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Art School Confidential

Genre: Comedy / Drama
Rated: R
Directed by
: Terry Zwigoff
Starring: Max Minghella, Sofia Myles, John Malkovich, Matt Keesler, Anjelica Huston, Jim Broadbent, Joel Moore, Ethan Suplee
Released by: Sony Picture Classics

In Short: Stylish storytelling and a breakout performance by Max Minghella makes this satire a very amusing portrait.

Satire with Style
Art and Angst on Display in Graphic Novel Adaptation
By Jenny Peters

From the slightly twisted mind of director Terry Zwigoff, he of “Bad Santa” and “Ghost World” fame, comes this funny satire about the world of aspiring artists. Based on the comic book/graphic novel by Daniel Clowes (who also wrote the screenplay), “Art School Confidential” follows Jerome Platz, a college freshman who believes his matriculation at an urban art college is his first step toward becoming his generation’s Picasso.

The reality of life quickly intrudes, however, as his teachers – including one obvious has-been artist, played to smarmy perfection by John Malkovich – are indifferent to his talents and his attempts to find a beautiful Muse (and girlfriend, too) are thwarted by a seemingly more talented rival.

As Jerome, newcomer Max Minghella (the 21-year-old son of Academy Award-winning director Anthony Minghella) brings a deft mix of naiveté and irony to the role, as he grows up fast in the weird and definitely arbitrary world of art and creativity. Matt Keeslar is also extremely believable as Jerome’s rival with a dark secret, and strikingly beautiful Sophia Myles continues to dazzle in her role as Audrey, the woman both men fancy as the spark to their creative inspiration. Add in inspired cameos by Jim Broadbent as a washed-up artist and Anjelica Huston as a highfalutin professor, and there’s nary a misstep among the well-cast acting troupe.

“Art School Confidential” is more than just a clever skewering of the oft-pretentious world of artists and their aspirations, for there’s a subplot about a serial killer stalking the campus that adds in just the right note of surreality to the whole proceedings, and makes for a really amusing comic denouement as well. With this latest smart and funny offering, Terry Zwigoff cements himself as one of the most interesting artists working in the independent film form today.

(Updated 08/30/07 NJ)

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