Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Paranoid Pictures
Originally uploaded by Peter Gasston
Exit Through The Gift Shop has been described as a street art disaster movie, something I didn’t understand until I watched it. I was under the common misconception that Exit was about Banksy. Now that I’ve seen the film I completely agree with calling it a disaster film.

More than just being a cut and dry documentary, Exit is at first a tale of a man (Thierry) who finds and falls in love with street art and falls so hard for it he decides to do a documentary on it. However, Thierry’s documentary is so incoherent that his friend Banksy convinces him to drop the camera and attempt making street art himself – something all of the street artists later regret as he becomes Mr. Brainwash – in essence a street art sell-out.

What I question about Exit Through the Gift Shop, and not in a way that should imply I didn’t love this movie, is how much of the end is real or if it was staged. The entire theme of the film is about how the pure form of street art was corrupted and commercialized over time, and Mr. Brainwash fits that so perfectly it makes me wonder if he was either invented or exaggerated for the sake of the film. Granted, my entire education in street art comes from this film and a Banksy blog so I have no authority when questioning this, but it seems to be so perfect that it makes the writer in me wonder.

Whether Mr. Brainwash is fact or fiction, I know one thing – this film deserved it’s Oscar nomination.

Banksy: Uhmmm... You know... it was at that point that I realized that maybe Thierry wasn't actually a film maker, and he was maybe just someone with mental problems who happened to have a camera.

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