At the Urging of…Art School Confidential

The Book Store has always been a source for movie recommendations, from classics Barry Rothman hipped me to (Sweet Smell of Success to name one) to modern ones, from James Mammone (Ghost Story) and one from my Curb Your Enthusiasm compatriot Carrie from 2006 (Art School Confidential) when I was knee deep in teaching and being a mom. This last film is what I just finished this afternoon.

Terry Zwigoff (Bad Santa and Ghost World) doesn’t put out movies in bulk in fact according to IMDB, the last thing he did was a TV short in 2017 called Budding Prospects. And while Art School Confidential had a few positives, it didn’t grab me in the way it charmed my co-workers.

First, I love John Malcovich and one of the many difficulties I had with this film is, he wasn’t in it enough! The same could be said for Anjelica Houston who I also cherish. Additionally telling was the fact that main star Max Minghella hasn’t actually gone on to bigger and better (though is in the very popular-though not with me) Handmaids Tale. Almost ditto for Sophia Myles. Last, Jim Broadbent’s character was too dark to be believable.

The film uses college and artist stereotypes for humor which is ok and worked some of the time. But the strangler sub-plot took away from my enjoyment of the humor. Hence, a good way to stay away from the media monster feeding our poor frenzied cell phone hostages, but definitely a lesser film than Bad Santa and Ghost World.

Ghost World and the Mysteries It Created

The movie Ghost World used to come up in conversation with the last man I dated in New York, who from this day forward will be nicknamed my Saturday Night Boyfriend. My SNB was (actually ‘is’, he’s still alive and well and needed a job recommendation to a water park from me this past spring) a highly intelligent, good looking Jewish man who also had (has) a wickedly dark sense of humor. The way he pitched Ghost World to me as a film rec, though, did not make me want to go get it. His pitch made it sound like Steve Buschemi was semi predatory toward Scarlett Johansson and Thora Birch which I didn’t really want to watch.

Cut to this month where I work with a highly intelligent Jewish man with a wickedly dark sense of humor (ringing any bells? Not my SNB but eerily similar) who also suggested Ghost World. Knowing my co-worker’s refined taste in film (Man For All Seasons, his favorite which I have not seen yet) and coming off a couple of great recommendations from him (my personal favorite was The Night of the Iguana), when he suggested Ghost World, I decided to bite.

And I’m so glad I did! Though mysteries abound now, even more than why my SNB doesn’t miss me; like how Thora Birch went from stunning in this film (and previous to that American Beauty) to mediocre obscurity. And the director, Terry Zwigoff, who is so against THE MAN that he hasn’t done anything since Art School Confidential in 2006 (though does have a tv movie coming out this year about a start up marijuana business). Sadness tinges this film in worse ways, Brad Renfro, who plays the girls’ guy pal, died of a drug overdose in 2008.

At any rate, Steve Buschemi is not the predator, in fact the girls are! Poor Buschemi is the prey and a fantastic actor in playing the vulnerable guy who can’t get a date! Illeana Douglass was fabulous as the overly subjective art teacher as is Bob Balaban, as Thora’s non-confrontational dad. Aside on Balaban, I just put a request in on the Golden Globe nominated film Georgia O’Keefe tv film he directed which sounds fascinating!

The only thing I didn’t like about Ghost World was the ending, but I do understand the reason for it. Definitely worth seeing, a unique movie with an interesting soundtrack to boot.