An experience will ultimately become a diluted memory, unless the experience itself is documented in image or film, in which case it will last forever (or until it is deleted/destroyed...). 'Exit Through The Gift Shop' is a brilliant examination of the underground street art culture, and a poignant look at man's obsession with a culture he is increasingly drawn into throughout his life.
Thierry Guetta (pronounced Te-ree), is a French immigrant living Los Angeles with his loving wife and children and a good honest job, but there is one object he will never leave the house without; his video camera. Guetta has been enticed into the everyday cinema verité movement of simply recording any, and everything that goes on in his life. From playing with his children, to his ultimate attraction of following other street artists around and documenting their work, Guetta loves to watch, document and admire from behind the lens. Guetta eventually earns the trust and respect of various artists around the globe including the elusive Banksy, his cousin Space Invader and Shepard Fairey, and provides the audience with an up close and personal view of a culture (or industry) which has been projected into the limelight over the past five years.
Narrated by Rhys Ifans, 'Exit' has been acknowledged as not having a registered director, instead it is a smoothly edited combination of Guetta's extensive and various filmed sequences from over the years (the film shows his EXTENSIVE physical collection of tapes from more than decade of film-making) and interviews with various leading figures in the industry. For example Banksy is interviewed at length over his involvement with Guetta and comes across as a very down-to-earth, humble and at times, incredibly funny person. While everybody, including Guetta, are extremely brazen and don't hold back when speaking about each other, their profession or how the street art culture has developed over time into a somewhat monopolistic environment (which can be viewed by the fact that the rich and famous turned out in droves for Banksy's first exhibition in the United States).
This isn't a film about 'graffiti' though, as some may simply see it as on the surface, aside from the exploration of a fast growing community it is also a deep, scary and heart-warming look at Thierry Guetta's life over a decade onwards as he constantly leaves behind his family and his job to follow various artists around the globe. Mentally unstable, or one of the greatest French minds of the last twenty years, nobody is quite sure what Thierry Guetta (also known as Mr Brainwash) is, but what everybody does acknowledge is that he is a man with a passion and while he may not follow the same ideology as everybody else, his heart is still in the right place. 'Exit Through The Gift Shop' is a fascinating documentary focusing on a rising culture that many people may not have much knowledge about, except for knowing the name of the elusive, and as I have mentioned, surprisingly hilarious Banksy.
The story of how an eccentric French shop-keeper and amateur film-maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner. The film contains footage of Banksy, Shephard Fairey, Invader and many of the world's most infamous graffiti artists at work.
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