Art School Confidential - huh?

I've just watched this movie and am currently in the throes of 'huh? wha?'. So all this is off the top of my head.

I'm confused - I haven't read the comic book - so I can't vouch as to whether it's a good adaptation or not... so I'll have to let that slide. But broadly speaking - you can get away with a lot more in a graphic novel than you can in a movie. (Maybe that's because expectations are a lot lower? I don't know.)

But from a first viewing it seems like what could have been a really nice (all be it somewhat trite and conventional) little 'boy artist meets out-of-his-league pretty girl' romance on top of a snarky little dig at the woefully pretentious art school mores was further ruined by having a murder mystery grafted onto the top of it. Leaving me not knowing what I was watching really - much less as to what it was trying to say. (I feel it could have worked in the hands of a far more accomplished director. But here it all fell apart and became lifeless mush.)

Was it saying:

Everyone is a pretentious fraud apart from the serial killer who made his paintings from his murders? (But all he really did was make a memento of each of his victims - is that art? Do we consider what serial killers -like Dennis Nielsen and Jeffrey Dahmer or Ed Gein did with their victim's remains art? Or even the paintings of clowns by Wayne Gacy? Now, is that art appreciation or just morbid curiosity?)

That the highest accomplishment in modern life is fame even when gained through notoriety? Because that would have been a great sarcastic message - but somehow it just didn't quite work as well as it could have done.

That everyone is clueless?

If you want the girl and to be famous - then claim credit for someone else's work - even if it's homicide? Despite the fact that your own work looks nothing whatsoever like what the murderer produced. (Which should be a big giveaway surely) The problem with that was the lead actor - simply wasn't anywhere near morally ambiguous enough - Max Minghella made an ideal fresh young innocent abroad - but someone who could be mistaken for a serial killer - or even someone warped and complex and manipulative enough to be willingly allow themselves to be imprisoned as such? Oh c'mon. No. That bird wasn't ever going to fly.

The other gripe I have about the film is that the main character's art is just - so tediously bland and conventional - it's illustration not art. (You must remember Clowes for career went into comic books - which is story-telling through a series of images - a different discipline altogether from making a single image which is meant to stand alone and be looked at for a long period of time. And now I think of it - movie making - is that too. So maybe the whole film is about a cartoonist and a movie maker - people who make stories through a succession of images - just totally failing to understand what single image art is really about. Then having an axe to grind in later life about how they were so misunderstood in art school... Hey, I think I might be on to something here...)

Art School Confidential

No comments: