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Friday, August 31, 2007

Art School Confidential

Director: Terry Zwigoff
Screenplay: Daniel Clowes

Cast:
Max Minghella ... Jerome
Sophia Myles ... Audrey
John Malkovich ... Professor Sandiford
Jim Broadbent ... Jimmy
Matt Keeslar ... Jonah
Ethan Suplee ... Vince
Joel Moore ... Bardo (as Joel David Moore)
Nick Swardson ... Matthew
Anjelica Huston ... Art History Teacher
Adam Scott ... Marvin Bushmiller


Synopsis:
Jerome Platz, a talented but impressionable young artist just got a big break by
being accepted in the prestigious art school the Strathmore Institute. As somewhat of an outcast and a helpless romantic, he found in that school the girl of his dreams and started to desperately impress her with his self perceived talent. The only other thing he focused on was his ambition to be the greatest painter. However, the hypocrisy and pretentiousness of the cutthroat world of art school is something he hadn't prepared for. Add to that the lingering presence of a serial killer publicly dubbed as the Strathmore Strangler, and the antagonistic tension between the local police and his college community, Jerome must now face the fact that he is just one of the many stereotypes with a hollow pipe dream of becoming a famous artist.

Review:
The movie is very loosely based on the comic of the same title. Understandable as the comics was just a 4 page feature in the 7th issue of Eightball (an anthology comic by Daniel Clowes who also was the screenwriter for the movie).
I know most people had been disappointed by this flick and it did actually polarized critics with their reviews. I however fall on the camp that loved this movie. Most criticisms blames it for being based in a comic because said characters are either cliche or stereotypes and are bland because of that. I know comics is still a niche market and for some reason some people still want to separate manga from it, but it really amuses me that today, in the 21st century, there are still people stuck on the notion that all comics are simplistic kiddie fare full of characters with alliterative names. Such argument and platform for criticizing a movie basically has no legs in my opinion. Simply for the fact that first, they really have no idea about the source material and have not personally encountered it, citing it only on hearsay and assumptions based on stigma. Secondly, they obviously were oblivious to the context on how the movie is just loosely based on the concept of a very short comics and that is considerably divergent from the said material, besides taking its title and the core concept that it is a satirical parody of an art school environment. I may sound like I'm just making a straw man argument but I really needed to get that out of my chest.

I do not want to change the opinions of those who have already seen the movie and did not like it. Instead, I will just concentrate on what made it work for me.
Now on to the proper review.

What many people who have seen the movie fail to realize is, I doubt this was made to be a serious statement that reflects the social human condition in attempt to be high art. Cartoonist Daniel Clowes may be known for that in his comics work, but this movie surely is not. Just like the core of the source material (which has been noted by the creator himself was just nothing more than filler material who took a life of its own by becoming a phenomenon to various art schools), the movie was one big satirical parody of the art school community. It is full of exaggerations, cliche and stereotypes for that reason. The narrative is just incidental and a tool to showcase all of them. It should readily have been apparent to the audience once they saw the conclusion, showcasing the hypocrisy and opportunism of the protagonist in the end. It was commentary on a very small circle that exist in society, the artistic field. The creators were making fun of themselves and their peers.

I cannot guarantee that everybody will enjoy this movie. However if you are a professional artist, an art student, film major or anything similar, I'm pretty sure curiosity will take over and you'll end up watching this anyway. I do humbly recommend this film just for the fact that I have personally enjoyed it. This goes without saying that your mileage may vary from my own.



As always, I'm a nice guy enough to actually embed a YouTube trailer of the Art School Confidential movie just so that you could understand and have a better idea of what ever the heck i am talking about. Enjoy!



2 comments:

Westside Goth said...

re: yes, i am groovie mann on the rama.

Frd Reborn said...

Thanks to your passionate review, I may have to check this out. Sadly the stigma that hovers over comics kills the chances any movie has at reaching a broader audience.