Art School Confidential—Sony Pictures

Video: 4
Audio: 3
Extras: 1

Talented teenage artist Jerome (Max Minghella, son of Oscar-winning director Anthony) enrolls in a small New York City art college, and his world opens up in this bitingly original, funny, and scathing film from director Terry Zwigoff (Ghost World, Bad Santa). Set against the backdrop of a campus murderer who’s tallying up victims at a quick rate, Jerome becomes increasingly confused and angry at his overcritical classmates and his own insecurities. Worse yet, Jerome finds himself in a love triangle with fellow artist Jonah (Matt Keeslar) and the stunning model Audrey (Sophia Myles). This desperation and self-doubt lead him to consider extreme measures to win the affection and admiration of all.

The 1.85:1 anamorphic picture emphasizes the students’ works superbly, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is crystal clear. The paintings themselves are great pieces of prop and production design, as each student we get to know has his or her own style. The script by Daniel Clowes (a former art student himself) is razor sharp, acerbic, and dryly hilarious, and it sets a unique tone throughout. The extras aren’t much to speak of, with an OK making-of that explains the creation of the artwork and some bloopers and deleted scenes.

The performances are outstanding all around. Jim Broadbent as an aging alumnus with some eye-opening advice and John Malkovich as a droll professor are the real standouts. In the vein of Heathers, this film slashes art-school stereotypes and pretentiousness to shreds and is black comedy at its caustic best.