Friday, February 18, 2011

Movie Review- Exit Through the Gift Shop

Yesterday I wrote my review of the Japanese animated film Summer Wars and I mentioned the modern art style created by Takashi Murakami called Superflat that was seen throughout the film. That got me thinking about an incredible documentary I saw earlier this year about the modern street art scene called Exit Through the Gift Shop. I can't believe it took me this long to get around writing my review for this film because it's probably one of my favorite films this year! Some of you may have heard buzz about this movie. Lately, the press has been getting wind about cryptic street art messages popping up over L.A. in the last few weeks. It's suspected that these are messages from the film's director, famous British artist Bansky, as a campaign to win an Oscar. Just take a look at this mural that appeared in L.A a few weeks ago that shows a Bansky-like Oscar statue surrounded by Storm Trooper production assistants.

Neat, eh? I'm not entirely convinced that this is actually work by Bansky but it's exciting none-the-less. The Academy seems to be shitting their pants trying to figure out what will possibly happen if Bansky wins the Oscar. For those of you who don't know. The identity of Bansky is pretty much unknown except to a few privileged souls and the man usually appears in a monkey mask. The Academy isn't amused by this fact but I personally would love to see Bansky accept an Oscar on stage wearing his monkey face!

So let me go into what this film is all about. An amateur French filmmaker named Thierry Guetta makes it his life work to document the underground world of street art. Street artists don't exactly use the most legal means to get their art work up onto the high-high of buildings. The film begins with Thierry following these street artists up to the roofs of buildings in order to film some of these street artists at work during the dead of night. During his adventures, he meets famous street artists such as Space Invader and Shepard Fairey, and he himself begins to get interested in leaving his own street art marks (a stencil of him holding a camera). In a amazing twist of fate, he gets the opportunity to meet one of the most famous street artists of all- Bansky. Bansky gives Thierry the amazing privileged to actually film him at work in order to create his documentary (granted his face is blurred and voice is distorted in the movie).

As interesting as the documentary is at this point, the film takes a hilarious turn. Thierry presents his completed film to Bansky and Bansky, needless to say, was not impressed. At this point, Bansky decides to take over the film making duties for the documentary (the first film project he has ever attempted) while Thierry takes this opportunity to reinvent himself as a street artist. I was slightly confused at this point in the film because I couldn't quite understand Thierry's art. Everything he was producing looked like something I've seen before that could be found displayed in the atrium of a office building. As Thierry prepares for his first art show in L.A., his production crew is not impressed, as it becomes obvious he doesn't really know what he's doing. Thierry renames himself as Mr. Brainwash and the people of L.A. immediately take to admiring him with the opening of his show.

Artists typically take their entire lives to figure out their own unique style, but for Thierry, it took a handful of months. The L.A. art scene completely eats up his work and throws down their money down at his feet. So what really constitutes art? Do Americans just have a craving to act cultured and will eat up whatever bullshit is suppose to be the new thing? This is a hugely entertaining film and it's absolutely hilarious! The movie is chuck full of beautiful street art and never before seen footage on top of the hilarious glimpse into the creation of Mr. Brainwash. Bansky's brilliance really shines through in his documentary. Some folks believe that the whole film is a documention of one huge hoax created by Bansky, and Thierry was in on the whole thing as a way to prove the over-commercialization of BS street art that people eat up and go ape shit over. That certainly would be interesting- I look forward to seeing what happens on Oscar night.

Final Score- 10/10

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