"Art School Confidential"
Directed by Terry Zwigoff.
Written by Daniel Clowes. Based on a comic series by Daniel
Starring Max Minghella, Sophia Myles, Joel Moore and John Malkovich.
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 5/16/06
I'll see anything that director Terry Zwigoff gets his hands on.
With "Art School Confidential", many of the quirky things that made
"Bad Santa" so funny work in his newest film, but in batches few and
far between compared to his hilarious Billy Bob Thornton-fronted
Max Minghella plays Jerome, a New York City
suburbanite that gains acceptance at Strathmore University, an art
school downtown. Jerome, a sketch artist that is trying to
expand his horizons, gets into the college experience to learn some
art...and along the way meets a wild array of kids bent on becoming
the next great artist. He is really keen on Audrey (Sophia
Myles), a nude art model that attends Strathmore; he also spends
time with his new best friend Bardo (Joel Moore), his roommate Vince
(Ethan Suplee), and a weird alcoholic homebody (Jim Broadbent).
Jerome also gets to learn under the watchful eye of Professor
Sandiford (John Malkovich), who may or may not have the worst eye
for talent in the school's history.
"Art School Confidential" starts off well,
introducing us to all of the characters with great laughs and snide
commentary on the art world, or maybe the lack of talent in this
particular art society. Minghella is strangely watchable; some
combination of his comic timing, his line reading, his character's
constant discomfort or maybe my endless wonder of "what color is his
skin?" kept me hooked, as does Myles, who has eyes that seem to go
for days. The script by Daniel Clowes (who collaborated with
Zwigoff on the comic-turned-movie
is really funny early on, and even though it feels familiar the film
does enough to dig out of downtrodden early-college-experience
But about halfway through the movie, we get
caught up in two pieces of drama that end up dominating the film's
tone--a murder investigation into a campus stalker, and Jerome's sad
pursuit of Audrey, even as she seems more romantically interested in
an untalented outsider (Matt Keeslar). I didn't get caught up
in the former since we essentially find out who the "Strathmore
Strangler" is with about 30 minutes to go--duh!--and much like Bardo
comments late in the movie, it's no fun following the class
douchebag around as he pines over a woman that we don't even get and
who seems to have zero personality or defining features. We
get less of the Malkovich character, less of Bardo, less of the
wackos that drive the art school element..."Art School Confidential"
almost dies on the operating table in the stretch run, forcing me to
do the unfathomable check-the-time move as the film limped to the
And, I'll admit--my expectations were high
because I loved "Bad Santa" so much. I normally come in with a
clean slate for a film but it was hard here, because I really have
come to love "Bad Santa" more and more each time I watch it, and I
was hoping to recapture some of that magic in "Art School
Confidential" but it never happened. At least it started off
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard