Exit Through the Gift Shop

Director: Banksy
Year Released: 2010
Rating: 2.0

British graffiti artist Banksy (who cares what his real name is) crafts this pseudo-documentary to (a.) more or less promote himself as the real deal (narrator Rhys Ifans pumps him up as a figure of legend) and (b.) take a poke at the "art industry," which "clearly" has no idea what actual talent is. The debate rages as to whether or not the proceedings are "real," although the framework is shaky: it starts as a portrait of shop-owner Thierry Guetta's videophilia and obsession with street art, moves to him making a flashy, unwatchable film on street art and then has Banksy himself "stealing" the footage and making this picture out of it. It becomes less plausible the longer it goes on, so when Guetta transforms himself into a street artist named "Mr. Brainwash" (har har) and those he filmed over the years (Shepard Fairey, Invader, Banksy himself) express disapproval with his hack-art, it becomes more clear that this is a meta-joke and Guetta has to be in on it (pointedly, Guetta pastes his own art over Fairey's in L.A.). Banksy, Fairey and Invader are clearly unique individuals and their work should be celebrated, but the high level of truth skewering and artifice is disappointing - Banksy may be a provocateur, but unlike Welles he isn't a film genius: Orson's brilliant F for Fake is the most subversive and thought-provoking kind of wink-wink playfulness.