Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA/United Kingdom, 2010. Paranoid Pictures. Produced by Jaimie D’Cruz. Music by Geoff Barrow. Film Editing by Tom Fulford, Chris King. Academy Awards 2010. Independent Spirit Awards 2010. National Society of Film Critics Awards 2010. Online Film Critics Awards 2010. Washington Film Critics Awards 2010.
The world of street art (graffiti has such a negative ring, doesn’t it?) is a demimonde all to itself, one that captured the fancy of obsessive enthusiast Thierry Guetta to the point that he decided to make a movie about it. Actually, it turns out that Guetta has been filming just about everything that has ever happened to him since childhood, amassing tens of thousands of hours of footage that was pored through in assembling this fascinating exploration of art, artists and the less than trustworthy manner in which the public separates the good from the bad. Guetta’s footage of a number of highly charismatic and talented spray painters is richly exploited before he finally gets himself in the way of Banksy, he of the camera-shy persona who lets his work speak for itself and avoids revealing himself to the public eye. When Banksy encourages Guetta to stop watching and start doing, the video artist puts his back into it and begins a career adorning buildings and fences with his own signature style (under the name Mr. Brainwash), then takes to canvas and creates scores of works in preparation for a gallery showing. A few quotes on a billboard and suddenly Mister Brainwash is an important new artist with an exhibit that people are lining up around the block to get into; the joke is on the viewing public, of course, and on all of us who mistake buzz for quality. Banksy is far too wry to spell his insult out, but this wonderful indulgence plays a terrific hoax on all involved and challenges the dividing line between the spectator and the spectated.