EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
After getting a video camera, French immigrant Thierry Guetta couldn’t stop shooting footage. Soon, his passion for videography leads him to start documenting the work of various street artists. Soon, he crosses paths with the infamous street artist Banksy who takes a shine to Guetta. After Guetta fails at putting his footage together into anything coherent, Banksy helps edit the film into a documentary of Guetta’s transformation to newcomer artist Mister Brainwash.
WHAT I LIKED
The narrative of this feature makes it even more interesting than many fictional features out there. There’s a real passion behind this movie and an unflinching look at the lives of street artists. For someone who has lived in the suburbs all my life and hasn’t really gotten into the arts scene, it’s a neat window into that life.
The characters are as compelling as you will see in anything else. Banksy is his own antihero of the film, and Guetta is fascinating to watch in his obsessive glory.
With all this in consideration, there’s a lot of speculation that this movie itself is a hoax. With 2010 being the year of the fake documentary (e.g., “The Last Exorcism,” “Catfish” and “Paranormal Activity 2”), it’s impossible to not question “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” In a strange way, if it is its own bizarre form of made-up street art, the film becomes even more fascinating. This way, it’s no longer just a look at an artist exploding onto the scene, but rather the manipulation of the media to tell people what is art and what isn’t.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
As fascinating as this film is about looking into the lives of people I do not normally socialize with, the interest ends there. I have nothing against art as a pursuit, but a film like this does force you to question the arbitrary nature of it all.
Additionally, this might make me sound like a fuddy-duddy, but I’m not all that hip to the street art love. I know there are certain elements that can be fascinating, and anyone would love it if Banksy made a canvas out of their front door. But for lesser artists, it’s nothing more than graffiti. And people who claim to love street art might change their tune if an artist they didn’t quite like decided to deface their personal property in the process.
The disc itself contains some neat supplementals to the film – and the world of street art itself – which make it worth checking out. First, there’s “B Movie,” which is a middle-length documentary about the art of the elusive Banksy.
There’s also a hefty number of deleted scenes, plus the “Lawyer’s edit” of Thierry Guetta’s first crack at filmmaking “Life Remote Control.” It’s seizure-inducing, sure, but interesting to watch against the context of this film.
If you’ve sprung for the full DVD package, you also get a fold-out package featuring street art, a pair of star glasses and post cards and decals featuring the work of Banksy and Mr. Brainwash.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Edgy fans in the arts community.