Thursday, April 20, 2006

Paint by numbers?

The early reviews for "Art School Confidential" (the Malcontent's most anticipated film of the year) are decidedly mixed. I remain committed, however; "Ghost World" was so good, this movie (re-teaming director Terry Zwigoff with writer Daniel Clowes) can't be bad.

The Hollywood Reporter disagrees --

With broad strokes and the most garish colors, "Art School Confidential" lampoons the poseurs, artistes, druggies, burnouts and assorted other ass-pirants who make up an arts institute. With an "Animal House"-ish deportment, "Art School" likely will entertain a sophomoric audience and etch some winning college-kid figures, but art house audiences will be disappointed by its paint-by-numbers storytelling.

Did "Bad Santa's" success taint Zwigoff? I'm not buying it.

Daily Variety is a bit more forgiving, barely --

If the names of director Terry Zwigoff and screenwriter Daniel Clowes weren't prominently credited on "Art School Confidential," this melancholy comedy might be mistaken for an inferior imitation of their "Ghost World." The thematic and tonal overlap between the two films is considerable, and this second collaboration is entirely true to the idiosyncratic spirit of that earlier work. But despite a soulful leading performance from Max Minghella, pic feels insubstantial, echoing without equaling both the coolly ironic edge and heart of "Ghost World""Ghost World" and the incisive art-world outsider portrait of the director's docudocu feature, "Crumb." Breakout beyond specialized niches appears doubtful.

But I'll opt for convenient optimism here, citing The Village Voice's
favorable review (although they note wide displeasure with the film) --

Terry Zwigoff's Art School Confidential, from a Daniel Clowes screenplay, is a satisfyingly bilious satire with two not entirely unserious points to make: (a) most art sucks and (b) this is the case because the controlling institutions are eminently corruptible. The film was disliked across the board. A pity, since the career advice Jim Broadbent's washed-up painter gives to Max Minghella's ambitious student—"Are you a 'great artist' when it comes to fellatio?"—would have easily topped last year's accidental catchphrase: "It's hard out here for a pimp," from Hustle & Flow, which Art School improves on as a meditation on art and fame.

"Confidential" opens in limited release May 5th, meaning those outside New York and L.A. will probably have to wait another three weeks to see it. I'll be there, damn the reviews.


  1. My immediate thought is that it's a hard subject to lampoon, because so much of it crosses over into self-parody. I did like Ghost World, but thought it was a good 1/2 hr too long

  2. I think this is the perfect thing to lampoon, and swince i am a big fan of the actual comic, I have high hopes for this still.

    Those Hollywood rags seem to judge a movie based on " Breakout beyond specialized niches appears doubtful."

    I'm here to represent the specialized niches, because mainstream tastes are generally bland. Can't recall a true mainstream release that really has grabbed my attention in the last years.

    Hollywood should just come out and admit they are exactly like a shoe company....