Five years ago, director Terry Zwigoff and writer Daniel Clowes mocked the pretensions and politics of art school in Ghost World, a modest independent hit that helped launch the grown-up, art-house phase of Scarlett Johansson's career. Now, Zwigoff and Clowes return to the subject with a vengeance in Art School Confidential, a strange hybrid of a movie that is part coming-of-age black comedy and part noir-ish murder mystery. The resulting pastiche is a little like the odd sketches, paintings, and other items that the students tack up on the classroom wall for their teacher and classmates to evaluate—and one hesitates to review the film, lest one end up sounding as clueless as the characters it mocks.
Nevertheless, review it we shall. The story concerns Jerome Platz, a suburban kid who has a way with a pencil and a paintbrush, and who is first seen being beaten up by a bully on an elementary-school playground. Jerome dreams of escaping this world, primarily through art; the only revenge he can take against the bullies is to draw pictures of them covered in excrement. But Jerome believes there are more positive, less reactionary benefits to being an artist, too; for a special show-and-tell in which students come to class dressed up as their personal heroes, Jerome says he looks up to Picasso, because Picasso was a famous artist—and, oh yeah, Picasso also got to have sex with lots and lots of women.
Hormones, rather than any noble ideas about art, are also the reason why Jerome goes to the fictitious Strathmore Institute several years later. Jerome (now played by Max Minghella, son of English Patient director Anthony) sees a picture of a beautiful blonde model posing for one of their classes in a brochure, and it ...1
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Art School Confidential
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