Film: Exit Through the Gift Shop

4/3/11

This movie / documentary and possible mockumentary…is not what you’re going to expect.   

 
Yes, it’s directed by and heavily promoted via street graffiti artist / hero / conceptualist / sometimes anarchist, Banksy.  But it’s not necessarily about him.  Wait a second!  This film isn’t about him at all!
 
The movie don’t worry no real spoilers coming) is really about Thierry Guetta (um, no relation to David Guetta as far as we know) and his obsessive otaku of filming, filming, filming…filming and filming...everything...and how he ultimately became the semi official street documentarian of the underworld street artists.  

 
And no, not just graffiti artists, tagging up the place (p.s. if I find the jerko that tagged by Toyota Prius…you’re gonna need some new kneecaps)…but artists with philosophy, ironicism, social statements and questioning the status quo.  That’s what great art’s supposed to do right?
 
With probably a zillion hours (literally if you believe zillion is a word because…I do) of footage shot, Thierry goes about making his documentary of the underground street art scene, including iconic Banksy.  
 
Thiery shows his film to Bansky who says ala Simon Cowell that it’s total crap.  (Actually they should have got Banksy to replace Simon on American Idol).   
 
But Banksy gets a crafty idea and suggests a trade…he says to Thiery…’I’ll make this documentary for you...and direct the film out of your footage, and you can yeah...go and ‘try doing some art.’  Thierry takes this as a commandment from God himself.  And like Noah, building his great ark, Thierry goes about reinventing himself as MBW, Mr. Brain Wash.  And not just making some casual street art…but in full production mode with assistants, artists working for him...Andy Warhol style.
 
The last 30 minutes of the film is more or less setting up for and the premier of Mr Brain Wash’s L.A. premier for ‘Life Is Beautiful’ where he’ll display all his art.  It’s a MASSIVE production.  Of course, Banksy was in L.A. not too long ago with his ‘Barely Legal’ exhibit and the bar was set hugely (I was there, trust me it was very cool) with actual painted real life pink elephants in the room hugely (not an exaggeration of course).
 
I’ll let you see the film to see what happens.  But the film lends itself to some pretty amazing questions.  Was this all a joke?  Is this Banksy pulling another fast one on us?  Was Banksy in secret collusion with Thiery to create a mass hysteria in the art houses to bid up 2nd rate street art as the next big thing?  $20,000 for this piece.  $60,000 for that piece, etc.  
 
Is art just what people say it is?  Did everyone who paid out the nose for a Banksy piece…did they get hookwinked too?  Is the joke on them and us?  
 
Probably.
 
Ayn Rand (author of the classics ‘The Fountainhead’ and ‘Atlas Shrugged’) says that it takes two people to make art.  One to make it.  Another with some type of authority to say ‘this is great art.’  
 
Let’s hope someone points in your direction.
 
The Best Of Banksy