthless. Malkovich (who also produced) is very funny, and so is Broadbent, but mostly this feels like the type of comedy Jerome's roommate Vince might someday make: overly broad, obvious, and very self- conscious. It wants to be cool, it wants to be hip, but like Jerome in his quest to be the next Picasso, it's merely clueless.
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Another great film of Terry Zwigoff
RainDogJr30 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The dream and principal goal of Jerome (Max Minghella)is to be one day the greatest artist of the 21st century. The film follows his experiences in an art school where he will find that his talent as a painter is not the only thing that he need to have success in the art school.

The screenplay of this great film was based on a comic book created by Daniel Clowes just like the previous film of Terry Zwigoff, "Ghost World" (2001). The story is simple but the result is very good because the film is a mix of genres, you have the typical story about a talented boy dealing with the adaptation in his new school with professor and students who don't like his style, the love story between Jerome and Audrey (Sophia Myles), that affects Jerome's art and end almost with an obsession and also a crime story involving a mysterious murderer. And all the stories with the classic black humour of Terry Zwigoff's previous films makes this film a terrific black comedy about an art school. I really like the turn in the plot and the end is amazing and maybe is a reason of the poor rating on the film because is a very dark end.

And i love all the characters made, on purpose, with a lot of clichés, i mean there is the classic student filmmaker always thinking about his script, the typical professor who thinks he knows everything but most of the students have more talent than him and some others that Jerome's friend explain on a terrific scene. And i really like that because this characters are not just from others films, i mean there are always those kind of students in every school ,not just in art schools and prove to that is that Daniel Clowes based his comic book in his own experiences in an art school.

Well, the cast is very good; this is the first time i watch Max Minghella and Sophia Miles and both are good and very young. John Malhovich, who is also one of the producers, is great in his role as Jerome's professor and i really like the cameos of Angelica Huston and the great Steve Buscemi.

Conclusion: i really like this black comedy of Terry Zwigoff, for me is not his best but is another example of why for me Terry Zwigoff is one of the bests American filmmakers working right now and all of his films are highly re-watchable for me. And if you don't believe me about how great is Terry, just watch any of his films. 9.5 out of 10

Region 4 DVD: is excellent, contains a lot of bonus material like deleted scenes, the making of the film and the presentation of the film at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. And i really hope the release of the Region 4 DVD of "Ghost World".

PS: the Mexican title for the DVD is "El Arte De La Seduccion", that means "The Art of Seduction". Horrible title!
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"Confidential" takes art world to task
Solipsisticblog11 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I am a big fan of Daniel Clowes work and was very excited to see one of his best short pieces was being turned into a movie.

The movie is strange and a little disjointed, but I think Clowes fans will be satisfied. Its a dark movie that takes "underdog becomes the hero" movie conventions and subverts them. I didn't really see the end of the movie coming, but given Clowes work, it was a perfect conclusion.

Many critics have commented on the fact that the movie's murder subplot feels shoehorned in. It is absolutely essential to the story, though, as it provides the film's protagonist with his triumphant entry into the art world.

"Art School Confidential" fails in some ways, but it is wholly original and unlike anything you will see in the theater this year.


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A Dark Comedy About The Art Business: A Biting Satire
FloatingOpera722 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Art School Confidential (2006): Starring Max Minghella, Jon Malkovich, Jim Broadbent, Matt Keeslar, Sophia Myles, Angelica Houston, Joel Moore, Adam Scott, Jac Ong, Marsha Bell, Lauren Lee Smith, Jeremy Guskin, Jeanette Brox, Nick Swardson, Jean St. James, Paul Collins, Alexandra Ryan...Director Terry Zwigoff, Screenplay Daniel Clowes.

Director Terry Zwigoff's "Art School Confidential" has been turning heads and sparking debates among film critics since it first appeared in various film festivals. This is a brilliant dark comedy that parodies and ridicules the world of art, not excluding the movie business. Young and relatively unknown actor Max Minghella stars as Jerome Platz, an innocent, boy-next-door type from the suburbs who dreams of becoming the greatest modern artist of the 21st century (meaning of today). He doesn't have a girlfriend, is shy and idealistic and moves into a dorm at a prestigious art school where he encounters a closeted gay, an overweight, smart-aleck aspiring film director and a classy, gorgeous blonde (Sophia Myles) named Audrey who becomes his Muse. But far from being a coming-of-age story in a traditional vein, Jerome's journey is one of naiveté and idealism to jaded cynicism and despair. His art is criticized and disliked by his colleagues, the girl of his dreams is drawn to his rival Jonah (Matt Keeslar) who is in reality a fraudulent, two-faced nobody. Jim Broadbent puts in a great performance as Jimmy, an older, pathetic ex-alumni of the same art school whose artwork was rejected and who was disillusioned with the art world in general. Now he lives to drink beer and lives in squallor. Jerome's love of art and dreams are pure and unselfish, but he learns that to make it in the art world one has to kiss butt and sell out. John Malkovich as the art professor is another fine performance. Angelica Houston as the art history teacher is also great. This film has not been well-received by critics or audiences simply for the fact that the film is ultimately not artsy and more Hollywood in its anti-Hollywood, anti-sell-out theme. Also, the clichés and jokes are nothing fresh. In the art school we are introduced to Goths, hippies, artsy housewives or moms, artist groupies and every aspect of the film seems to be based on some kind of dark novel written by a disenchanted artist. The music is lovely, the cinematography is exquisite and there is nothing wrong with it. Some folks just can't handle the truth about some darker aspects of the art world- that it is superficial in its own way, that it can make one jaded and that it's ultimately as biased as the rest of organized high society.
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Elitist Art School Culture Cut to Shreds
roland-10431 May 2006
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.
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Obvious and subtle at the same time
Rogue-3228 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Let's cut to the chase: This is not Ghost World II - The Darker Side, nor is it Bad Santa Goes To @#c!in' Art Class, or Adaptation or Election or any other film I've seen it compared to in the reviews. I personally avoid comparisons like the plague, but in this case I can see why this is happening. The film just feels incredibly derivative; if pressed, I would say it's more like The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys in overall tone and the way it shifts gears mid-film.

I still enjoyed it very much for its sheer ballsiness, the injected sad-but-true realities regarding The Way Things Work On This Planet (in art school or otherwise) and its derangedly skewed premise. Also commendable is the way the movie winds up being both obvious and subtle at the same time, in so many ways.

There's tons of irony here, as well, as in any proper Zwigoff/Clowes movie. My favorite bit of it has to be the way poor Jerome (Max M., perfectly cast) keeps trying to get Prof. Sandiford's (Malkovich, in superb underplay mode) approval, to no avail. Even when he steals Jimmy's paintings, desperately hoping that Sandiford will now appreciate 'his' darker work, it fails - the Professor tells him, in effect, "Don't worry, you'll come out of this phase" - and here another subtle point is made, as well ~ an artist (of any kind) cannot do the work for acclaim, fame or approval; it has to be done for the sheer thrill of creation and the deep need to express what needs to come out from inside.
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Great Comment on Art Career
thebiba17 May 2006
I guess if you did not go to art school and did not pursue career in arts it is hard to appreciate the movie in its depth and truth, and it is hard to relate to 'rules' and opportunism that takes place in this arena.

It is not truly the craft of drawing and painting, it's about gimmick and career moves that will make the success.Lots of envy, predatory behavior and despair.

I loved the movie because it shows, metaphorically the true nature of the art scene and what the life of the 'art star' looks like - they are locked in their self imposed prison surrounded by money making machine as a price of fame.

I thought that story was well told, that the murder implication was just great. We have babe in the woods who doesn't recognize the low life, dangerous murderer, but somehow he destroys him and takes his wealth and makes his own fortune with it. That was one side of the main character. Other side is driven, ambitious, predatory and desperate. And he is willing to pay the price of the fame/love interest.
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Great cast, but not quite a good movie
ArizWldcat27 January 2006
We saw this dark comedy at Sundance (SLC showing). I wanted very much to give this a totally positive review, but it's just so disjointed that it was hard to decide what it was trying to say. The cast is terrific: John Malkovic, Anjelica Huston, Jim Broadbent, Sophie Myles, among others. There are a lot of things that are funny in this film, and we did laugh. But the storyline is all over the place. I read an interview with the director (who didn't come for Q & A after this one), and he said the storyline has a lot to do with his fear of New York, along with his fascination for it. The NYC shown in this film is very scary; I don't think I'd ever even want to visit it, much less want to live there! The film skewers a lot of snooty art types, and in that arena, it works. However, the second half of the movie just didn't quite work for me. The firsthalf of the film was amusing, but when it turned extremely dark in the final act, it just didn't feel right. It's too bad, because I think it's great fun to skewer the snooty art world...but this was just too far over the top.
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100% Clowes
pressdarlings7 May 2006
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.
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Unlike any Hollywood movie, which is what makes it brilliant
soccer_shock26 July 2015
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
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Way, way, way underrated
rzajac16 February 2011
Art School Confidential, the movie, is a sort of self-parody. This is a beautiful movie cleverly disguised as a movie that can't pull off the necessary airs to pass itself off as high art.

The key to understanding the movie lies in your being able to home in on the most important factor: That Jerome just might be a great and true artist, bizarrely ensconced in an environment in which everyone is a poseur--and that includes the professors.

It's like other Zwigoff movies; like "Bad Santa", for instance. Bad Santa may just be the greatest Christmas movie ever made; the one movie that really succeeds in delivering the truth of Christmas. And, satiric romp though it may be, Art School Confidential may be a window into the odyssey of a born artist, stuck in a nightmarish universe in which he is the only person who understands what beauty is, and therefore why it is truly important that he study it, learn it, and create it. When we understand this, *then* we can truly feel it when Jerome is subjected to indignities, and when he looks out a window and sees something so beautiful that it transports him.

IMDb commenter/raters generally short-shrifted it. I suspect we need more Jerome-hearted people to watch it; it could turn the tide.
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I think this hit a nerve hence most of the other bad ratings
evanloiterman9 February 2011
I think if nothing else this film had ONE purpose and did it well, that is it exposes the elephant in the room that no art student or art-minded person claims to notice, that is just how annoying pretensions in art school can be sometimes and how Art Professors seem to be less and less apt to cultivate skill and push students to "open up" without understanding the fundamentals they wish to break down. Case and point, many original "art rebels" going back 100 years had very formal training and no conceptual minds to guide them -YET they are the most imitated and emulated. Today what you have are ALL conceptual minds doing the teaching and NO little or no formal training being offered. Students are fed a diet of Western art history and idealism -veering away from the very skills that began it all. Mediums, brushes, how to mix color, understanding how paint behaves.

I think many of the reviews that are the most negative are from those that just didn't like to see this particular subject parodied. Oh yes you have stereotypes and things that don't really happen but -There is truth behind it. Art students all feel the pressure and desire to be great -as an all or nothing proposition at an insane long shot -so how could you make that funny? You make some generalizations, caricature a few "types" that might actually be based on some truth. I love the critiques for example -and everyone getting an "A" -on one hand you want to know you earned it but on the other you know that if you turned in something that really sucked (like that of a certain classmate) you might still get that "A".

Then again I know nothing of film or of the career paths and history of the director for that matter -BUT I can't help but to wonder if all the "high speech" and "expert" clinical analysis about this film is not a little biased on account of those that don't want to see art students laughed at. Those that would laugh more at artsy people might also favor another kind of comedy -like "American Pie" or "Meet the Fockers" - it's too dark to be mainstream but for the "aficionado of film" it makes fun of the WRONG people - "Heathers" was a hit because it made fun of Jocks and small town thinking after all.
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the painful truth behind the image of the modern artist
sinisterx30 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Being an art school student myself this movie really shook me because it reminds me of what most of us go through eventually. Every artist loves his work like he would his own child, and when its not appreciated the much as we think it deserves to be, we are deeply hurt and disappointed in ourselves, people, the way the whole world works. Art is a part of the artist, the very best he can bring out. The main character figures out nobody actually cares about the art itself, the only thing important is that it attracts attention. Disappointed by that fact, he wants to attract attention to himself to make people love his work cause thats the only way he can fulfill his dreams.
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