Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Week At The Movies--Inception vs. Exit Through The Gift Shop

Inception by Christopher Nolan
I can’t begin to express how much I disliked this movie. Unnecessarily confusing, incomprehensible, and ultimately boring. Two and a half hours of monotone acting. Every line uttered with an air of hushed-tone importance. 30-40 minutes of tedious explanatory sequences, meticulously detailing the rules of the dream world, all of which I couldn’t follow. The one rule I picked up, ‘If you die in the dream, you wake up,’ gets abandoned as soon as that rule hampers the plot. Oh well, I guess rules are made to be broken…if they become inconvenient. I felt pretty bad for all the poor souls on date nights, trying to make sense of this mess on the way out of the theater. If the writing, the direction, and the acting weren’t bad enough, I was pretty bothered by Leonardo DiCaprio’s mustache. I’ve seen 16 year olds with better upper lip coverage. And how come all the actors looked like they were in a neo-noir movie while Ellen Page looked like she was in a romantic comedy? Come on people. Yuck.

Exit Through The Gift Shop by Banksy
Just saw this last night and I’m still digesting it, but what an awesome movie. Exit Through The Gift Shop is a doc by street art hotshot Banksy detailing the street art scene from its roots in the 90s through its rise and acceptance by the fine art world in the 2000s. The movie is in parts fun, irreverent, insightful, and at the end of the day, perhaps a big hoax. The film follows the scene through the eyes of filmmaker Thierry Guetta, an affable Frenchman who tirelessly documents the likes of Banksy, Shepard Fairey (of Andre The Giant stickerdom fame), and other street art luminaries. Over the course of the film, we see Banksy and his cohorts move from quasi-legal artists playing cat and mouse with the fuzz while trying to avoid anti-graffiti laws, to highly sought after artists, selling their pieces for huge coin.

Over the course of the film Thierry moves from someone documenting the scene to someone who becomes a major artist (aka Mr. Brainwash) within the scene, much to the mystification of his peers. The film ultimately critiques the fine art world. Banksy seems to suggest that the curators snapping up street art at exorbitant prices don’t really understand the art, its value, and the quality of what they’re bidding on.

The success of the highly derivative Mr. Brainwash is at the core of this critique. But is Mr. Brainwash even real? He could be real. He could be a fabrication for viewers of the film. He could be an elaborate hoax played on the Los Angeles art world. I couldn’t figure it out, but regardless, it's brilliant.

Best film I saw this week!