Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Silver Lining on the Silver Screen

// By T.J. Fackelman //

Lest you all begin to think it´s nothing but "doom and gloom" at the 60th Anniversary of the Berlinale, I´d like to tell you about a few of the less bleak titles I´ve enjoyed so far. The one that has elicited the most laughs from myself and fellow audience members by far has been TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL. This hilarious (yet slightly gory) comedy follows a group of college frat boys and their female friends on a camping trip into the Appalachian woods. At the same time, Tucker and Dale, two good ole´boys who like nothing more than downing a few beers and fishing, are on their way to Dale´s recently purchased "summer house," a rundown cabin deep in the forest. What begins as the perfect vacation for both groups turns into a grisly nightmare as limbs get hacked off and bodies begin to pile up. Is it the "pure evil lurking in the forest" that the local sheriff warned them about, or is it something worse? Could there be a suicide cult??

One thing is for sure...this ain´t DELIVERANCE!

Another wild ride is also one of the most hyped films of both the Berlinale and the recent Sundance Film Festival, Banksy´s EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP, which according to the press materials, directed itself. The mysterious Banksy may be the main draw of the film, but it´s the eccentric and fanatical filmmaker Thierry Guetta who gets the most screen time and steals the show. But Banksy full on admits this right off the bat in the opening interview segment which distorts both his voice and face, concealing his true identity. Guetta´s cousin is a street artist named Space Invader who specializes in creating and displaying mosaics in the likeness of baddies from the classic arcade game of the same name. It´s through this relationship that Guetta first meets fellow street artist Shepard Fairey, best known for his blue and red image of Barack Obama used in the 2008 Presidential Election Campaign, as well as many other artists using urban walls, sidewalks and streets instead of canvasses. Guetta´s excitement over filming these street artists is overly infectious, and his excitement becomes a full on obsession when he begins his mission to find the elusive Banksy. The artists agree to let Guetta film them because he claims he´s making the definitive street art documentary, but he confesses that he has no such intention. He just wants to film them.

In the dead of night, we witness Guetta and his subjects scaling walls, and climbing onto rooftops to create their art without being seen. And this stuff truly is art, not just ugly graffiti or simple tags, proven by the hundreds of thousands of dollars some collectors have paid to own a Banksy.

In the end, it´s up to the viewer to try to decide who´s putting on who and what´s real and what isn´t in this post-modern meta-documentary (the film that "directed itself"). No matter what you decide, it´s impossible to not have a blast watching this film that´s unlike anything you´ve ever seen before.

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