Exit Through the Gift Shop

Missing in the Mansion Hatbox Ghost

Films have been shot at Disney theme parks since before Disneyland even opened in 1955. The year before, Walt Disney personally offered a sneak peek of what was to come in the pilot episode of Disneyland. And specials made for TV and souvenir videos continued from there, whether it was to show the attraction on its opening day or offer virtual tours of the park or introduce new additions or to celebrate some anniversary or another. The same goes for Walt Disney World following its opening 16 years later. Once in a while, though, something makes its way out of the parks that’s not made by Disney. Even then, it might be with permission, as in the 1962 Universal release 40 Pounds of Trouble, which features an extensive chase sequence through Disneyland (watch Tony Curtis and some Keystone-esque cops run around Main Street here). And the Matterhorn scene in That Thing You Do (directed by the guy who would later portray Disney). But there’s also Randy Moore’s Escape From Tomorrow, a movie that shocked audiences at Sundance this year with its unauthorized guerrilla shoot at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Escape is hardly the first movie to get away with secretly capturing material on location at Disneyland, however. And now that it’s out in theaters and on VOD, this is a good time to highlight three such clandestine pieces of cinema.

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californiaskate

The main difference between Exit Through the Gift Shop and This Ain’t California is that the latter’s main character has been revealed to be a fiction. Other distinctions are that it’s about skateboarding rather than street art, that it’s set in 1980s East Germany instead of 2000s L.A. and that it has an energy and spirit that’s far more captivating than Banksy’s Oscar-nominated documentary. Otherwise they share a quality where the “realness” of the story is totally inconsequential given that, true or false, it’s still the same movie and says the same things and makes us feel the same way about its subject matter. I have to admit right away that I “fell for” the whole thing. That’s what happens when you avoid reading about a movie before you see it, I guess. All I knew was that it won a special award at Berlin last year and that it was a documentary about German skate culture. And I fell for it, too, meaning I fell in love with it. I found it to be electrifying, which can’t be ignored now that I know a lot of it is “fake.” Of course, fake isn’t a good word for the film, because co-writer/director Marten Persiel hasn’t necessarily pretended that every person in the film existed or that all the Super-8mm footage is as old as it seems.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news round-up that finds the darndest things. Like Sacha Baron Cohen’s beard, creepy Musketeer posters, Mark Wahlberg, Simon Pegg, Paul Walker and a way to make your tweets into epic cinematic adventures. You need this and you know it. We begin tonight with Sacha Baron Cohen looking crazytown as The Dictator, his latest mockumentary prank film. Only this time, it’s got a more concise narrative. Cohen will play the dual roles of a ruthless dictator who heads to the U.S. for a meeting at the United Nations and finds that his number two has replaced him with an unsuspecting sheepherder lookalike. The big guy has sort of a Cosmo Kramer meets Mr. T vibe going on, with all the frills of the late Saddam Hussein. That feeling deep in your loins is unbridled excitement. That’s a good thing.

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While we may not see a non-fiction film nominated for Best Picture anytime soon, the Best Documentary Feature has for many risen from a minor category rarely given its due attention to a battleground for some of the most important movies in a given year. 2010 was no exception, and in this year and in this category there are an impressive collection of docs addressing a variety of subjects in unique ways that truly exemplify the personalities of the filmmakers behind them. If no other year has convinced you the documentary is a great art form, this one should. But perhaps more significantly, this year exhibits such a variety of films that it throws the simplistic notion that a documentary should occupy one single mode of address out the window: here we have ambitious and stylish massive doc about a very complex subject, an intimate biographical advocacy piece, some on-the-ground investigative journalism, some trash art, and that film everyone’s been talking about all year that puts the entire notion of artistic truth into question. Only one of these films will take home the gold at the end of the night, but I’ll be damned if they’re not all impressive pieces of non-fiction filmmaking. And the nominees (with my prediction in red) are…

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There has been much hullabaloo over speculation as to what will happen if the Banksy directed doc Exit Through the Gift Shop ends up winning the Academy Award for Best Documentary. Banksy is a popular street artist who maintains a lot of his mystique through hiding his identity. He narrated Gift Shop shrouded in a hood and with voice modulation. Whenever pictures are shown of him, he is usually wearing a ridiculous monkey mask. Most likely, if Banksy were ever to be unmasked, we would all be faced with the stunning realization that he is… some guy. That’s why it’s very important that he maintains his secrecy. Mystery equals intrigue; intrigue equals people shelling out boatloads of cash for his work. The Academy has been around show business for quite some time. They understand what Banksy is doing here. And yet, up until this point, they have made it clear that showing up to the Oscars wearing a monkey mask would be completely unacceptable. Academy president Tom Sherak reportedly told Banksy’s representatives, “We suggested to them that it might be a good idea that if he did win, one of them would accept in his place – that it would not be dignified for the Academy to have somebody come up wearing a monkey’s head.”

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as THEFANFROMLONDON and DinoDNA007 in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the two tackle the fact that no documentary has ever been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Why all the hate, AMPAS? Sure, it has its own category, but that doesn’t deny it entry into the big game. Is there an internal bias against non-fiction? Should Jackass 3 been facing off against The Social Network? Will we see a documentary nominated for Best Picture in our lifetime?

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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At the end of the 90s, famous Oscar show writer and Celebrity Fit Club contestant Bruce Vilanch claimed that, “Generally with the Oscars…there isn’t much you can do until the nominations are announced. Then you know what kind of year you’re dealing with – what’s been overlooked, what the issues are.” He was talking about preparing to write the show, but it applies to everyone from the directors, producers and stars on down to the fans. It’s fun to guess around the water cooler (your office still has a water cooler?), but until now, it’s all been speculation. Thankfully, almost all that speculation has been spot on, so we can all continue our conversations about whether Black Swan will beat The Social Network for Best Picture. Whether Natalie Portman has any true competition for Best Actress. Whether, most importantly of all, Colleen Atwood will beat Mary Zophres for Best Costume Design. Here they are. The 2011 Academy Award nominees:

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As I expressed earlier in the week as our 2010 Year in Review began, I take it as a great honor that I am able to put together my list of the Best Films of the Year as part of my Editor’s Picks entry. And while I’m a massive fan of my own perspective and opinions, I’m an even bigger fan of the writing and ever-diverse tastes of the Film School Rejects reviewing staff. These are the folks who, through their sensational (and often divisive) review-writing, keep you coming back for more each and every day. They travel the world and brave the crowds at festivals, conventions, preview screenings and special events to bring you some of the industry’s sharpest, most honest film coverage. And I for one am honored to have them all on this team. Just as I did last year, I couldn’t wait to see which films each writer would put on their Top 5 lists as the best films of the year. And just as they did last year, they didn’t disappoint with their unique, ever-fascinating selections. So read on dear reader, as we present the crown jewel of our 2010 Year in Review: The Staff Picks.

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Welcome to my list of the best foreign films of the year! In case you’re wondering why certain films appear to be missing there are a few factors to take into account. First, films like Mother, A Prophet, The Good the Bad the Weird, and The Secret In Their Eyes are movies that made previous lists. Second, I haven’t seen everything that was released this year. And third, your favorite foreign release from 2010 may actually have been a piece of shit. I kid. But seriously, these are my picks for the ten best foreign language movies of the year in alphabetical order. As a bonus I’ve added in the five best English language foreign films for you as well. I know. You’re welcome. (Full reviews for all of the titles below can be found via our Reviews database, and my weekly excursions into foreign films can be found here.)

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It’s that time of the year again: that brief span of time in between Christmas and New Year’s when journalists, critics, and cultural commentators scramble to define an arbitrary block of time even before that block is over with. To speculate on what 2010 will be remembered for is purely that: speculation. But the lists, summaries, and editorials reflecting on the events, accomplishments, failures, and occurrences of 2010 no doubt shape future debate over what January 1-December 31, 2010 will be remembered for personally, nostalgically, and historically. How we refer to the present frames how it is represented in the future, even when contradictions arise over what events should be valued from a given year. In an effort to begin that framing process, what I offer here is not a critical list of great films, but one that points out dominant cultural conversations, shared trends, and intersecting topics (both implicit and explicit) that have occurred either between the films themselves or between films and other notable aspects of American social life in 2010. As this column attempts to establish week in and week out, movies never exist in a vacuum, but instead operate in active conversation with one another. Thus, a movie’s cultural context should never be ignored. So, without further adieu, here is my overview of the Top 10 topics, trends, and events of the year that have nothing to do with the 3D debate.

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One of my favorite non-starters for articles is the very bland “as you may know.” There’s no doubt in my mind that you’ve seen me use it in the past (I’m doing it again right now). So when I thought about how to begin this year’s top ten article, I wanted to begin by saying “as you may know, one of my great honors around here is to deliver my list of the ten best films of the year.” But you may not know how much of an honor that really is. In fact, it’s difficult for me to put into words how honored I feel to have anyone read this at all, let alone the scores of readers we see on a daily basis here at Film School Rejects. It’s safe to say that I speak for everyone here when I say that I am deeply honored by the opportunity just to write about film. You, the reader, offer that to us every day with your patronage. So my hope is that I can do you proud, dear reader, as I present my list of the ten best films of 2010. This year saw a great deal of personal turmoil for me, meaning some movie-watching blind spots. But some late-year scrambling has pushed my total films seen number well north of 200. And of those 200 or so eligible films, whittling it down to ten wasn’t quite as difficult as it’s been in recent years. Does that mean that […]

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If you are anything like us, 2010 has felt like much of a let down at the movies, especially lately. What with all of the talk about the year’s final tentpole being a bust and the Golden Globes nominating a movie with Christina Aguilera not once, but twice, it’s easy to see how post-cinemadum depression may be setting in. Then we watched this incredibly well edited video from an artist named Gen-I. It’s called Filmography 2010, and it makes 2010 feel like it might actually have been a good year at the movies.

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This Week in DVD

Most DVD Tuesdays see a random smorgasbord of titles released with no discernible pattern, and this week is ultimately no different. But it does feature a fairly hefty sampling of one genre in particular… documentaries! Who’s up for some true stories and real life drama, mystery, and comedy? Don’t turn your nose up so fast people. There are some fascinating true stories below, yes, even the one on Joan Rivers, and they’re all worth a watch or two. Titles out this week include The Other Guys, Cyrus, Exit Through the Gift Shop, The Town, Gasland, and more.

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The top nominations for this year’s Indie Spirit Awards are no surprise. Winter’s Bone continues its march through the woods to find its father and an Oscar with 7 nominations (which is almost all it was even eligible for). In a close second, The Kids Are All Right finds itself with 5 nominations. If you’re a fan of female directors, this year is celebrating a number of them in the top spots, but it’s also incredibly important to point out that Samuel L. Jackson and Bill Murray are finally up for the same award. The Indepdenent Spirit Awards make a good primer for the films that might make their way into the Academy Award nominee pool. In recent tradition, the winner of the Best Feature prize goes on to be an Oscar contender (and occasional winner). Examples of that include Precious, The Wrestler, Juno, and Brokeback Mountain. The full list of nominees continues below:

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Culture Warrior

With the release of Pixar’s Up, last year saw a great deal of conversation surrounding the ghettoization of animated movies at major awards shows. This debate resulted in something of a minor, qualified victory for animated cinema of 2009, as Up was the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture since Beauty and the Beast, but then again it sat amongst a crowded bevy of nine fellow nominations, and animated films remain unthreatening to their live action competitors because of the separate-but-unequal Best Animated Feature Category. I’d like to take this space to advocate for the big-category acceptance of yet another marginalized and underappreciated category around awards time: non-fiction films.

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There is the belief that art can elude, confuse, and manipulate meaning just as readily as it can reveal truth and reality to us. There is the alternate belief, however, that the illusion of reality and truth manifested through art is its most deceptive function. There’s a lot to be said about this subject with respect to Banksy’s street art documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, and here are what amount to, for what its worth, my two cents.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, tears are shed, feeling are shared, and you the listener will be very, very moved.

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Exit Through the Gift Shop

One of the most irreverent and fun films that I caught at this year’s Sundance film festival was the Banksy-centric documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, a film about a filmmaker who fails to make a film about one of the world’s most famous street artists. Now you can watch it, too. At least the first five minutes, that is.

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I feel as if I should be upfront about something: this movie, while it has a lot to do with street artist Banksy (its director), is not about Banksy. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t fantastic.

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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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