Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Exit Through the Gift Shop - Movie Review

I rarely spend more than about $10 on additions to my DVD collection, but when I happened upon this Banksy film while perusing the movie section of BestBuy, I quickly plunked down the $25 that it cost.  My high school students have always been fascinated by the illusive street artist Banksy, and the risk taking associated with his particular art form.  I like him because he is such an excellent example of the power of art as a means of communicating complex ideas and personal/political/cultural statements. 

This movie is rated R.  It has a documentary format and the "F word" pops up sporadically.  I would have no problem showing this movie to an upper level high school art class after sending home parental permission forms.  The best advice I can give here is to know your principle well and run it by him or her before showing it in any class.  That said, it is a very watchable and fascinating film.  Though Banksy is ultimately responsible for the existence of the film in its final version, the documentary is not about Banksey and his work per-se.  Instead, it is about a French film/video photographer who becomes obsessive about documenting street artists at work and ultimately becomes a participating street/pop artist himself.  Banksy and well known American street artist Shepard Fairey play pivotal roles in the development of the storyline. The film addresses the bizarre conditions at play when street art becomes commercially valuable.  It questions the nature of art, artists, and the art market.  It can lead to some solid reality based questions for your students to consider.  What is it that we value about art?  What is illegal about graffiti? What makes something "good art" or "bad art?"  How important is originality in making art?  Can someone become an artist overnight? How does marketing impact the value of art?

Speaking of marketing, the DVD comes packed with a few fun extras: the star-shaped paper glasses that you see in the photo above, a couple of grafitti art postcards, and a couple of grafitti art stickers are included.

I really enjoyed this film and give it a solid A.

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