Movie Reviews: Exit Through the Gift Shop and Restrepo



Movie – Exit Through the Gift Shop

Director: Banksy

Starring: Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Thierry Guetta, Space Invader and Rhys Ifans

Theater – Bennett’s Union Street Theater – Boone, Iowa

Companion – Flying Solo

Food – I had dinner with Nader at Mongolian Buffet.

Intellectual Honesty & Baggage

Sometimes I feel that I’m the only person I know that LOVES documentaries. One of my all-time favorite movies is Born into Brothels and I can barely get anybody else to touch the DVD case, let alone actually watch it. Usually when I try to suggest watching a documentary to somebody else, they act like I asked them to sit through 90 minutes of riding the lightning.

For the most part I’ve given up on trying to get anybody else to watch a documentary with me. I say “for the most part” because I’m not a quitter. I just don’t get why most people hate documentaries. The world is just an extremely fascinating place, I don’t know why people don’t want to learn more about it.

I know most documentaries tend to make people angry or sad, (besides the sickest bastards in the world, who wants to watch the Japanese chop up a bunch of dolphins) but they are also so enlightening. If they are done properly.

True the most famous documentaries are usually thinly veiled propaganda, but even the works of Michael Moore are educational if you are intelligent enough to be able to sift the gold from the muck.

Synopsis from IMDB

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, Shepard Fairey, Invader and many of the world’s most infamous graffiti artists at work.

Review

I admittedly live in very small town Iowa. My exposure to street art is very limited, but even I am familiar with and appreciate the work of Banksy. I am familiar with Shepard Fairey because he created the single most iconic image of the last at least 20 years: The Obama Hope Poster. But I knew nothing of any of the other street artists in the movie.

However, the movie does a very good job of introducing the viewer to the world of street art, before it really starts to focus on its subject Thierry Guetta.

Guetta follows around many of the most preeminent street artists in the world filming them under the pretense that he is making a documentary, but it seems that he doesn’t really have any intention of making a movie. He just films everything that he does.

Eventually he ends up in Banksy’s fold. Eventually Banksy pushes him to make his movie, but when Banksy see the finished project he realizes it is a complete disaster. He sends Guetta home to work on his art and remakes the movie himself.

What Guetta does when he gets home is a little mindblowing, but not in a good way.

I’ll give you this much of a clue. A long time ago Jill loaned me the movie Factory Girl. Factory Girl follows the story of Edie Segwick, a socialite that falls into Andy Warhol’s flock. Edie’s father is a complete piece of garbage that sexually molested Edie when she was young and dumped her into a mental institution when she walked in on him having an affair with their neighbor.

However, during one scene in the movie he is having dinner with Edie and Warhol and says the most spot on thing to Warhol:

“You’re really more of a print-maker than an artist, aren’t you?”

That is what I would say to Guetta if I ever met him.

This is a very well crafted movie and follows some very fascinating people. The end of the movie is actually a brilliant statement on our culture’s ability to buy into hype over talent. Although I’m sure there are some that would call me an elitist for thinking that way.

If I could get somebody else to watch a documentary out there, I would highly recommend this flick. It is on Netflix and is available on DVD.

Rating
4.0/5.0 Caramels

Buy on DVD
Probably not. I have it on Netflix, so I can watch it any time I want.

2010 Ranking
Number 10. It knocks True Grit out of the Top Ten.

Bonus Information
Since both Ames and Des Moines have decided to not bring any new movies worth seeing to their collective theaters, I just had dinner with Nader on Tuesday night and went home and decided to start getting caught up on my Oscar nominated Documentaries.



Movie – Restrepo

Directors: Tim Hetherington & Sebastian Junger

Theater – Bennett’s Union Street Theater – Boone, Iowa

Companion – Flying Solo

Food – I had supper at my Mom’s with Alexis, Johnathan and Jason before I watched this movie. She made Salisbury Steak and mashed potatoes and gravy. It was awesome!

Intellectual Honesty
I am a fan of Sebastian Junger’s writings. I was very legitimately excited about seeing this movie as soon as I heard about it.

Baggage
I’m not a big military guy. I understand the reason for the military’s existence, but I don’t get all excited when talking about the military like many of the men I know do.

Synopsis from IMDB
Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington’s year dug in with the Second Platoon in one of Afghanistan’s most strategically crucial valleys reveals extraordinary insight into the surreal combination of back breaking labor, deadly firefights, and camaraderie as the soldiers painfully push back the Taliban.

Review
One of the reasons I was excited to see this movie is that it is supposed to be a very neutral portrayal of the war in Afghanistan. I had read an interview by the filmmakers about how both sides of the political spectrum had attacked this movie for being too pro-war or too anti-war.

If both sides were attacking the movie, I figured it must be fair and balanced. I mean legitimately fair and balanced, not like how FoxNews is fair and balanced, using the words like some kind of extremely ironic tagline that they themselves are privately surprised that they have the balls to use in public.

I come from more of the war is “old-men-talking-and-young-men-dying” frame of mind rather than the “war!-what-is-it-good-for?-absolutely-nothing-except-ending-slavery-and-stopping-Hitler” frame of mind.

Because of that, when I watched this movie, I saw more of the anti-war side of the story. Even though, this isn’t what the movie is trying to do. It just covers one platoon for one year and shows the facts. But in my mind, it is rather clear that the facts are that war sucks!

When I turned the movie off, I could only feel bad for these young men that they had to be put through this because of our glaring foreign relation mistakes since… probably since the end of WWII.

It is an interesting movie and it is graphic in its depiction of war, so there are definitely scenes that aren’t for the faint of heart. But I would highly recommend it because it is a view of the war you won’t see on any news network.

It doesn’t preach one side or the other. Which is very refreshing.

I would probably rate it higher, but there are moments where the movie drags on a little bit.

Rating
3.5/5.0 Caramels

Buy on DVD
No need, I can watch it on Netflix anytime I want. Although I might buy the corresponding book.

2010 Ranking
I would put it just outside of my Top Ten.

Bonus Information
Looks like Ames is bringing in only a steaming pile of poo for movies again this week: Just Go With It, Just Beiber: Never Say Never and Gnomeo and Juliet, I would have to be paid and paid well to endure any of those movies. Looks like I’ll be watching more documentaries next Tuesday as well.

3 thoughts on “Movie Reviews: Exit Through the Gift Shop and Restrepo”

  1. Actually, I may end up checking out the documentry on Banksy. I didn’t realize that netflix had it. Did it mention the Underbelly project at all? There is an interesting blog that I check in on occasionally http://blog.vandalog.com/ that is all about street art. Because of this I quite often find myself watching the train cars roll through town in hopes that I might spy a Labrona portrait for a brief second.

  2. Nope the only Banksy projects this movie really covers are his wall paintings in Israel and his show in LA when he painted an elephant. There is a little bit more, but nothing that mentioned an Underbelly project.

    I’ll have to check out that blog.

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