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Ghost Canyon

'Exit Through the Gift Shop'
(Banksy, Thierry Guetta, Shepard Fairey, Rhys Ifans (narrator), et al / DVD / PG-13 / 2010 / Oscilloscope Laboratories)

Overview: EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP is the inside story of street art - a chaotic brew of illegal self-expression that exploded into a global phenomenon - and what happens when an eccentric shopkeeper-turned-amateur-filmmaker named Thierry Guetta sets out to produce the ultimate documentary on the art form. After spending five years recording many of the world’s most infamous vandals at work, he met Banksy, a camera shy British stencil artist who felt Guetta himself would make a more fitting subject for a documentary.

DVD Verdict: This is a nifty documentary about an immigrant Frenchman with an obsession for video taping nearly every waking hour of his life. He happens across the "street art" thing and now must find these artists and document them and their work. He even manages to spend an enormous amount of time with the king of all street artists, Banksy, as he goes on his night time excursions to place as much art on buildings as possible. He then takes the next leap and becomes an obscenely prolific and popular artist himself.

Living just outside of Chicago, I have seen some really cool building art. Some of it has been every bit as imaginative as its attention grabbing counterparts hanging in pop art galleries, but much of what is shown in this film makes much of what I've seen pale by comparison.

The Frenchman, Thierry Guetta, is a real character. Even with his broken English, he has a way of expressing himself that grabbed my attention. As a successful retailer, he had the means to support his video taping habit which, even he admits, is like a drug. That he finds the subject, street art, that allows him to focus his attention is something everyone gains from.

I simply never thought much about street artists and this was a real eye-opener. Many of them are sincere about their format(s) and they are doing a lot to push the envelope. There is a lot of cool and clever artwork shown in this film. Any number of these pieces I would love to have framed and hanging in my home. The act of selling the artwork is what fuels the final act of this documentary.

As Terry shifts from documenter to artist, and produces an expensive, lavish showing of his own work, it brings into question the entire philosophy of street arts and artists. Is Terry any good and should he be doing this? The argument is that he turns the whole idea about street art around and puts it back into a purely commercial pop business. Not where the artists feel it should be. This is an interesting and informative look at this amazing and unusual segment of the art world. It might not be for everyone, but if you're a fan of the arts, this is well worth seeing. [ES] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

• B Movie - An exclusive film about the ‘art’ of Banksy
• Life Remote Control (Lawyer’s Edit) - The movie that started it all’ released for the first time
• Deleted Scenes
• Limited edition inserts designed by Banksy