Saturday, 7 May 2011

Enter Through The Door - Part Of Documentary Day... Or Is It?

Nominated for an Oscar and was a huge hopeful for the win due to the director's need for secrecy. Speculation arose to what would happen if he won. A monkey suit perhaps? Maybe he wouldn't turn up. Who knows. We'll never know. It is however, a documentary. Or is it? This is Exit Through The Gift Shop.

Famous street artist Banksy takes up the task of directing. Well, sort of. Let's start at the beginning. Thierry Guetta, a French shop owner living in LA, films his every move. Everything he does, he has a camera in his hand. One day, while visiting his family, he discovers that his cousin is street artist, Space Invader. Fascinated by the night time world of the street artist, he goes out with Space Invader to film him working. He thinks it's a wonderful idea: to create something you're passionate about and putting it out in the open for all to see. Space Invader then takes a trip to LA to spread his work to America and introduces Thierry to other street artists, in particular, Shepard Fairey. Eventually, Thierry decides he's going to publicise the world of street art in the form of a documentary. But his film is missing something. The famous Banksy. The elusive British artist reamins hidden... that is until Banksy needs a hand in LA and a friend of Thierry's suggests that Thierry could help. The two strike up a friendship and do everything in LA together. This friendship leads to questioning by Disneyland, a terrible documentary by the name of Life Remote Control and the invention of Mr Brainwash.

Banksy wasn't sure about being filmed. He could smell a rat.

Is it real. Oh gosh. I really don't know. Arguments for and against are both rather solid. But it doesn't matter. It's a great film. It's funny. But most of all, it's a brilliant tribute to the talent and reasoning behind street art. Thierry is supposedly a real man despite claims he's not. He's mostly a nice guy. He's helpful, determined, always willing to help and smart. He's fun to watch as he's a really bubbly personality that emits happiness. Banksy's occasional input keeps the audience aware of how we should feel towards the events in the movie, particularly Mr Brainwash near the end. Other inputs are equally entertaining such as police turning up every now and then and causing Fairey to fall of his ladder.

When the late 1800s phoned and asked for their mutton chops back,
Thierry was very offended.

The often overlooked point of the film is a statement about the nature of art and popular culture as well as a look into the deeply secret world of street artists. If you're a fan of street art, this is a must see. From small pictures of space invaders to inflatable Guantanamo Bay prisoners in Disneyland, this movie gives an otherwise unseen insight into the creating process of street art and the passion behind it. It also shows how that can be lost through commercialism. Whether it is real or fake does not matter. The fact that one can't tell makes it all the more impressive if it was staged. However, the film producers are apparently very upset that people think it's a hoax after all the effort that they went though to search all the tapes of footage. Apparently, to just pass it off as a hoax doesn't give it the credit it deserves. And I agree. I personally believe it to be real, at least to a point. Call it ignorance, I call it acceptance.

Great movie, less than 90 minutes long. Definitely worth watching, especially if you're an art fan. To see one of my favourite installation pieces (The crumpled phonebox) being created was really cool.
Best Bit? I loved all the 'Behind the scenes' of art sort of things. Particularly with Fairey and at Disneyland.

P.S. I researched this film a lot to decide how authentic it is. I ended up having twelve movie related tabs open on my computer. I still can't decide. That's how good it is.

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