Exit Through The Gift Shop – DVD review

As with everything Banksy turns his hand to, Exit Through The Gift Shop comes with a certain element of mystery. Not content with people constantly asking “who is Banksy?”, he has now given us a new question to ponder over; “who is Thierry Guetta?” And, even with this 90 minute documentary purporting to be about him, we’re still not quite sure.

An L.A. based graffiti fan and avid filmer, Thierry is desperate for a way into the street art world. The main problem is, he’s more of a concept man. Recording life because he is compelled, not because he knows how to make a film, his forays into art are equally aimless. Knowing what looks good, but having no idea of why, his works are shameless combinations of other artists’ work. Taking an image of Elvis, he throws in an AK-47. Looking to Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s soup cans, he updates them as tins of spray paint. It’s an instant hit. Soon his former filming subjects are having to deal with unleashing a master of kitsch on the world. As Banksy puts it; “Most artists spend years perfecting their style, but Thierry missed out on all those parts. There’s nobody quite like him… even if his art does look quite a lot like everyone else’s.”

Billed as “the world’s first street art disaster movie”, Exit Through The Gift Shop is a tease of a film. From the moment the logo for Paranoid Pictures shows itself – appearing exactly like Paramount’s famous mountain, but circled by bullet holes, instead of the expected stars – it is clear that nothing on this DVD should be taken as read. It’s perhaps not surprising then that although we see many of Guetta’s finished products, it’s rare that we see him contribute to the work process. Is this a comment on the assembly line nature of his art, or a cover for the fact that Thierry Guetta is nothing but a creation? Or possibly even both. Bansky certainly isn’t likely to tell us and, in the end, why should he bother? Exit Through The Gift Shop may be a film that deceives, but it is also one that consistently entertains – an intriguing look at the merit of artistic intent.


Exit Through The Gift Shop DVD Extras:

– More Brainwashing: Deleted Scenes
– Life Remote Control (Lawyer’s Edit) – a scaled down version of Thierry’s “unwatchable” street art film.
– A Star is Born (Thierry at Cans Festival)
– B-Movie: A Film About Bansky – A 13 minute documentary that claims to shed a little more truth on Banksy, yet still has its tongue stuck slightly in its cheek.

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