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Overall Rating

Awesome: 17.24%
Worth A Look37.93%
Pretty Bad: 5.17%
Total Crap: 1.72%

7 reviews, 16 user ratings

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Art School Confidential
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by EricDSnider

"Good first draft; re-do and re-submit for class credit."
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: Terry Zwigoff, director of "Ghost World" and "Bad Santa," reunites with his "Ghost World" collaborator Daniel Clowes to bring us ... a lazy, unsatisfying comedy noir called "Art School Confidential."

'Tis a pity, because Zwigoff and Clowes are talented guys, both separately and together. But this effort is only moderately funny to begin with, then takes a turn into a plot-heavy world where the laughs are nearly forgotten. It's like an artist defacing his work when his work wasn't that good in the first place.

It's set at Manhattan's Strathmore Institute, a liberal arts college with the requisite types of students: pretentious beatniks, vulgar filmmakers, gay fashion designers, angry lesbians, vegan hippies, and a few 50-year-old women who are taking art classes because their kids have left home and they have nothing else to do.

Jerome (Max Minghella), a budding artist and incoming freshman, is normal, which makes him abnormal. He is immediately smitten with Audrey (Sophia Myles), a fellow student who works as a nude model in Jerome's drawing class. Against all odds, Audrey likes Jerome, too, and things begin to look up for him.

In the background, however, there is intrigue: A serial killer dubbed the Strathmore Strangler has been bumping off students for several months and has apparently started up again now that the fall term has begun. And in the foreground, there's an untalented student named Jonah (Matt Keeslar) who keeps being lauded by the bitter Prof. Sandiford (John Malkovich), much to the annoyance of Jerome, whose own work keeps being overlooked and who starts to lose Audrey's attention, too.

The film begins astutely, offering scathing indictments of the art world as ruthless and commercial. The pretentious babble of art-school students is mocked, and so is the imbecility and shallowness of much of what is called "art." Jerome meets a man named Jimmy (Jim Broadbent), an old drunken wreck who was once an artist and now lives in obscurity in a rat-hole of an apartment. He tells Jerome what the art world is really like, and it's not pretty.

But before long, the film veers into the serial-killer plot, half-heartedly trying for laughs while it goes through the motions of solving the murders. It's a daring ploy -- come for the laughs, stay for the pitch-black dissertation on art and fame -- and Zwigoff and Clowes just don't pull it off. Max Minghella has a certain soulfulness as Jerome, and I think he'd have been a good choice for the role if the script had been better. But what's here is weak, a freshman-level effort by guys who should be at least sophomores by now.

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originally posted: 03/04/06 20:25:14
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Portland Film Festival For more in the 2006 Portland Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival For more in the 2006 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 San Francisco Film Festival For more in the 2006 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/27/13 David Hollingsworth Suprising, funny, and a little high-brow 4 stars
2/25/08 SamanthaP being anart student i thought that this movie was very true, it was also very funny! 4 stars
5/09/07 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 3 stars
2/18/07 Bad Critic Thank you Zwigoff. Dark comedies of yours are a treat. 5 stars
12/07/06 Indrid Cold The comedy is a lot better than the serious parts, but worth a look. 4 stars
11/17/06 Phil M. Aficionado Weak brew indeed; more hackneyed stereotypes than smiles, and very scattered/spotty. 2 stars
9/21/06 John B Fell apart 1/2 way though 3 stars
6/14/06 Ole Man Bourbon Some funny jokes 4 stars
6/03/06 Stefan Russell an endless parade of cliches and bad acting... ha ha not funny either 2 stars
5/29/06 Troy M. Grzych 1st 1/2 is a comedy, the 2nd a dark drama, should have stayed a comedy. 3 stars
5/25/06 cailen dry, dark and tedious 1 stars
5/17/06 Mase Smart, original, unigue,dark comedy from Zwigoff. Smiled throught laughed out loud often!! 5 stars
5/17/06 Paul funny, right on, fine mix of crazy yet eloquently done writing and acting 5 stars
5/14/06 K. Pearlman Indy comic stuff doesn't always go over well with audiences 3 stars
4/13/06 marty Funny Classic and a little dark 5 stars
3/07/06 js Kind of a mess. And I loved GW. 2 stars
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  05-May-2006 (R)
  DVD: 10-Oct-2006



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