I’m Not Here

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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