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Teen Review: ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’

Street Art Doc Rocks

Credit: PDA

Above: Street artist Banksy... or is it? "Exit Through the Gift Shop."

Although "Exit Through the Gift Shop" has been out for quite some time, not many people have heard about it. So I feel I should enlighten you in the hopes you will go to the MCASD La Jolla's screening this Thursday November 18.

I was so interested in seeing this film that I drove up to L.A. with a friend to see it. I was not disappointed. "Exit Through the Gift Shop" is a one of a kind documentary that deals with an underground world of street art and artists. It also lets us observe the epic transformation of an Italian man from moron to a brainwashing street art icon.

Credit: PDA

Thierry Guetta in "Exit Through the Gift Shop."

Thierry Guetta is your typical foreign guy in the United States. He's trying to make a living by opening up his own shop. But there's something different about Thierry. He carries a camera wherever he goes. This comes in handy when he discovers that his cousin is part of an underground street art movement. The cousin goes by the name of “Space Invader” and allows Thierry to film him placing his art work around the city. After a while, Thierry manages to tape thousands of hours of several different street artists working on various projects. He wants to make a documentary, but he feels his work is missing something, or someone. Banksy!

Banksy is one of the most infamous street artists around and he has somehow managed to stay hidden from the eyes of the public for a very long time. Thierry goes on a quest to find Banksy’s whereabouts but no one seems to know where he is. Those who do won’t speak up. After a while, Banksy gets a hold of Thierry and encourages him to finish his documentary and do his own art.

What I found most intriguing about the film was that this type of environment had never been recorded so extensively (mostly because what these artists do is considered vandalism… and illegal). So why risk being caught red-handed with incriminating evidence? The answer may be that the whole film is a prank, a cinematic version of Banksy's street art.

Credit: PDA

An example of Banksy's art in "Exit Through the Gift Shop."

Obviously what people like Banksy do is amazing. Some people even consider guys like him to be right up there with Picasso and Van Gogh. Whether this film is a documentary or nothing but a prank, there is still an clear message: what these guys do is from the heart and not for the money. Their art work has a short lifespan because as soon as it’s discovered it is taken down. So those who wants a piece of the action tend to pay a high price for it. But the growing popularity of this rebel art is causing their original purpose to get lost in all the mainstream attention. This documentary helps to give a little insight into what the original intentions of these artists were.

"Exit Through the Gift Shop" (rated R for some language) is lots of fun to watch and you can’t help but laugh at and feel sorry for Thierry. If you know anything about Banksy and his artwork you will definitely love this film. And if you despise what these people do, I encourage you to watch this film to see their side of the story.

You can read Beth Accomando's review here.

--Jesus Gomez recently graduated from Mount Miguel High School and he would like to pursue a career and a writer or film critic.

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