Who's in It:
Max Minghella, Sophia Myles, Matt Keeslar, John Malkovich, Jim Broadbent, Anjelica Huston
The Basics: A boring college freshman at art school wants to be the next Picasso and falls for the prettiest girl on campus. There are pretentious, bitter professors; art posers; and a serial killer complicating his life, and they all get what's coming to them, both literally and figuratively.
What's the Deal? This is director Terry Zwigoff and comic art star and screenwriter Dan Clowes at their most misanthropic. Everyone here is stupid, talentless, delusional or a charlatan. No one, not even the "hero" of the film, is spared from their laser beam of hate. And when the serial killer starts taking out random members of the school population, the deaths are treated as welcome. In other words, it's what you wish you could see in movies more often but rarely do. It's the kind of movie that makes you think that if you ever met the filmmakers in person, they might just hate you until you died from their disdain.
Where It Comes From: Dan Clowes created a really great comic book called Eightball, which is where the strip Art School Confidential first appeared. Go check it out. This movie doesn't have much to do with the original strip, but the spirit is the same.
The Problems: Zwigoff's last movie, Bad Santa, and especially his first collaboration with Clowes, Ghost World, had a softer side that tempered the vitriol and were more consistently funny. This one goes for the obvious targets too often. (Wow! Some art sure is dumb and awful! Especially if your favorite stuff is representational painting and drawing!)
See It For: Jim Broadbent's small but insanely entertaining role as a viciously bitter art failure.