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Art School Confidential (2006)

A movie directed by Terry Zwigoff

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A Smart Little Film That Gets Caught Up In Its Own Mess Of A Story

  • Oct 19, 2006
ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL is yet another comic book comes to celluloid life, this time by writer Daniel Clowes, and in the process creates more subplots than it can comfortably handle. The main premise - that art schools are peopled by assorted types of students all with the goal of becoming a great artist and the manner in which attrition occurs - is a solid one and an entertaining tale to tell. Cluttering that main line of story with a silly stalking strangler idea is just plain dumb and accomplishes little except giving an easy out for a finish.

Jerome Platz (Max Minghella) is a talented drawing and painting major who enters the hallowed walls of a respected art school and is stuck with rooming with a film maker Vince (Ethan Suplee), a closeted fashion designer, and nebulous Bardo (Joel Moore) and immediately plugs into the array of misfits that fill the classes including hunky Jonah (Matt Kesslar) who garners attention for his Pop art cars from art teacher cum failed artist Professor Sandiford (John Malkovich). Jerome's main attraction for the school and the class is his infatuation with life model Audrey (Sophia Myles) who in turn is more attracted to Jonah. Student questions and life challenges are stepped along by Jerome's contacts with teacher Anjelica Huston, oddball alcoholic recluse artist Jim Broadbent, cafe/arthouse owner Steve Buscemi, gallerist Michael Lerner, established shallow artist Marvin Bushmiller (Adam Scott), etc. Jerome eventually plagiarizes/steals paintings in hopes of gaining not only some fame in class but also the attention of Audrey. That little incident unplugs disaster and the film closes with Jerome happily ensconced in jail - grinding out paintings now publicly desired because of his living situation!

Sound silly? Well, for the most part it is, but fortunately there are entertaining characters played by some fine actors that maintain our attention. A funky musical score by David Kitay borrows heavily from the Big Names in classical music whenever the love interest is aroused and for lovers of classical music the quotations are hilarious. Not a bad evening's entertainment - but very much in need of script doctoring to edit out the strangler bit. Grady Harp, October 06

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review by . May 24, 2011
One of those dark comedies you just might relate to
Oddly enough I can relate to this insane film but who doesn't relate to a dark comedy every now and then. They sort of shed light on the stuff in the world that shouldn't be funny but we sometimes snicker at. Art School Confidential is definitely a film you will constantly laugh at or even say WOW! I thought I was the only who felt like that. The film even has these sort of subtle moments that breakthrough to you or at least to me. Not only does it give you that comedy but its a bit of a …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #96
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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About this movie


Bitter, misanthropic, yet sometimes blisteringly funny,Art School Confidentialis not a movie for everyone. Jerome (Max Minghella,Bee Season) goes to art school in the hopes of having his genuine ability recognized and cherished--but instead, finds his teachers to be self-obsessed has-beens, his peers jaded and floundering, and himself being investigated for a series of gruesome stranglings. He becomes obsessed with a lovely student named Audrey (Sophia Myles,Tristan and Isolde), but she's more interested in hunky Jonah (Matt Keeslar,Splendor), whose crude yet acclaimed paintings of cars and tanks make Jerome want to tear his own eyes out. The crime-thriller plot ofArt School Confidential, however, is merely a contrivance to string together a series of caustic digs at the shallow, narcissistic, talentless hacks who go to art school in the vain hope of achieving fame, wealth, and sexual abundance with little or no effort. For most viewers, who want to think that people are largely well-intentioned and decent, this will seem snide and cruel; but for some viewers, who believe people are foolish and blinkered,Art School Confidentialwill seem like an oasis in the arid desert of lies and propaganda about the good side of human nature. If this is your movie, you know who you are, and I encourage you to seek it out as soon as possible. Directed by Terry Zwigoff (Bad Santa) and based on the work of cartoonist Dan Clowes; their previous collaboration was the much warmerGhost World. ...
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Director: Terry Zwigoff
Screen Writer: Daniel Clowes
DVD Release Date: October 10, 2006
Runtime: 102 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
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