Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Movie Review: Exit Through the Gift Shop

Does it matter if a documentary is real or not? Does a mockumentary have to declare itself one? Exit Through the Gift Shop is a documentary that will have you questioning its truth long after viewing it. The documentary chronicles 'street art' and the relationship Thierry Guetta develops with the premier artists of the genre. The documentary has many cool 'reality' moments and many funny parts, segments or observations from interviewed subjects. This is an entertaining 90 minutes that you will not regret.

The subject matter, street art, is rather interesting as it concerns that far line of art that blends with graffiti. The segments that capture the street art being created are very interesting as you see these graffiti artists at the apex of skill envisioning, preparing and then placing their art. I love the creative process, and art is about the journey not the destination. Seeing the "Andre the Giant has a Posse" creator and learning he was the man behind the Obama - Hope image, I was blown away. That artist had started the Andre the Giant work as an exploration on propaganda and its power just in existing (even when devoid of meaning). The Obama - Hope posters are a great example of that concept. I have jpegs on my old college cpu of Huey Lewis done in Soviet style by Shepard Fairey. Interesting. I wish these guys would take on the big banks.

Thierry meets Banksy and the movie gets kicked up a notch. This is due to Banksy's secretive nature and his level of invasion of the public space. Listening to Banksy and his desire for a documentary of the street art movement, I get the feeling this entire film is a mockumentary but in that manner it is a documentary of the street art world. Thierry's devolution into "Mr. Brainwash", a street artist himself, and his absolutely ridiculous cliche of modern French artist with no meaning is too ridiculous to be real. He has no original thought, is a rip off of just about everything, and has every bad habit of the modern artist. Was the entire "Mr. Brainwash" gallery and this movie a joke on the art world and viewers? I believe it is. The fantastic thing about the documentary, the marketing, and the commitment to the story (if a hoax), is that it is so tightly done that you do have to consider it real. It would be great to see it win the 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary only to be revealed to be a fake at the award show.

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