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Exit Through the Gift Shop

A movie directed by Banksy

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Vandals or artists? Make your choice.

  • Jan 10, 2011
  • by
Rating:
+4
***1/2 out of ****

"Exit Through the Gift Shop" is a truly fascinating Documentary. Given the subject matter, it could have easily wasted its time trying to change our minds about Graffiti Art. Instead, "Exit Through the Gift Shop" wants us to merely watch a man record art in the making. And we're even treated to his own rise to fame. Yes, they have made a good documentary for just about anything. Now they have made one for Street Art, and "Exit Through the Gift Shop" is a truly marvelous and ominous production. There has been much speculation about the film; particularly regarding the classic "is it real, or is it not" deal. Why must we question everything? "Exit Through the Gift Shop" is a thoroughly insightful film and some seem to WANT to question its honesty. I just don't get that. Why ruin a film's quality? Why do that? People confuse me too often. None the less, I absolutely enjoyed myself while watching this highly intelligent doc. It didn't seek to change any of my views, which are positive, and it didn't do a whole lot in the way of effecting or reaching me. HOWEVER, that is not something to call a flaw. This film has few. As a Documentary, it's freaking brilliant. It's funny, intelligent, insightful, and entertaining as hell. Those who truly admire Graffiti Artists will have a heck of a ball, and anyone looking for a good time at the movies might as well find solace in the documentary as well. Like most Documentaries, pursue the film only if you have an interest whatsoever in watching these people do what they do. If you hate Graffiti, then give it up. This might as well not be worth your time. However, I doubt that most film-goers think that way. As a fellow film-goer, I'm open to just about anything good. I do not watch enough Documentaries and whenever I see a great one, it's often times very fascinating. I LIKE documentaries. I really do. Which is why I liked "Exit Through the Gift Shop". I mean, aside from being a Documentary, it's just a splendid film overall. It's well muscled, with more than enough perks to keep it very watchable and even intellectually satisfying. What's not to like? Not much, actually. You'll probably like just about everything that this flat-out-brilliant film has to offer. For that, I say DEFINITELY see it.

"Exit Through the Gift Shop" follows an amateur wannabe-filmmaker as he documents the works of various Underground Graffiti Artists. Some of these many artists include Invader, Shepard Fairey, and the infamous Banksy. The film focuses as much on the art as it does on the people who bring it all to life. The man shooting most of the Documentary goes by the name of Thierry Guetta. He is the one who takes it upon himself to meet and get to know each major Street Artist, whatever the cost. The hardest one to get a hold of is Banksy, whose art style is seriously intriguing. However, as one could probably expect, Thierry does indeed get a hold of Banksy after a few good attempts; thus the two become quite close. Soon, Thierry is helping put together Banksy's big shows, following him to high places, and even joining him on an adventure to Disney Land. Through each of these adventures, Thierry gets the idea that perhaps he is not a filmmaker. Perhaps he should pursue Graffiti for himself. Of course, he does this. And you know what: he becomes a big sensation over-night. The film documents all of this and morel thus I wouldn't want to spoil a whole lot of it. All you really need to know is that "Exit Through the Gift Shop" is very well-done and very entertaining. It's both funny and intelligent while honest and tense. The idea that perhaps not all of it is true only seems to add to the film's quality. Like most documentaries, it's up to the viewer to truly decide what is true and what is not. It's a huge, ingenious deception of a film. And that's what I love most about it.

Guetta was absolutely endearing. For some reason, you get to like the guy through his "performance" in the Documentary. Perhaps it's not so clearly endearing, and it takes time to get to know his character. But that's why it's such a worthwhile film; because in the end, you'll feel somewhat attached. Bansky does indeed star in this film as himself, although we never see his face (which is probably his choice). The rest of the Grafitti artists are good and make us want to watch them talk about their art for a couple good minutes. The only other thing that I should mention regarding this department is that Rhys Efans narrates a good portion of the film. That's probably how I somehow got linked to the Wikipedia page for this Documentary film on the day that I learned of it. That's just how things work a lot of the time. For me at least.

"Exit Through the Gift Shop" is a Graffiti Artist's joint. You literally can't go a minute without something regarding Graffiti appearing (which is probably due to the fact that the film is ABOUT Graffiti art). Yes, this is an intriguing documentary about Street/Graffiti art. It doesn't care if you want to see it; it doesn't care if you like Graffiti. It just exists, and it's open to anyone who will accept it for what it truly is. I think I am one of those souls who could appreciate the film despite the obvious deceptions. Was everything about it true? Probably not. But in being questionable, the film actually manages to get better. The hype surrounding the film must have done more good than it did bad, although there are always those bastards out there who aim to ruin it for us all. Unlike some very special documentaries, "Exit Through the Gift Shop" does not belong to a genre, nor does it become one as it goes on. It starts a documentary and it stays a documentary. I'm not complaining about this since the film itself was never boring. Thus it kept me consistently interested. It will divide some people in their opinion as most good documentaries do, but if you can appreciate it for being awesome and entertaining throughout, then you may enjoy yourself. I highly recommend you give "Exit Through the Gift Shop" a go-round. It's an intelligent and funny piece of work, which is why you simply can't miss it. Also, if I may add a little "final side note", the song "Tonight The Streets Are Ours"...is just plain badass. And it's played TWICE in the film. Joy!

You will probably enjoy this film for whatever it sets out to be or what it manages to accomplish. As a documentary, it's pretty spectacular. Let me be one of the many who will tell you just how good it is. All I have to say is that it's about as good as they're saying it is. Some will love it more than I did. And some will fail to see why the hell it's so special. I can totally understand that. It's a Documentary, and even though it's not really trying to make a statement, it's still not for everyone. But I'm assuming most of us film buffs have seen enough films to know that just about anything good is worth a peek. And "Exit Through the Gift Shop" is most definitely worth a good look. But that's just my opinion. You know: I need to watch more of these ever-so- fascinating documentaries. They are indeed whimsical in their quality and dazzling in their insight. "Exit Through the Gift Shop" is the best Documentary of 2010 that I have personally come across. But then again I have not seen every 2010 documentary, or every 2010 film for the matter. Why would I? It's enough having to dig through all the crappy films to find something that's worth a damn. But when you do happen upon a masterpiece or at least a pretty piece of genuine entertainment, then you feel as if it was all worth it. "Exit Through the Gift Shop" is a film worth discovering, and I guarantee that whether you end up liking it or not, you'll get lost in it. I guess it all depends on in which context. Will getting lost in it be a bad thing or a good thing? That's purely up to you. All I know is: it's absorbing. Purely absorbing. Entertaining, ingenious, intellectually stimulating, and insightful. All of these things describe Banksy's directorial debut. Who knew the guy was an artist of two different forms of media? Things can surprise you. Even if they are little. Banksy's taut direction proves that he too can be a directorial artist, and I look forward to seeing whatever else he may have in store for those who care.

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March 22, 2011
Great review! LOVE your line "It doesn't care if you want to see it; it doesn't care if you like Graffiti. It just exists, and it's open to anyone who will accept it for what it truly is." Really well put, thx!
 
January 11, 2011
I skimmed through your review since I want to see this real soon. It sounds very interesting!! Thanks!
 
January 11, 2011
I'm so glad you loved it! I JUST added this to my Netflix last night because I love Graffiti and have even done some pieces myself. Banksy is pretty hardcore on his identity so it doesn't surprise me that they don't show his face. That's the whole point of his persona. Now, I'm really looking forward to seeing this! I also featured it in my Hip-Hop Culture Community and posted it on my Hip-Hop Culture Facebook page. Thanks for sharing :)
 
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More Exit Through the Gift Shop reviews
Quick Tip by . March 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Great documentary! Compelling and fascinating all the way through -- VERY thought provoking on rich topics, ranging from what art really is or isn't to opportunists and certain societal / cultural tendencies to be more conducive to those opportunists. Love how the story was told - not as you'd anticipate - and LOVED the first hand insight from the prolific Bansky and Shepard Fairey -- so cool that they just took this whole experience for what it was and gave a real account (rather than trying …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Director: Banksy
Genre: Comedy, Documentary
Release Date: 5 March 2010 (UK)
MPAA Rating: R
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