EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP

Artists struggle, toil and sweat for years before they are acknowledged. Some never become famous or appreciated. Some don't achieve notoriety until after they are dead. Whatever the outcome, most artist struggle for years. That is unless the artist is Thierry Guetta. He is married. He owns a used clothing store in L.A. And he's never without his video camera. For years he films everything and everyone he encounters. But his life changes for the first time when he goes with his cousin to film street art (the law calls it graffiti). Thierry then spends years taping underground artists plying their trade. One is Shepard Fairey (famous for his “Hope” painting of candidate Barack Obama). But his holy grail is Banksy, a British street artist who lives in complete anonymity. All this taping is supposed to end with a documentary. It does. But, this isn't it. EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP is Guetta's search for Banksy, then it's his search for his own artistic voice. And that's what ultimately pisses off Fairey and Banksy. Thierry seems to be an artist created by buzz, rather than sweat. And that process of discovery is at times very funny and at other times infuriating and head shaking. I found myself asking, “doesn't he get it?”, more than once during this very entertaining 90 minutes documentary. And in the end, I'm not sure Thierry does. — Alan Yudman

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