ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL
THUMBS UP FILM REVIEW RATING!
Yesterday I went to my local art theater to watch an art film about a future artist attending art school. Whew! I’m glad I got that out!
But lets chat about this art film, shall we? Here we go...
It’s got a lot going for it. First and foremost is an impressive script. Obviously the screenwriter, director, producer (or all three) attended art school at some point. And making fun of the people and faculty at such a place is where the comedy in Art School Confidential takes wing. When Jerome (Max Minghella), the main character, begins attending his freshman year at Strathmore Art School, he’s quickly introduced to the cliche-riddled cast (the cliche is purposeful and pulled off just as well as the movie GALAXY QUEST). He meets the burned-out art teacher Professor Sandiford (John Malkovich), the beautiful model that every male wants named Audrey (Sophia Myles), the angry lesbian, the teacher’s pet/kiss-ass, the drug addled film student, and a splash of others. There’s also a strangler on the loose in the neighborhood which will play a vital role in how Jerome’s artistic dreams play out.
The ridiculousness of art school is what really makes this movie work. Jerome is obviously very talented, but other artists whiz by him because art is what the artists say art is. It might be a picture of a car, or a man attaching jumper cables to his nipples and letting current run through him, or a mound of plastic chairs.
Jerome wants to be the next Picasso. He studies hard, tries to get noticed, but nothing seems to work. He’s also a virgin and wants desperately to get laid but with the wacked out student body at Strathmore, he’s got his work cut out for him.
As Jerome works and works, trying to become a successful artist, we get to watch him fall into despair; he starts smoking, drinking, and visits a washed up Strathmore graduate named Jimmy (Jim Broadbent) who gives him some dark and grotesquely sage advice: "Are you good at ‘getting on your knees?’" (I’ve cleaned that up a bit but you get the idea.)
It becomes apparent to Jerome (and the movie watcher) that he has no chance of becoming a recognized artist ...unless something drastic happens. Which, of course, it does (Cliche? Oh yes!)
Once this "something drastic" happens, Jerome learns the true nature of being an artist. It’s an unfortunate and incredibly funny set of circumstances that finally thrusts Jerome into the limelight.
The level of casting in this indie film is surprisingly large and notable. In addition to John Malkovich (BEING JOHN MALKOVICH) we see Anjelica Huston (THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS), Jim Broadbent (MOULIN ROUGE!), Matt Keeslar (DUNE miniseries), Ethan Suplee (COLD MOUNTAIN), Steve Buscemi (THE BIG LEBOWSKI) and several others.
This impressive cast pulled off the overly-pretentious attitudes that flood many art schools. They were witty yet cynical which made laughing out loud a requirement during the viewing of this amazing little flick.
God I love these little independents when they’re done right!