Saturday, June 5, 2010

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

Is this a documentary or a tall tale? Street Art (or a more sophisticated version of Graffiti), becoming some kind of revolutionary form of expression. This film focus initially was to tell the history of it I guess. Some of the well known names and their work. One artist from France who specialized in using icons from the Atari game "Space Invaders." Another named Shepard Fairy who is probably best known for creating the Barack Obama "Hope" poster/image. And then apparently the highly touted and elusive British artist "Banksy."

Eventually the film maker, Thierry Guetta (who goes on to call himself Mr.Brainwash), is inspired so much by the artists and art work he's shot, and in the process of compiling 1000's of hours of footage, he wants to do his own art. And he sets up his own extensive gallery that stays open for a number of weeks I recall. The art he does, like a lot of the stuff he was inspired by, uses pop-culture images, often combining them. One for example has Elvis and the guitar he normally is holding is replaced by a machine gun.

For entertainment value, this was very effective. The interviews, stories told, footage, and Thierry himself is worth seeing this for. For accuracy and treating this as a pure documentary, it's pretty gray. No question a lot of the footage and artwork (and artists themselves) are totally 100% real. But many of the stories and I would guess a lot of the artwork were not, at least entirely as they appear in this film.

Is it propaganda? not exactly like a Michael Moore-picture. Although to say there is/was at some level, a political agenda in it could be accurate. It's more about freedom of speech and expression. And I think the film maker did set out to show the world how vast and widespread Street Art is, or can be. Now how popular it becomes as a result of this movie, I would question. But at least it's been given some slightly more mainstream coverage than it probably has before.

But as a piece of art, especially the excellent editing work which I'm sure the film maker labored away at for countless hours, this is a highly recommend-able movie.