The film marks the re-teaming of director Terry Zwigoff and writer Daniel Clowes, the cranks who brought you Ghost World. The film is incisive and hilariously brutal in its depictions of the art world and higher education in general, but as the movie's actual narrative develops it often feels forced. Though the first half hour or so is fantastic, main character Jerome Platz's trajectory doesn't feel nearly as honest as Enid Coleslaw's did.
All the public screening at Sundance are followed by an unmoderated audience Q&A with the director and whatever cast or crew that's around. The joke is that the questions are usually from aspiring directors trying to find out about financing so they can get their film made and into Sundance, but in reality these sessions are much more awful and the one for Art School Confidential was the worst we sat through. The first "question" was, and we're totally not bullshitting here, "Are you guys really into art? You seem to know a lot about art, the movie seemed to be really informed by...art. I mean, I don't know anything about art, but do you guys know a lot about...art?" The answer turned out to be, "Yes."
In our attempt to see every beautifully shot, quiet, non-plot heavy film at the festival, we next watched Old Joy. Directed by Kelly Reichardt, Old Joy differentiated itself with an easy humor, an appealing weirdness and a creepy stonerdog performance by Will Oldham as one of two formerly-close friends who take a camping to an Oregon hot springs.
For our final movie we saw Quinceañera, a drama about a pregnant teenager in Echo Park who creates a makeshift family with her homosexual cholo cousin and saintly bachelor great-great-uncle. Unfortunately all the film did was make us homesick.
But then this morning as we waited in the airport terminal, thinking about all the films we wished we'd had the time to check out, we saw Shannyn Sossamon arrive in Salt Lake and then got on the plane with Kevin Smith. That was when we had to wonder whether we were going in the right direction after all.