Matt Keeslar

Matt Keeslar

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Art School Confidential Review


Excellent
Few things are more mystifying to outsiders than the world of modern art. Which of course makes it the perfect backdrop for a Terry Zwigoff film. Where else is eccentricity, flamboyance, and pretension considered normal? And who's more alienated and misunderstood than an art student rejected by his art school classmates, who are, quite naturally, alienated and misunderstood themselves? Art School Confidential, Zwigoff's latest, mines this territory for humor and poignancy, raising questions about the nature of art and alienation.As in Zwigoff's previous films, which include Crumb, Ghost World, and Bad Santa, Art School's hero is far from heroic. Played by Max Minghella, with his dark eyes and brooding bushy brows, Jerome Platz is a young art student whose primary aspiration is to be the greatest artist of the 21st century, the next Picasso. His secondary concern -- to find an emotional, intellectual, erotic connection with a woman -- proves even more ambitious since he feels only one girl, luminous art model Audrey (Sophia Myles), is worthy of his attention.The trouble is, after an initial connection with Jerome, Audrey shifts her attention to another freshman painter, the hunky Jonah, whose simple, innocent paintings have turned him into something of a campus hero. In order to win Audrey back, Jerome asks for the help of Jimmy (Jim Broadbent), a bitter, reclusive, alcoholic painter. Broadbent's performance is the film's strongest, which is saying something in a film packed with celebrated actors. His Jimmy is sensitive and fearsome, wise, and terrible -- all at once. At several points in the film, during fits of artistic pique, Jimmy's eyes flash with anger and fix on Jerome -- and the misery of a rotten, wasted life paralyzes both Jerome and the audience. The jolting power of these moments, of Broadbent's poisonous eyes, makes his turn a thing to behold.Jerome's classmates and instructors at the Strathmore Institute figure prominently in the film's wry exploration of what makes good art good, and what makes the truest art timeless. Professor Sandiford (John Malkovich) is a failed painter who is unable to see Jerome's talent and potential but wouldn't mind sleeping with him. Jerome's roommate Vince (Ethan Suplee, of TV's My Name Is Earl) is a fast-talking, sexually obsessed film student. And Jerome's friend Bardo is a talentless, wayward womanizer who doesn't belong in art school. Several heavyweight actors play the bit parts that round out the cast, including Angelica Huston as a sage art history professor, Steve Buscemi as a freewheeling gallery owner, and Michael Lerner as a greedy art dealer.Art School marks Zwigoff's second collaboration with Daniel Clowes, who wrote both the screenplay and the graphic novel on which it was based. Their first collaboration, the 2001 film Ghost World, earned them an avalanche of critical praise and an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. However, Art School isn't as good as Ghost World, despite their abundant similarities. The connection between the central characters in Ghost World, Thora Birch's Enid and Buscemi's Seymour, was fascinating, odd, and easily understood. Jerome and Audrey's relationship, meanwhile, never takes shape, partly because Audrey's character is completely lifeless. Zwigoff and Clowes never get around to showing us who she is or what she wants. It's never clear why she would turn her back on Jerome to pursue Jonah when she knows better than anyone that Jerome is the real talent.Such problems keep Art School from the heights of achievement of Ghost World and Crumb, but don't keep it from being a provocative, entertaining movie. Art School will go down as a minor work from the maker of off-kilter gems.Between you and me...

Psycho Beach Party Review


Extraordinary
Not since Rocky Horror has the film world produced such a vibrant farce of teen angst, violence, and sexual deviance. And here comes Rocky's comeuppance, as off-Broadway cult icon Charles Busch has scripted a work of sheer demented brilliance in the gleefully absurd Psycho Beach Party.

Originally performed on the stage, Psycho Beach Party is the story of a teenage girl who wants desperately to surf. It's also the story of a female cop who used to be a man. And some homoerotic surfers. And a beautiful movie star who's hiding from Hollywood. And an alcoholic mother with no grasp of the present. And a psychotic killer who hacks people up for their imperfections. And it all takes place at Malibu Beach in 1962.

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Texas Rangers Review


Grim
I think it was supposed to come out in 1999, but it was the end of 2001 before Texas Rangers finally rode into movie theaters -- only to ride right out again following a complete lack of publicity. The most interesting anecdote I can remember about the movie's release is an Entertainment Weekly chronology of events on opening day at one theater -- where six people came for the screening.

Following the critically and commercially massacred American Outlaws, Texas Rangers also tried to spin American history with a hippish, young cast, in this case Dawson's Creek star James Van Der Beek, Ashton Kutcher, and Usher Raymond -- as the first recruits of what would become the famous Texas Rangers.

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The Run of the Country Review


OK
Has a teenager ever had it this rough, even in Ireland? Dead mother, cold father, pregnant girlfriend, dead best friend. Geez, he even gets tarred and feathered. Fortunately, the few comic touches (like Keeslar's blessing a pig by saying "oink" backwards) are enough to make this rise above your usual Irish-as-downtrodden-victims fare and into the realm of watchability, though the melodrama eventually gets as thick as a pint of Guinness.

Rose Red Review


Grim
Invest six hours in the DVD release of this Steven King miniseries and you'll come out... well, a lot like a guy who wasted four hours and 15 minutes on a crummy Steven King miniseries.

At its heart, the movie is a haunted house flick in the vein of recent films like House on Haunted Hill and Thirteen Ghosts, albeit one that takes a long time to get going, a long time to build up a story, and a long time to get over with. But they had a lot of commercials to sell, so who can fault them, huh?

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Splendor Review


Grim

The heroine of "Splendor," Gregg Araki's new anything goes sex comedy, is irresistibly adorable -- a sexy, spunky, sparkling Generation Y Holly Golightly with bouncy, ringlet hair and a freckled nose.

But aside from inspiring the protective vibe in every guy she meets and lighting a fire in their loins as well, Veronica (Kathleen Robertson) doesn't have much going for her. She's shallow, self-absorbed, irresponsible and so wildly ambivalent that the plot hinges entirely on her inability to decide between three lovers.

Two of them -- struggling writer Abel (Johnathon Schaech) and dim-bulb punk rock drummer Zed (Matt Keeslar) -- are so whipped by Veronica's considerable charms that they agree to share the girl and her bed, and both boys move in, forming an oddly harmonious threesome in the big, funky L.A. flat she can inexplicably afford on her salary as an office temp and aspiring actress.

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Scream 3 Review


Grim

The minute Kevin Williamson said no to writing "Scream 3," that should have been the end of it. The only thing that made "Scream" special in the first place was the writer's dark, self-aware wit regarding the conventions of the cheesy teen horror genre.

But then, Williamson had already run out of steam when he wrote the series' second installment, which was little more than an unnecessarily convoluted, workaday slasher flick with a couple well-placed sardonic remarks.

Continuing the decline, now comes "Scream 3," which Wes Craven -- the director of the whole series -- swears will be the last one. Good thing, too.

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Matt Keeslar

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