Friday, January 14, 2011

Exit through the Gift Shop

Part II of my documentary round-up.  Part 1 was Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work


Exit Through the Gift Shop - I'd heard a lot about this movie before I saw it, so I had pretty high expectations, and the first 45 minutes lived up to those expectations, telling a great story about life in the "street art"/graffiti world.  Some of the footage of creating the art is fascinating and beautiful.  A French artist named Thierry films everything, but obviously hasn't got a clue about film making, but when he encounters an elusive street artist named Banksy, things get odder and odder.  Thierry becomes an artist himself, using the techniques of all the people he's watched to create new images and place them in newer places and in bigger venues.  I was reminded of The Gates, an installation art project of lots of orange gates in Central Park a few years ago by Christo and Jeanne-Claude.  I think that's what this movie does best is give people uninitiated with the concept of graffiti as art a place to start thinking about it.  Yes there's a subversive element to the art created in the movie, but just because they had permits and a time-frame and did things during the day, doesn't make The Gates less interesting.  There's an element of forbidden and illegal in the street art painted on buildings, but the art Thierry ultimately does is popular and expensive but still evolved from the same place.  Not an amazing film, but a good look at a world I'd barely noticed. 2.5 of 5 stars/lambs (4/5 for the first half and 2 of 5 for the second half).

Part III will be Restrepo

4 comments:

Robert said...

It is a fascinating look at a little-known topic. It was so interesting to learn about all the street artists who I had no idea existed!

The Mad Hatter said...

You think you're done? You're not done...

Totally follow what you like about this movie...now tell us what you didn't like in that back half (what earned it the 2?).

Jess said...

Sorry, it was mostly that it felt really redundant from the first half, and very unclear what the point was. Was it really about how street art can evolve into pop art, or about Thierry stealing all this street art and selling it as his own (which since he did convert it a bit to make it right for sale, it might have been) or was it just more, less interesting info about the world of street art? I've since heard that perhaps it was a mockumentary by Banksy about Thierry, or perhaps mocking the people who were willing to pay enormous amounts for Thierry's "artwork". Either way, it lost direction, it lost the innovative nature of the first half - showing how street art gets made and even thought up. It just lost the flow of the first half and dragged on too long. Hence the 2.

Nick said...

I actually disagree somewhat about that second half. I think the first half was all setup for the second half and that the point of the film didn't lie in that first section. I think Banksy says from the very beginning that he took this documentary and made it about Thierry instead (which happens in the second half). And that, I think, is where it gets its innovation.

Though not to harp on the first half, which was truly fascinating on its own. I just don't think the film lost its way halfway through... I just think it took its time getting to the point. But in order to get to said point, it had to introduce us to a hell of a lot.