Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Movie Review: Exit through the Gift Shop

I am a pretty susceptible person. I have an over-active empathy which allows me to see the validity of all sides and want to be a part of a lot of movements. When Matt and I watched "8 Mile" I wanted to battle rap. When I saw "The Parking Lot Movie" I wanted to work at a parking lot as an attendant. These things especially happen when I watch documentaries and see some sort of injustice or counter-cultural revolution going on.

Tonight, on a recommendation from Ryan Rayome (who has never steered me wrong), I watched "Exit Through the Gift Shop." First, let me say that this movie was fantastic. Second, let me say that I had no idea the direction it was going in the beginning. A total surprise for me, which could be my ignorance of the scene or just interesting film making. Third, I want to graffiti stuff now :).

The movie starts off introducing us to a frenchmen named Thierry. He lives in Los Angeles and is selling designer clothes. His one passion in life is filming. He filmed everything but that is as far as it went. He never made movies, just filmed.

One vacation, while visiting Paris, he was hanging out with his cousin who was a famous street artist who made tile graffiti of characters from Space Invader. He filmed him hanging these up all over town and it was awesome. Therry began following all kinds of famous street artist. He even meets up with Banksy, which before this movie I had never heard of. Anyways, he follows them all, telling them he is going to make a documentary.

Through some interesting turns involving a badly made movie and street art becoming high art and selling for tons of money, Therry is convinced to become a street artist. He refinances everything he owns, hires a huge team, changes his name to Mr. Brain Wash and opens a gallery. He seems to let it all go to his head while seemingly being genuine in his attempt to be apart of the counter-culture. The whole thing is a mess. I did NOT see it coming...

The journey is a blast. Should definitely see it. Streaming on Netflix right now. I want to go graffiti something right now... probably some Casino billboards. Run time is 86 minutes, it is rated R for language and it is "A Banksy Film." There is speculation that this whole movie was a hoax, or the Thierry Guetta was a hoax, pranking the art world for spending hundreds of thousands on art slapped together by some French videographer, but it seems that the majority of the people fall on the side of it all being real. Loved this review.

The part that makes it all the more interesting to me is that I knew this cool cat going the Sociology degree with me at Chico State. He was closer to 30 and somewhat of a professional student. He was a great guy with peculiar interest, folk wisdom and a love for street art. I asked him what kind of music he was in to. He told me, "non-religious reggae." An answer like that told me that this guy knew what he wanted. Now, I knew nothing of the counter-culture and everything I do know I just learned from this documentary. I tried probing this guy on some info, but he was pretty secretive accept about his latest tags. I asked him, realizing now how foolish it was, if he would put some work down on a canvas and I would buy it. He was really cool about it, but didn't want to do his art in that kind of way. He gave me a lot of grace in my ignorance, but know what I know now, it was a pretty foolish request. Anyways, great guy...

As a Christian it reminds me of how subversive Jesus' message really is. Jesus dealt with icons all the time. Even this Holy Week, we see Jesus in this light: riding into Jerusalem as a King or emperor would. Though we hold a high Christology now, this act was very much a counter-culteral move where Jesus proclaiming a better way. The way Jesus dies on a cross as a rebel through a revolutionaries death. The cross of the Roman World, reserved for the most despised of the empire, became the cultural icon for victory in the Kingdom come. The way the church hijacked empire rhetoric and used it for our own way of subversion. Instead of "Caesar is Lord" we demanded that "Jesus is Lord." We stole the word church (ekklesia) and used it for our functions where we proclaimed one King alone. Instead of the Pax Romana, we declared that there was one Prince of Peace, that there was no other name under heaven which one could be saved. The church is missing this element. We have made bed-fellows with the empire and it has been to our demise. Let us reclaim with all its original meaning that Jesus is Lord.

So, let's get the revolution started, I'll meet you at Kinkos.

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