Friday, May 21, 2010

Exit Through the Gift Shop

The best, most interesting documentaries are always about crazy subjects and their perpetuators. This is one of the reasons why "Exit Through the Gift Shop" is one of the best documentaries ever made. This film restores your faith in "the medium," as it has been referred to by my doc enthusiast friend. It does all the things an ideal great film should, such as altering your perception of the world, and inspiring you to create art. It is a life-changing experience.

If Banksy is synonymous with "street art" (commonly referred to as "graffiti"), then, on a much smaller scale, Thierry Guetta is synonymous with documenting it. He originally was just an obsessive moviemaker who filmed literally everything he did, not in a Josh Harris/"We Live in Public" sort of way, but just to have an image to capture the way he looked at the world at a certain moment. Apparently, he stumbles upon (I believe) his cousin, who is an artist who makes mosaics of Space Invaders. From there, he takes off and goes and follows many, many different ones.

At first, he can't find the creme-de-la-creme, Banksy. He's the most well-known, having pulled off such "stunts" (as they are referred to) as putting his own paintings inside of art galleries, painting walls to look like they have holes in them, and (at one point) "camouflaging an elephant" (which got attention from pissed-off "animal rights activists"). Guetta eventually finds him, and develops a very complex relationship with him that, as said before, "leads into places you may or may not have guessed him to go."

Street art is at times minimalist, at times humorous, and at times awe-inspiring. This film reflects that. It is a very long 87 minutes, but I'm very glad that is so. "Exit Through the Gift Shop" is giddy and at times, as a friend said, "unrealistic." This could be seen as both a strength and a flaw. All-in-all, this is a very valuable film. A

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