Weekend Film Recommendation: Exit Through the Gift Shop

8 Jul

This is the second documentary that I’ve done for the WFR (Hoop Dreams was the first), and this one stuck with me a little more than usual. While many documentaries tell heart-wrenching stories, or try to prove a political point, Exit Through the Gift Shop examines the question “what is art?”. While the documentary doesn’t blatantly ask that, the twists and turns of the story end up there, and show someone who truly missed the point about what “street art” is all about.

The film’s “protagonist” is Thierry Guetta, a man who films almost every moment of his life. Through his relative, he is introduced to the underground world of street art and he becomes obsessed. In his adventures, he meets Shepard Fairey, who you may know was the man who did the “Hope” posters for the Obama campaign. Guerry follows Fairey around, even to other countries, as Fairey puts up his artwork on various city buildings and landmarks. Guerry’s travels lead him to the most famous street artist, Banksy, who is known for his controversial works of art and the fact that he never allows his face to be filmed or photographed. Banksy and Guerry begin a friend/mentor relationship and Banksy becomes intrigued by , and turns the camera on his life. From there, the viewer begins to see the distinction between art and imitation, and leads to a powerful conclusion.

The documentary is entertaining throughout, as the viewer gets to see a world few get to see and meet the compelling people involved. It’s also an interesting look at the faddish art scene in L.A. as well, and how the masses get swept to whatever is trendy, even if they don’t completely understand. This atypical documentary received high marks on RottenTomatoes (98%) and was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Documentary category. It’s only 86 minutes long, so if you have some time to kill this weekend, check it out.

To add Exit Through the Gift Shop to your Netflix Instant Queue, click here.


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