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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enter Through the Absurdity
In 1999, Thierry Guetta was a mild-mannered clothing store owner who had developed quite an obsession with filming everything in sight. He liked to do this in order to essentially validate his own existence. Transforming his life into film made him feel as if he existed, something he felt left out of as a child when he was not made aware of his mothers deadly illness...
Published on 1 Mar 2011 by VierasTalo

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars not about banksy
dull film about a rip off guy trying to do banksy stuff. Avoid if you can. Some good shots of his stuff however so still enlightening a little about art world.
Published 18 months ago by Amazon Customer


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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enter Through the Absurdity, 1 Mar 2011
In 1999, Thierry Guetta was a mild-mannered clothing store owner who had developed quite an obsession with filming everything in sight. He liked to do this in order to essentially validate his own existence. Transforming his life into film made him feel as if he existed, something he felt left out of as a child when he was not made aware of his mothers deadly illness until it took her life. That year marked a change in Thierry's life though. His cousin, under the pseudonym Invader, made and planted several 8-bit inspired mosaics made out of discarded Rubic's Cubes around town. One day Guetta joined him, and he never stopped filming again. For the last ten years, Guetta built up reputation amongst the street artists of the world. He was allowed to film them all at work because he claimed to be making a documentary.

The truth, however, was completely different. Guetta had hundreds upon hundreds of tapes, all tucked neatly away in giant boxes inside his garage. He never intended to make a documentary. He just wanted to feel like he was alive. Hanging out with a group of individuals who the society had labeled criminals for vandalism, running across rooftops at night and putting up posters was the best way for him to feel alive. I don't believe he would've even needed the camera any more. Guetta still had one dream though. He wanted to film the elusive street artist named Banksy in action. The two met and befriended each other, and eventually Banksy left Thierry to edit the documentary he had been telling everyone would blow their minds.

Six months later he had finished the documentary. Thierry describes his film making method to be almost like a lottery. He randomly picked out tapes from the boxes without knowing what was on them, and edited them all into an insane avant-garde epileptic seizure named Life Remote Control: The Movie. After seeing it, Banksy asked Thierry if he could get the tapes for himself so he could edit something together. Thierry agreed, and almost as a sidenote Banksy suggested Guetta should make some art of his own. And boy, he did. He sold off everything he owned in order to employ a crack team of Photoshoppers who he commanded to throw random colors and ink blots on top of known photos and art. He built massive hype around his art show, made a million dollars with unique pieces that he made spray painting prints with no purpose or artistic intentions. Then Banksy made this film, depicting everything that had happened.

Much speculation has been presented over whether or not this movie is a "hoax." Is it fake or real? I argue it doesn't matter. Exit Through the Gift Shop is a satire, regardless of whether or not the events were set up. It defies the definitions of genre with it's very existence and I dare say we may never get another film that does it quite like this. This is why I described the basic events of the film to you. You can not point a finger at this film and call it a documentary to describe it. Labeling it as a single thing is counter-productive and false, as it is more than just one thing.

At the same time Exit Through the Gift Shop is a very light watch and an extremely deep one. You can watch it, enjoy it, laugh at Thierry's tragic mania, but at the same time you're forced to do more thinking than any film about post-modern art I've ever seen. As the film revolves around not only Thierry Guetta, but also street art, one might expect it to explain this style of art. It does not. By doing so you're simply shown images of these wonderful pieces people have plastered and painted on the walls of our cities for years, and left without a set base to think about these pieces on.

The film decisively intends not to explain a single thing about the art itself, which leaves you entirely on your own to think about what art is to you. It forces you to answer not just what you think art is, but it's meaning to you and especially whether or not you believe the relationship between the piece of art and it's maker has any stake in what you think of it. Even though simplistic, the art Guetta makes is viewed as fantastic by the people who visit his show, as they do not know he really doesn't know what he is doing, why he is doing it and how to do any of it. Should we condemn him for doing this, when really most of the other original and fantastic pieces of art seen previously in the film are nothing more than similar inside jokes of sort that only work in the way intended in the heads of their makers. Is Guetta's art somehow worse just because his methods of making it seem to almost acknowledge the ridicilousness of it all? There are even more questions the film raises, but these are all questions that each of us needs time to think about. The wonder of Exit Through the Gift Shop is that it is not just a hilarious character piece; it's also the most thought-provoking film I have seen all year and the wonder of it is that I don't believe there is a single grown-up out there who can't help but ask these questions when watching this movie. It forces you to ponder on your own relationship with art, and it does it in such a subtle and entertaining way that only afterwards you truly understand that you have indeed been duped into growing as a human being through these questions. What new film has come out in the recent years that have truly not only touched you but helped and almost forced you become more as a member of the human race? Exactly.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The word "iconic", 13 July 2011
By 
Whether ETTGS is authentic or not is largely irrelevant. If it is, it's a great story. If it isn't, it's a work of near-genius. Either way, the same point is made: that for every clash there's an alarm. For every Motörhead there's a million t-shirts worn by folk who just like the design and don't give a trap about authenticness.

It's probably far too early to say whether Exit Through The Gift Shop [DVD] is going to end up being seen as a classic piece of documentary-making, and fair enough. I mean, who knew that This Is Spinal Tap [Single Disc Version] [DVD] would endure, and inspire decades after release? It was only a bit of fun after all. And of course still is.

ETTGS could do with more of a context though. You get some stuff about [Space] Invader, the French artist who put individual Space Invader mosaics on the walls of Paris and elsewhere (before or after Michael Diamond's X-Large knitted them onto jumpers? You tell me...) and Shepard Fairey, creator of the ubiquitous Obama 'Hope' poster. But where is the roughly contemporary Paul Insect? Or the orginator, the Model 500 of street art, Xavier Prou? The latter should have had a part in this long narrative for his Magic Juan ability to create something new, something that people on sofas on other planets in the rain would sit back and wonder: where did this power come from? In light years' time.

This film has nothing in it about whoever Banksy may be - the voice is disguised (in a quite annoying way, really) and the face is blanked (and there's no subtitle option on the DVD). If there's an authorial voice I've missed what it's saying here other than as slight sub-ironic metacommentary. But hey, I hired the film and it didn't have any promises spraypainted on the generic LoveFilm slipcase.

For the record, I know nothing about art.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Thierry wasn't actually a film maker ...just someone with mental problems who happened to have a camera", 17 Feb 2011
By 
@GeekZilla9000 "I am completely operational a... (Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
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Thierry has an obsession - he takes his camcorder with him everywhere. He captures every moment of his waking life on videotape. It's something his family have got used to and a hobby which took him on an adventure when he visited his cousin who turned out to be a street artist. Thierry followed his cousin 'Invader' as he applied his art (handmade mosaics of classic video game icons [such as Pacman ghosts and Space Invaders]). Thierry now had a focus for his filming, something specific he could capture.

After filming 'Invader' he found himself a welcome guest to the underground street art movement and filmed many prolific artists who were largely anonymous and overlooked except by those aware of their work. During this period street artists were becoming more and more influential as their work seeped into the mainstream. Thierry's role was to video the art being created and he said his aim was to use the footage as part of a documentary film about the artists and their work - Banksy himself says that "street art has a short lifespan, so it needed documenting", Thierry was there to assist the art to live beyond buildings and structures on which they existed. No documentary would be complete without Banksy though, but the secretive and most illustrious of street artists eluded any attempts to film him - until Thierry received a call asking him to work with the globally renowned enigma.

It's clear in this film that Thierry is in awe of Banksy, he likens him to Robin Hood and it's a great comparison - after all; Banksy is liberating art and ensuring that it isn't a folly of the rich, instead it is something which everyone can enjoy no matter what their background or politics. Watching Banksy in action, creating his stencils, is like watching a master at work and though his cultural significance is yet to be tested he is clearly a talented artist with a lot to say (and it's often said with a sense of humour).

The film has an interesting twist we know is coming - Thierry isn't creating a documentary film. Banksy realises that he's simply a mental guy with a camera when he asks to see the film. The thousands of hours of video material lives amongst hundreds of unorganised video tapes. Banksy then takes the camera to create the film we're watching and in brilliant a fate of role reversal Thierry becomes a street artist himself, "Mr. Brain Wash" is born and he sets out to carve his own name in the world of street art.

This is effectively a dual documentary; it's a documentary about the rise of street art and it's also a documentary about Thierry, he's an interesting character and the film explores the psychology behind his obsession. We come to understand the events of his childhood which led to him always carrying a camera and filming every minute of his life. His videos aren't part of a grand plan - they aren't edited and they certainly aren't organised.

The film builds Thierry as a idiosyncratic hero and then exposes him without demonising him. You are left to make up your own mind about Thierry and his validity as a street artist. This is at times a pretty funny film - and some of that is pure slapstick (you can't beat watching someone fall off a ladder).

There is one ting you find yourself asking though. Is this a hoax? Is the film simply a folly from the mind of Banksy? Who cares? If it is then I'm happy to have been a part of it by viewing it, regardless of how genuine the events are it still manages to show street art and some of the people behind it. It exposes a rich, intelligent and beautiful range of pieces, many of which are incredibly profound and could be the subject of a film themselves. For example Elvis holding a gun instead of a guitar is a statement, but when that gun is a Fisher Price kids toy then it adds another level of meaning.

The film mainly contains footage from Thierry's handheld camcorder and so isn't the sort of image which benefits much from high definition, but that simply makes the other footage jump out and the photographs of artwork are vibrant and detailed when they appear. Bonus features on this disk include a shortened version of Thierry's original attempt at editing together a documentary - probably not something you'll watch for long as it's an assault on both eyes and ears! There's also a great short film "B-Movie" about the art of Banksy.

In a nutshell: A quirky and compelling story of an obsessed man who gets found out only to then become an artist bigger than most of those he filmed. This manages to portray the street art underworld without being sycophantic and it doesn't exist as a vehicle to worship Banksy, in places it's often critical. For anyone unfamiliar with street art Exit Through the Gift Shop brings to the screen brilliant examples of urban art which go beyond 'simple' graffiti. Many people look down on street art and dismiss it as antisocial or ugly, but much of it is unpretentious, beautiful and has something to say. It's also the most democratic form of art as we can all see it for free!

Does it matter if the story is real or not? Part of the fun is trying to decide. Star Wars didn't actually happen but it's generally regarded to be a good yarn!
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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!, 28 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Exit Through The Gift Shop - Limited edition [DVD] (DVD)
I saw this last week in the cinema and am now buying the DVD. This is one of the funniest and engrossing films I have seen in a long time! Most of the cinema laughed throughout. If you are looking to learn about Banksy, there is only an introduction to his work. If you think the documentary is about him, its not. I know very little about Banksy's work, and nothing about the man himself and after watching this documentary not much has changed, although I have since bought a couple of books on the mans work.

However, Banksy has turned the art world on its head and here he does the same, he turns the camera on the film maker rather than himself. This documentary mainly covers the history of street art in LA, much of the footage filmed by Thierry Guetta over ten years, Banksy then turns the camera on Guetta as he tries to follow in the artists footsteps, creating his own stensils, spraying LA and ultimately staging his own massive exhibition, which celebrities flock to and start buying up pieces before the show opens. Banksy's work draws us into pondering deeper issues using unusual images, this documentary uses Guetta, an extremely likable and unintentionally funny Frenchman to draw us into questioning how the art word works and 'what is art?' Is Guettas art ridiculous? Why the media fanfare? Is the joke on Guetta or is the joke on us?

This is quite a smart documentary, don't expect Banksy (although he is present), expect 'a' Banksy.
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique and entertaining, 23 Aug 2010
This review is from: Exit Through The Gift Shop - Limited edition [DVD] (DVD)
Exit Through the Gift Shop is not your typical art documentary. Although Banksy had originally intended it to be a pretty standard biographical art doc utilising original footage shot by Mr. Brain Wash, he ultimately orchestrated it to shift focus from the subject (himself) to the filmmaker (Mr. Brain Wash) and the other artists whose work had been filmed. What could have been a Banksy vanity piece has been turned completely on its head (big props to the man for keeping his ego in check and creating a film that is essentially its own work of art). Entertaining, insightful, sad and funny (and sometimes downright hilarious in the absurdity of Mr. Brain Wash's vision and antics).

I notice that most of the negative reviews seem to focus on Banksy and his work, and not the film itself. I reckon they were written by Banksy haters that didn't actually see the film. Strange that they would even bother reviewing, but that seems to be quite common on these boards.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You got me!, 18 Aug 2011
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I had no idea what to expect of this film. I knew nothing about it. I've seen some of Banksy's work and I really liked it, but I'm a casual observer and certainly no expert. This film was a revelation for me. I watched as the story unfolded and gasped at bits and laughed at others. I was fully immersed and only started to question towards the end that perhaps I'd interpreted things too literally. There may have been clues or indications, massive great ones in fact, but if truth be told, I was having too much fun laughing. I still can't quite believe what I've seen. Did it all really happen like that? I love it all the more for this reason. I've possibly been entertained more than educated, but hey, what difference does that make.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, 17 Aug 2010
This review is from: Exit Through The Gift Shop - Limited edition [DVD] (DVD)
A friend badgered me to accompany her to see this film and I'm really happy she did. Though I was familiar with Banksy's work I had never really researched him and had never understood the Banksy hype. I now completely get it. The film is amazing, playing with the audience just like the art work Banksy produces does. This is a definate must see as it delves into an icon of our generation. Definately want to add it to my collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exit through the gift shop - Is it art?, 2 Aug 2012
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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Exit through the gift shop is a fun film that takes a serious (or as serious as guerrilla artist Banksy ever gets) look at just what is art?

The film might be a documentary, or a mockumentary work of art from the big man himself. It's hard to tell. What I can say is that it is a fun and fascinating piece that will amke you smile and think.

It follows Thierry Guetta, a somewhat bizarre individual who almost has to be made up as surely no-one that oddball can get through life, as he decides to try to befriend the enigmatic and famously anonymous street artist Banksy and make a documentary about him. Banksy persuades him that he too can be an artist, and in the guise of Mr. Brainwash he goes about staging a massive exhibition of his own work, managing to drum up a huge amount of pieces and interest in a remarkably short space of time, making quite some comment about the superficiality of some art, and of the people who seem to admire it.

If it's really a documentary then it is a real eye opener. If it's a mockumentary then it's a damned good one and a film well worth watching.

Leaving the blurred line between reality and art aside, this is as entertaining slice of film, shot through with Banksy's trademark satire and cynicism. It's a great deal of fun, and worth 5 stars. The comment around just what is art is a welcome added bonus.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting., 6 Feb 2012
An interesting look into Street Art, promoting the motivations and the thrills behind it, and dare I say it, the absurdities of it too. It looks at a form of art, and shows, through the role of the amateur film maker, how it can be manipulated and used as a form of business.

Really the film is split into two parts. Part 1 focuses on the main character as he follows street artists, while they do their thing. This was the most interesting part for me. From my perspective, I found meeting the artists, through the eyes of the film maker, really interesting. I also really enjoyed being exposed to art, which really only has a very short lifespan.

Also, the film maker is a reason to watch the film. his inconsistencies, passion and erratic nature make him a car crash waiting to happen from the beginning. This all comes to ahead in part 2.

Part 2 involves Banksy turning the narration on the lead character. Part two follows the main character and reveals how he flits between roles and ultimately annoys a lot of artists he previously followed around, to follow his own, slightly crazy, passion.

A great film. I highly recommend it. Banksy finishes by telling the viewer, that he used to encourage everyone he met to do art. However, as a consequence of meeting the lead character, he doesn't do that too much anymore. This sums up the journey of the film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic documentary on what it is that makes art, 14 Nov 2011
By 
J. Morris "Josh" (London) - See all my reviews
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This film begins as an investigation into street art by obsessive cameraman Terry Guetta (Mister Brainwash) - as the documentary progresses it becomes clear that it's more about Terry than art - as Banksy says "he's just more interesting". What began to Terry as a subject to capture with his endless filming becomes an obsession in itself as he emulates the artists he is filming and in a way, becomes an amalgamation of their styles & ideas.

When he puts on his own gallery installation he is met by the art-world with open arms, selling a million dollars-worth of art at his first-show, a bemused Banksy ponders "I guess it makes you question what you call art". The documentary that - staged-or-not controversy aside - makes you consider the genesis of artistic genius. Highly recommended for an interesting documentary, whatever your stance on graffiti/street-art!!
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Exit Through The Gift Shop - Limited edition [DVD]
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