Exit Through The Gift Shop – Banksy

(Image: Exit Through The Gift Shop, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivative-Works (2.0) image from russelldarling’s photostream)

Finally got to check out this Banksy film. Except it wasn’t about him. Wasn’t even that much about street art in general. It’s mostly about this guy named Thierry Guetta a.k.a. Mr. Brainwash. Mr. Brainwash you see, is more famous than Banksy and his work sells for more than even Banksy’s does. He even had a huge street art show in LA called Life is Beautiful. Banksy used to be friends with Thierry, but not anymore. that was before Mr. Brainwash decided to become a famous artist! It’s so easy! Anyone can do it! Just take an iconic image and be ironic with it. Make sure it’s a little rough around the edges, uses lots of spray paint, is in yo’ face, and just has that “street art” style to it.

Now, doesn’t that sound ridiculous? Maybe… …Banksy is just tired of all these real life street-art wannabee’s, it’s so easy to pick up a spray can and mindlessly deface property, and is showing us, through an intricate and elaborate set up, just how ridiculous the celebrity art world can be. Sure, maybe it’s easy to criticize, as he is cashing in, and plenty of people consider him a sell-out, but that doesn’t negate the fact that a lot of his work is actually quite good and a cut above much of what is out there. I definitely enjoy the often site-specific, always thought-provoking and with a distinct unmistakable style Banksy offerings.

As far as a review goes maybe Film just isn’t Banksy’s medium? Too much emphasis on the message and not enough un-fabricated not-mr.brainwash content. I really would have enjoyed more of “Thierry’s” raw footage, and maybe an intellectual delving into the forces driving street art and the artists behind it.


Duncan Jones’ Moon featuring Sam Rockwell, is quite the visual and intellectual treat delivered in a sci-fi and quite suspenseful package. Plus it has an amazing poster and it has the perfect soundtrack for the lonely, something is not quite right, remote landscape.

Netflix pegs my preferences as “Visually-striking” and “Mind-bending” and this film exemplifies both. Others have mentioned 2001 as having a lot of similarities and I would agree, if you didn’t like Kubrick’s Space Odyssey than you probably won’t appreciate moon either. There is even a seemingly menacing robot companion though this one is less homicidal.

The Beaches of Agnes

What a wonderful film. Agnes Varda is a master filmmaker and this autobiographical documentary seamlessly blends love, memory, death, and a menagerie of film-making notables, and even an animated orange cat into an amazing collage that beautifully reflects her life. She truly understands her medium and is therefore able to play with it, extend and manipulate it, and use it so very effectively to tell her story.

Manohla Dargis states in the nytimes, she is “perhaps the only filmmaker who has both won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and strolled around an art exhibition while costumed as a potato.” This playfulness and not taking herself so seriously is another thing I like about her. The film feels light and humorous, perfectly fitting as she describes herself, “a little old lady, pleasantly plump.”

Above all I always love experiencing the product of a master of their craft and this film is no exception.


Since I haven’t written about it before, I would also like to take a moment to recommend one of her other films:

The Gleaners and I

This is another amazing offering from this acclaimed filmmaker. A beautiful and poignant meditation on waste and refuse in our society and the people who reject ignoring it, instead they engage it directly either for economic or philosophical reasons.

The Limits of Control

The slow pace, the lingering visuals, the sparse dialogue, even the self-referential humor, I really enjoyed all of it. I knew where we were headed and I enjoyed the journey, even the title gave me food for thought. (Chalk one up for “imagination.”)

On occasion, it did glimmer with the feeling of the whole thing being an elaborate and filmic exercise in the art of stripping a story down to next to nothing, and occasionally parts felt almost trying too hard to be, maybe a little too constructed and falling into cliche. I chose to interpret these as little self aware inside jokes. As for the storytelling, absolutely minimal is where I like to be. And the cinematic visuals tip the scale for me, in favor of the directors skill.

If you’re a real movie buff or even a film afficionado, I can see why you dislike Jim Jarmusch’s offering. I however liked it a lot, probably in direct inverse proportion to the amount I dislike the types of items on a movie buff’s regular list.

A filmmaker, a queen and some dudes.

Broken Embraces

Not as good as I expected, but as I read somewhere, even on his worst day Almodovar is better than 90% of what’s out there. I don’t think you will ever be able to fully anticipate how an Almodovar film will unfold, he is such a great story maker. And it was nice to see Penelope Cruz in her element.

The Young Victoria

Better than expected. I only went to fulfill my husbandly duties, but I was pleasantly surprised. I learned a lot of history, and even though at heart this movie is a romantic love story of the most severe kind, I still enjoyed myself and it even made want to go see more historical dramas. Note: not a lot of violence in this one. If you’re into a lot of beheadings and accurate battle scenes, you should skip this one.

The Hangover

Kind of terrible. It fulfilled what I dread about movies, in that almost all of the funny scenes I had already seen while watching the 30 second preview. A smidge more highbrow fratboy humor with a tinge of hipster thrown in? I dunno, just skip it.

notes to self:

  1. Sadly the Hangover not even as bad as Four Christmases. I saw it? Don’t ask.
  2. Curious to see what that guy they now refer to in previews for other movies as “that guy from the hangover” comes up with next. (?) he was the movie’s only saving grace. (galifianakis)



For some reason I haven’t seen Michael Moore’s SiCKO until now. I’m sure Michael Moore did a lot of cherry picking to make his point more convincing and I wish he had offered a few more opponent’s counter arguments with requisite rebuttals. But even taking all of that into account this film offers a devastating account of the health care system in the United States. Just watching this documentary can make you feel sick.

It looks like Moore tried his hardest to rally the troops and make a grass roots rebellion happen, he cites people’s propensity to take to the streets in France as one of the main reasons things are pretty good there. Unfortunately, two years later very little has budged and forces continue to conspire against any kind of change on this front.
(The sheer number of lobbyists and amount of money that is on the table for things not to change, was probably one of the more eye opening and depressing aspects of the film.)

Things like the boat excursion to Cuba, while rooted in reality, are so outlandish and obviously contrived for arguments sake, that I think he is starting to stretch the term documentary a little thin. While he makes a very convincing argument using real footage, maybe documentary is not the best term for a Michael Moore film anymore.

Fantastic Mr. Fox


I’m not a Wes Anderson fanboy, but I really liked this movie. I think it was fantastic! It’s really a great film for adults and children alike, and I think I will take everyone’s advice and give it another go, apparently it’s the only way to catch all of the intricate details of the sets and action. (speaking of which I think this might be the only movie where a screen shot, as seen above, actually does the movie injustice. In a film still the little animals look terrible and lifeless, but when animated it’s hard to remember that they are even puppets.)

For some reason, I’ve never read the book version of Fantastic Mr. Fox, but I am a huge Roald Dahl fan. [The Twits is my fave.] I think that might be my only criticism, there was so much quirky Anderson-ness in it, which seems to match this animation style perfectly, that I felt like some of the Dahl-ness was lost. There were some moments that felt almost too real or gory for a children’s movie and even characters who smoked, perfect Roald Dahl, but somehow, the overall quirk, made it really feel like a Wes film. Not a bad thing though, I really enjoyed it and had few good laughs.

[if you have access to it, there was a fascinating article about this creative feat in the nov.2 new yorker. read the abstract here.]

Some Movies

The Men Who Stare at Goats

Can’t believe it’s based on a true story. Would love to know which parts actually a happened becasue the whole thing is pretty unbelievable.

The Brothers Bloom

More of a Children’s Fable but for adults. It had it’s moments, but I liked Brick better.

Good Hair

As all documentaries go, reality is fascinating, and I learned a lot. (might have been better as a multi-part series, though.)

Herb and Dorothy


I finally went to see this little film. What a charming documentary it is! You really get to know the famous Vogels from this film. You get to see a lot of new york, old new york. You get to see a lot of art and artist interviews. But mostly you get to see two people living it up in the art world, and being important and integral parts of it, despite living off of the salaries of a post office worker and a librarian.

I think this movie had the perfect blend of nyc, art, artists, eccentricity, and old people. Even though sometimes I get a little sad when I see really old people, these two are true new yorkers and nothing is gonna stop them!

I fully recommend this for art lovers or documentary fans. This one is really great on both counts.

more info: www.herbanddorothy.com

Public Enemies


wow. public enemies totally surprised me and exceeded my expectations. While not quite a film, this was truly a really really great movie with a very healthy dose of artistic flare. The camera work was amazing. The story really engaging, full of twists, suspense and an unexpected dose of love story. The director took his time setting up beautiful shots, and then wasn’t afraid to linger on them longer than usual allowing you to fully take in the 1930’s atmosphere. The clothes, the cars even the buildings all pulled you in to another time. Perhaps a little too much romance for most guys, but there were more than enough gangsters, tommy guns, and bullet holes riddling buildings, cars, and flesh to make up for it.