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Art School Confidential (2006)

Directed by Terry Zwigoff Screenplay by Daniel Clowes

  Trying to stick out of 194 films at a Sundance film festival may sound daunting enough. But in a year when An “Inconvenient” Truth, Little Miss Sunshine and The Descent were also being shown, it seems this was easily pushed to the back which was quite unfortunate (though happens) in that Wristcutters: A Love Story was another to get overshadowed. Director Terry Zwigoff having had his first film, Ghost World produced by John Malkovich and he returned once again as Producer with the addition of the role as Art Professor Sandiford. The inspiration behind the script coming from writer Daniel Clowes experience of attending 4 years at an Art institute and stating the different types of characters around in the movie being so humorous because of how similar they are to their actual counterparts and having numerous stories while attending.

  The story concerns Jerome Platz (Max Minghella) who is trying to pursue his passion of the Arts that eventually is fused to become a murder mystery (though I’m almost sure he didn’t plan for that last part). Having dressed up as favorite Artist, Pablo Picasso for Career Day and picking up six years later where he’d soon attend Strathmore College. His ultimate dream of becoming the 21 century’s greatest artist a reality already set in motion. Drawing the occasional self-portrait of a pretty girl here and there not cutting it anymore, his eyes set on a model in the Strathmore pamphlet; turning out to be somewhat of a muse for other local/struggling artists in town. We get a great glimpse of the campus before setting into the story and meeting Jerome’s roommates; Vince (Ethan Suplee) and Matthew (Nick Swardson). One being a film major obsessed with the Strathmore strangler, having recently claimed another victim. The other, a confused fashion major who greatly missed his “girlfriend.” Once in class, he becomes close with Bardo (Joel David Moore) who is more than happy to break down the different stereotypes around class: the Vegan Holy guy, Angry Lesbian, Kiss Ass and the Mom whose youngest usually had just left the nest as she was finally ready to “bloom.” Nothing more than a stereotype himself: the guy who kept dropping out and changing his major, ultimately afraid to see anything through to it’s end.

  Jerome going on a slew of bad dates (as per Bardo’s suggestion) before deciding that class model Audrey (Sophia Myles) was the one, his muse that would make him a great artist. Though he seems to be struggling with school more than expected and instead, comes off rather pretentious on the entire subject. His work is consistently criticized (after the fact) with the one getting all the attention being Jonah (Matt Keeslar) who holds a secret all his own. Getting underneath Jerome’s skin more-so for the notion of having gained Audrey’s attention lately, and just as he was starting to become better acquainted with her. Later introduced to Jimmy, (Jim Broadbent) (former Strathmore graduate) who he meets through Bardo. More of a distraught Artist by this point whose advice to the beginner being “to take lessons in sucking cock and licking assholes” if wanting to make it big. Losing all hope and unable to find much reason to go on until given a helping hand in having “his art” noticed. Jerome’s desperation has him buy 5 pieces of Art from a friend as the police have found themselves on campus with help of an undercover cop and all signs of the murders pointing back to him.

  What does end up happening is best seen rather than told. There are so many “little” great things about this film that it’s a shame more people have not heard of this. Minghella seeming familiar in recently having been in The Social Network. Of which l thought he was arguably better in. Joel David Moore being a great character actor in past roles such as Dodgeball and Grandma’s Boy but was nice to see without any type of charade and to be just as funny as the sarcastic beatknick he seems to fit a description for. His roommates being a great pair of different extremes. Swardson’s character being a familiar tone in being the same voice used when playing the prostitute in Reno 911!, but doesn’t get too  much air time. I was familiar with Jim Broadbent having loved his performance as Zidler in Moulin Rouge to which he was in a completely different light and able to be seen more for his natural humor than anything else in this film. A favorite easily being Malkovich’s role, as per usual. Upfront and unapologetic; clearly bitter about the fact of having spent 25 years in order to even be able to paint triangles (you’d have to watch the film). Several excellent though small parts are sure to be found plenty with Katherine MoennigSteve BuscemiAnjelica Huston and Adam Scott each having either good advice or their spitfire attitude to give more than enough reason to make the film an enjoyable watch.

  The murder mystery aspect to it all didn’t seem to take away as it is labeled a Drama/Comedy. It’s not as though it overshadows the comedy either and makes the whole thing a bit playful as we do see the murders occur from the killers pov. I’m tempted to feel a little bad for Jerome in how gullible he turns out to be but he does look innocent and too full of hope…so I decided to not feel so bad. If anything he needed to buck up some. Interaction within the classroom made for some of the better parts because of his blatant disgust for other “artists” being praised for what he saw as basically, crap art. “Now, everyone don’t be so hard on Jerome. He is attempting to achieve the impossible. He is trying to sing in his own voice using someone else’s vocal cords.” Ah yes, but the beauty of such a word is that it is all perception. It was just unfortunate that he almost refused to accept that same fact. The advice from the Professor being “If you want to make money, better drop out right now, go to banking school, or website school – anywhere but art school.” That seems to say it all, no? What makes an artist great and their work something that stands out from all the other various forms and outlets it’s able to take on? Sounds like a loaded question to me.