Saturday, November 06, 2010

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Exit Through the Gift Shop is a fantastic documentary about the underground graffiti street art movement in the 90s and 00s. It's a weird film to describe. Thierry Guetta owned a clothing store in L.A. and was a video enthusiast who constantly shot his life. He happened to cross paths with some LA street artists and began shooting them. Eventually this led to an introduction to the now legendary street artist Banksy, and somehow he got permission to shoot him. Somehow at some point it became clear that Guetta was not really a filmmaker and Banksy decided to turn the film around, and reedit Guetta's material into a film about him.

The film is much more interesting than that description. It's a film about the very nature of art, and ultimately it unmasks the tenuous relationship to traditional art that street artists have. Their art is ultimately very derivative, yet the best of those artists (like Banksy) somehow manage to be creative and original even when ripping off other famous artists. Banksy comes off as very smart and funny (although he did direct and edit the film) and clearly he has one point of view of Guetta.

In the end the film is fascinating and I highly recommend it, but be prepared for a very strange trip. It's not at all what you expect.
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