Fans of controversial street artist Banksy should ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’
Published: Monday, March 7, 2011
Updated: Monday, March 7, 2011 23:03
Those who don't know the name Banksy aren't keeping up with the times.
Banksy is the pseudonym of an anonymous British graffiti artist, a man who works in various art forms to pass along a message of unrest via stenciled images.
His first foray into film, "Exit Through the Gift Shop," continues that very idea.
"Gift Shop" is a documentary that focuses on French-born Thierry Guetta, an eccentric man who enjoys filming things.
His life changes when he learns that his cousin is the street artist Space Invader, a man who places tiles of pixel-based video game characters around the city.
Soon, Guetta is meeting and filming as many of these artists as he can find, artistic revolutionaries such as Shepard Fairey, who designed the Obama "Hope" poster and came up with the "Andre the Giant has a posse" sticker campaign, as well as more mysterious artists such as Swoon and Andre.
His ideal subject is the reclusive Banksy, an artist known for letting his art speak his mind, and, while at first it seems his dream will be unfulfilled, soon an encounter between the two leads to Guetta coming up with his own street art persona, as well as the very documentary released.
While Banksy put together the footage and ties the film together through interviews, the storytelling is almost entirely from Guetta's point-of-view, thanks to his obsession with keeping a camera on him at all time.
The footage used captures Guetta's personality almost perfectly, as if viewers are watching the world through this slightly unhinged man's eyes, consisting of odd angles and inexplicable zooms.
However, underneath Guetta's quirks is a legitimate film about artists as they go about spreading their message while avoiding the police and giving people a look into a world they may have never considered.
The film also features narration by Welsh actor Rhys Ifans, whose voice matches the tone of the film perfectly.
My only complaint about the film is that it focuses on Guetta more than the artists I care about.
That has actually been some of the controversy surrounding the film. Guetta and his artistic persona, Mr. Brainwash, have been proposed as being a creation of Banksy, his critique on documentaries or filmmaking.
While that may make the film seem more possible for some, I don't buy it.
Guetta seems to be a truly eccentric man, and the events that happen are too spontaneous and real to be something that could be made up.
When it comes down to it, truth is stranger than fiction, and some lives may just be stranger than others.
There was a reason this film was Oscar-nominated, and as many people as possible should watch this view into another world.
If anything, it may give them a newfound appreciation for words spray painted on a billboard.