musicforwolves (musicforwolves) wrote,

Midnight Music 7 and review of Exit Through the Gift Shop

     In the background, the opening of Dancer in the Dark is playing. It looks like it will prove to be as depressing as you'd expect for a film about Bjork slowly going blind. There are also no subtitles, so I'll have to keep switching back and forth between movie and post.

     Meanwhile, it's past midnight, so I shall pick what I was listening to as I was working on some street art earlier tonight: something nice and quiet by Muse.


     Before the street art and the wonderful music, I attended Exit Through the Gift Shop...

     I went into this film with a very specific understanding of how it was made - without knowing anything about the plot, I knew that it was a film made by a guy named Thierry about a street artist named Banksy, only for the power structure to switch around during the making of it and end up being a film made by Banksy about Thierry. I think my understanding may have been wrong, and that I, like everyone else in the audience, was the unsuspecting centre of a great practical joke. That said, I'm not entirely certain of that. It could just be a number of totally improbable events that actually happened.
     A man who has an obsession with filming everything falls into the role of recording the process of a number of street artists. Being the kind of guy who apparently gets obsessed quite easily, Thierry explains his filming as being a documentary about street art and starts a relatively sedate artistic career of his own. Showing his completed 'film' to Banksy, Banksy steps in and redoes the whole thing, ending by documenting Thierry's ridiculously over-the-top gallery opening. And that's kind of the problem with the film. At some point, it stops being real. Or maybe it never was, but either way, near the end I realised that it was almost impossible for a man like Thierry to have done this stuff. We're talking some kind of artistic genius that a man like this just doesn't possess. Thierry is a madman, turning out works of careful thought. The question becomes, 'how was this put together?', and I just don't have an answer for that.

     On a filmic level, though, this one is a beauty. It follows a number of street artists on their jaunts, and we get to see the work that goes into some pretty iconic images: whether it's the Andre the Giant artist Shepard Fairey at Kinko's, or Banksy setting up his ladder for his Left Bank works, there's some reality going on here. There's also a certain amount of pleasure and suspense to be gained as well from watching the artists run from the cops, or Banksy setting up his Guantanamo prisoner at Disneyland. But all the things in this that we know to be real point even further to those that are definitely fake. The film suggests that Banksy stepped in to this film's production because Thierry's cut was so bad. We get to see how bad it is for ourselves: mind-numbingly, horrifically bad, like someone played with all the functions on Final Cut Pro at the same time. It's impossibly bad, in fact: nobody that has ever seen a movie would foist something like this on the world.
     So, Exit Through the Gift Shop is a good movie. I enjoyed it, even through the patently false moments. But I left with that feeling where you know you've been had, but can't quite put your finger on how it happened or whether you're happy about it or not. At one point, Banksy says "I don't know how to make a movie." That's not true. He does know how to, but this film doesn't quite make it to the top of the medium. I enjoyed it more when it was a documentary about street art, rather than a mockumentary about documentaries.

Tags: midnight music, review

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