In which I blog a movie a day for one week…sort of.
Initially, I thought this movie would be a fun send-up of art school and those who attend/teach there. It is that, but it’s more dark-comedy-meets-murder-mystery than satire. It surprised me–in that it was better than I’d expected–but I’m left with a bitter taste (and I actually saw it more than one week ago; the bitterness remains).
There were the stereotypes that–after teaching at an art school for a semester last year–were immediately recognizable and funny. But behind the humor was a profound cynicism, something I saw in my students last year to some degree, but which the film brings to a new level. None of my students admitted to the aspiration of “Great Artist” or some equally idealist (and romantic) notion; they were well aware of job pressures and the market–some, as college freshman, better than me–but didn’t strike me as deeply cynical.
Now, how serious to take the movie? Or is it a film?
There were moments in which the viewer had to take a great leap in suspension of disbelief; at one point the students were in what appeared to be gym class–most definitely not an art school requirement. There were other moments, too, that I won’t give away, but you’ll know if you’ve seen it. The movie didn’t seem entirely satiric, yet I’m not sure how serious it wants to be–which may be the problem: it doesn’t know either.
The thesis of the movie seems to be that the only definition of art in America today is that which profits from the destruction of others. The artist (our protagonist) in the movie becomes, literally, a thief and a murderer. We’re not supposed to celebrate his success; the irony of the ending brings home the message of a corrupt industry. Is there a way to rescue art from capital? The movie seems to think not. What do you think?