Friday, April 10, 2015

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010) ***

The satirical 2010 documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop explores the mysterious artist known as Banksy.  Based in England, Banksy's style calls to mind Warhol, Tarantino, and Che Guevara. He leaves subversive, ironic pieces of art at strategic locations around the world. For example, he once visited Disneyland and left a dummy of a Guantanamo prisoner beside the Thunder Mountain rollercoaster - much to the chagrin of Disney Security.  In a suspicious twist, Banksy takes over directing duties halfway through the film and the focus then shifts to Mr. Brainwash (who had been filming Bansky). We also meet other street artists such as Invader, who creates images from the classic video game Space Invaders.  Or Shepard Fairey, an L.A. based artist who fashions images of Andre the Giant with an "Obey" inscription.  Meanwhile Mr. Brainwash, a French expat living in LA, creates his own mash up portraits of pop culture icons, a twist on Warhol.  Mr. Brainwash evolves into a sort of doppelganger of Bansky; one who creates art for fame and fortune.  While Exit Through the Gift Shop maintains a comical tone, there's a queasy undercurrent on the inevitable commodification of all art. 

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