Art School Confidential

Art School Confidential


Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

"But is it Art?"

This is the question that immediately comes to mind here, with a film based on a comic, set in the world of the traditional, established arts.

Copy picture

The answer, however, is largely no.

Okay, but is it entertaining?

Well, yes. But with qualifiers: compared to Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes's previous collaboration, Ghost World, Art School Confidential - note how the title alludes to High School Confidential and Comic Book Confidential - is, if anything, a retrograde step.

What that film did so well was, in a sense, nothing: a summer passed and the two central characters grew apart together, in a painfully believable and quotidian way that was remarkable for the refreshing absence of dramatic exaggerations and excesses.

What we have here, however, are a parade of easy gags and clich?d characters and the awkward shoehorning of a serial killer sub-plot into a narrative that, had it just followed the same kind of (non-)trajectory as its predecessor, rather than throwing in a romantic angle and trying for a dramatic third act, would have been all the better for it.

But as it is, there's nothing in here that A Bucket of Blood didn't already say fortysomething years back.

Maybe there's the defence of auto-critique, insofar as Zwigoff and Clowes present one supporting character who reels off the clich?s and stereotypes one-by-one and then identifies himself as yet another clich?; or give us a film-maker whose grandfather-cum-backer insists on there being guns in the film he is making about the aforementioned serial killer, a strangler whose methods are, as such, predicated on stealth.

But in the end, it all comes down to their tending to do what is audience pleasing rather than authentic. So, while Jim Broadbent's art-for-art's sake alcoholic might tell our young protagonist that what he has to get good at is sucking cock and kissing ass, we don't get him responding to an apparent pass from teacher John Malkovich by assuming the position...

Yes, shocking though it may seem, the two misanthropic filmmakers have produced a work that is a touch too romantic for its own good...

Reviewed on: 07 Sep 2006
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Art School Confidential packshot
An artist learns to adapt his vision to the world around him.
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Read more Art School Confidential reviews:

Chris ***1/2
George Williamson **1/2

Director: Terry Zwigoff

Writer: Daniel Clowes

Starring: Max Minghella, Sophia Myles, John Malkovich, Jim Broadbent, Matt Keeslar, Ethan Suplee, Joel Moore, Nick Swardson, Anjelica Huston, Adam Scott, Jack Ong

Year: 2006

Runtime: 102 minutes

Country: US

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