This afternoon, a friend was complaining there's nothing worth seeing at the movies. All I could think is that I don't know how I'm going to make time for all the things I want to see. First off, there's the local premiere of a documentary that's attracting no small amount of controversy: the prankish street-art tale Exit Through the Gift Shop, which has a number of people convinced it's an elaborate hoax.
Mike D'Angelo's rave in this week's Scene sets it up:
One of the glories of the art-world quasi-documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, which purports to be a film first about and then by the renowned anonymous street artist known only as Banksy, is the convoluted mess that inevitably results when one merely attempts to describe it. In what you might call phase one — or, to borrow terminology from a recent movie about magic tricks, "the pledge" — we're shown a great deal of highly engaging video footage depicting various guerrilla artists (Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Space Invader) at work, all of which was shot by an eccentric French expat in L.A. by the name of Thierry Guetta.
Phase two (or "the turn") finds Banksy, frustrated by Guetta's inability to fashion his thousands of hours of obsessive documentation into a compelling primer, deciding to bogart the project and make his own version of the movie. Patting Guetta on the head, Banksy suggests that he try making some street art of his own, just to get rid of him. But Guetta has the last laugh, as phase three ("the prestige") sees him reinvent himself as Mr. Brainwash, whose first solo exhibition — a pathetic hodgepodge of half-digested ideas blatantly pilfered from the artists he'd spent the previous decade following around with his camera — becomes a critical and commercial smash, landing this genial poseur on the cover of L.A. Weekly and racking up millions of dollars in sales.
Playing alongside it at The Belcourt this weekend is another of the year's most acclaimed films, German director Maren Ade's award-winning drama Everyone Else:
Here's an excerpt from D'Angelo's excellent review in this week's Scene:
So razor-sharp in its depiction of a troubled relationship that you'll want to bring tissues to mop up the blood, Everyone Else, which won the Silver Bear (second prize) and the Best Actress award at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival, recognizes discomfiting truths about the nature of romance that few other movies seem inclined to even acknowledge, much less explore. The film's unusual prickliness is evident from its very first scene, in which 30-ish record-label exec Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr) prods her niece, with equal parts playful affection and bizarre spite, into explaining what the little girl hates about auntie. As it turns out, that cruel-to-be-kind ethos has been carried over from her long-term affair with Chris (Lars Eidinger), an architect with more principle than ambition.
The couple are spending their summer at Chris' parents' villa in Sardinia, an island off the Italian Peninsula. As is often the case when lovers travel to gorgeously sunny climes in art movies, their inhibitions join most of their clothes in a pile on the floor, leaving both parties at their most vicious and their most vulnerable. But it's rare to see a film of this sort embrace so many contradictory yet recognizable aspects of the mating dance, particularly as it applies to a certain breed of highly self-conscious young adults. I know people who could barely finish watching Everyone Else. It hit too close to home.