May 5, 2006
Art School Confidential."Hilarious," declares Artforum contributing editor Rhonda Lieberman. Not everyone agrees, not everyone disagrees. Nick Pinkerton opens the Reverse Shot round at indieWIRE: I'm betting more than a few critics will write Art School Confidential off with the facile pan that it's muddled or disorganized - true, sure, it's all over the place - but when there's plenty of tidy, totally DOA flicks out there, it's stupid to undervalue such a sly, richly romantic, and rather unprecedented movie. The nearest point of comparison I can think of for Art School Confidential might be Hal Hartley's Henry Fool, located as that film is in a cross-century limbo between blue-collar Queens and Baudelaire's Paris - I love the awed way these movies treat Great Art as incomprehensible, vampiric, something to live, die, and kill for. AO Scott, returning to movie reviewing for the New York Times, finds this one "as muddled and hectic as a student art project pulled off in a single, desperate, caffeine-fueled all-nighter." For J Hoberman, Confidential "isn't quite as gross as Bad Santa, but it's no less ugly and equally confrontational, not to mention a good deal funnier. (There's more than one joke.)" Also in the Voice, Dennis Lim talks with Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes. In the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Kimberly Chun has a long profile of Clowes, who tells her, "It's not necessarily the feel-good movie of the summer. But I don't know if I'm the guy to write the feel-good movie of the summer." Three out of four stars from Jeremiah Kipp at Slant. Stuart Klawans in the Nation: "Maybe this material isn't entirely fresh, but Zwigoff delivers it with the snap of a quick punch to the face - which is, in fact, the first image in the film, and a model for innumerable excellent sight gags to follow." For SuicideGirls, Daniel Robert Epstein meets Zwigoff. Online listening tip. Zwigoff and Clowes on the Leonard Lopate Show. Update, 5/6: Brief takes from Anthony Kaufman and Alison Willmore; and Jennifer Merin talks with Zwigoff for the New York Press. Update, 5/8: Michael Fox interviews Zwigoff for SF360. Update, 5/9: NPR's Robert Siegel talks with John Malkovich. Update, 5/10: Sean Burns in the Philadelphia Weekly: "Raunchy as hell and unapologetically profane, Terry Zwigoff's Art School Confidential is one of the great disappointments of this movie season." Updates, 5/11: Gerald Peary in the Boston Phoenix: "Friends, read the comic book. Zwigoff’s movie is a sour disappointment, a callow, nasty, and downright unfair indictment of art school." Cindy Fuchs in the Philadelphia City Paper: "As the movie has it, all roads lead to corruption. The greatness Jerome seeks so fervently is precisely what he cannot see and embodies perfectly, an other-bludgeoning, relentlessly self-involved assessment of 'art.'" David Fellerath in the Independent Weekly: "However little respect art schools deserve, Clowes' script is a cheap-shot special, with the annihilation of one easy target after another at Cheney-esque range." Nick Schager gives it a B-. Justin Ravitz in the New York Press: "PoMo Confidential lacks potency as visceral entertainment or intellectual fodder—too confused to be satire, melodrama, mystery or much of anything for mainstream or indie audiences. Worse, its broadsides about the state of creativity and creative communities in 2006 are as pessimistic as they are cliched." Updates, 5/12: Jonathan Rosenbaum in the Chicago Reader: "Clowes's somewhat nihilistic world is even more psychologically and even less socially determined than Crumb's. (Crumb's work expresses a deeply felt nostalgia for an earlier American era that can't help but encompass a social vision.) Jen Graves in the Stranger: "Art School Confidential feels like a teen flick compared to Ghost World." Paul Matwychuk in Vue Weekly: "[R]ight around the time the fairly tedious serial-killer-on-campus subplot takes over the action, it feels as though Jimmy’s misanthropic spirit has infected the entire movie." And, courtesy of Tony DuShane, we've got our own interviews with Zwigoff and Clowes up now, too. Canfield at Twitch: "Zwigoff seems to be saying we can hide from it all we want, the truth is most people spend a lot of time pretending for others and ultimately themselves. What gets lost besides our time and energy is the reason we ever had to live in the first place. Pretense in art then may be far more dangerous than it is in real life." Mike Russell: "The movie has bitterly funny and terribly unsubtle things to say about art-world groupthink and our obsession with surfaces. Individual moments are hilarious... But the movie, as a whole, doesn't hang together." Four stars (that's good!) from Peter Sobczynski at Hollywood Bitchslap. But: A "C" from the Star-Telegram's Christopher Kelly. Updates, 5/14: Chuck Tryon: The film disappoints in part because Jerome is a relatively uninteresting character, a generic suburban kid who naively stumbles into the weird world of art school. Perhaps I'm too close to the jaded older student, Bardo (Joel Moore), wanting to make wisecracks from the back of the classroom - and yes, I'm a teacher - than I am to the ultra-sincere Jerome." William Goss at Hollywood Bitchslap: "Zwigoff knows what he wants to say, but he misses the big picture, failing to fuse his shifting tones with a more complete theme." Update, 5/17: For Andrew at Lucid Screening, the ending is "a last ditch effort to laugh with us, but it fails to overcome the overwhelming feeling that, by and large, it's mostly just been laughing at us."
Posted by dwhudson at May 5, 2006 6:46 AM