Cinepub


Documental: Exit Through The Gift Shop by Jamie

Spoilers ahead though honestly I don’t think they’ll really hurt your enjoyment of the film.

I’m not the most artistic person in the world. I can just about manage to draw half-human, half-animal people in as long as they’re pretty much just standing there. Oh, and drawing hands always gives me trouble as well. I don’t know much of the art world either. I can look at a painting and say whether or not I like it. Art interpretation is a bit of a mystery to me. This may be because my preferred art form, cinema, has become a huge bloated corporate corpse that’s quite far removed from the art world that birthed it. Sure, there are still the independent film makers still trying to cling onto their artistic integrity and even some mainstream film makers you could still claim are quite artistic but for the most part Hollywood is largely concerned with the dollar. Hell, even if you are an artistic, visionary director, there’s a good chance that your work will be fucked around with by the studio unless you already have quite a bit of clout. Just look at what happened to Fincher on Alien 3.

Still there is one genre of film-making at least were the substance of the story seems to be more important than the profitability of the project and that is documentary, a genre which I am particularly fond of. Sometimes these documentaries are about art such as the one I’m looking at today… Wow, that was a tortuous segue. Anyway, my point is this is a review of ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’, the documentary touted as being about Banksy and, whilst he does feature in it, it isn’t really about him when you get down to it. Rather it’s about the man, Thierry Guetta, who set out to make a documentary about street artists such as Banksy and what happened during this process.

Now, I should point out that there’s been some controversy over whether or not the film is a hoax or not. All I’ll say on this subject is that I’ve seen a fair few documentaries in my time and if this is a hoax then it’s a fucking food one. Everyone interviewed comes off completely natural and unscripted so I personally think it’s real but hey, I could be wrong. It’s happened before.

Anyway, Thierry Guetta is a French man living in California, America. He owns a clothing shop and he has one obsession, his camera. He takes it everywhere and films everything so much so that it‘s occasionally gotten him in trouble during the odd celebrity spotting. On a visit to Paris he meets up with a cousin of his who is part of the burgeoning Street Art movement. My understanding of Street Art is that it’s the inevitable evolution of graffiti, taking it from simple tagging to actually creating murals and pieces of visual theatre and such. That’s what I think it is anyway. Like I said, not particularly arty. Guetta’s cousin, named Invader, makes mosaics of characters from the retro video game ‘Space Invaders’ and places them throughout Paris and, eventually, other cities throughout the world. Guetta joins and films Invader as he spreads his art throughout the Parisian streets.

This ignites a passion in Guetta and he seeks out other street artists in order to film them at work. Finally a chance encounter leads him to Banksy and the idea of creating a documentary is discussed seriously. Good thing too because along his travels Guetta has collected literally thousands and thousands of hours of street artists at work without really considering what he was going to do with it.

Something else begins to happen as he films these people as well. He begins to help them pasting up their giant posters, helping them paint, holding ladders and keeping an eye out for the fuzz. He breaks one of those old documentarian rules, never get involved. I’ll admit, that might only apply to nature documentaries but still I stand by it. The point is that as Guetta gets more involved with the art, the more he begins to become obsessed with it. Soon he’s going out by himself and creating his own pieces. Whilst this is going on, Street Art continues to grow and starts becoming quite big commercially. Inspired by a show that Banksy has put on, Guetta decides he wants to do one as well giving himself the pseudonym Mr Brainwash.

He advertises his show heavily, apparently putting more work into the publicity for the show than he does actually doing the work into it. Still, he hires a massive team, gives them the designs and mass production begins on thousands of pieces of art that Mr Brainwash plans to sell at his show. Finally the show comes around, much money is made and Mr Brainwash is pleased. Some of the Street Artists he had befriended and who had helped him aren’t though. They see his overnight success as something corrupting, something he didn’t work hard to achieve by himself like they had.

And in the end I think that’s what the title of the film means. The film starts of with a genuine look at the rise of the Street Artists and an examination of what they do and why they do it and it ends with a show full of art, mass produced like cheap souvenirs in a museum gift shop, which seems to have been made simply because the ‘artist’ saw that it was making other people money and he wanted that himself. In fact the museum gift shop analogy is fairly apt. You enter the building because your interested in the paintings and such housed inside. You can study them, interpret them, find out the history of them and at the end of the day you can pick yourself up a cheap, meaningless imitation. That’s what I think anyway. Like I said, I’m not much for art interpretation.

Over all, this is a fucking fantastic documentary that I highly recommend whether you’re interested in the subject matter or not. Luckily I do because, although I may not be much into the art, I do like the Street Art stuff, Banksy in particular, but I honestly think that the story is interesting and engaging enough that you’d be able to enjoy it whether you had an interest in it or not even if this review doesn’t really get that across. Sorry but I wrote this a week after watching the film and didn’t have time to watch it again. Still, watch it and I promise you’ll enjoy it. Five pints out of Five. Laterz.



Documental: Nerdcore Rising by Jamie

The internet has done many great and wonderful things. It has made instant, worldwide communication possible, it has become a repository for all human knowledge and it has allowed for the easy dissemination of massive amounts of the filthiest pornography known to mankind. Seriously, there’s shit on there that would make Pinhead baulk.

But that’s not all it has done. It has provided a safe haven for geeks. Millions of people who used to sit alone in darkened rooms playing on their computer were suddenly connected to millions of other people who were also sat alone in darkened rooms playing on their computer. Before anyone knew what had happened, geek had gone mainstream. Sure there had always been gatherings at conventions and geek culture has always been around but this was different. Geeks not only utilised the internet but they were it’s pioneers, boldly going where no man had gone before, finding new lands and building websites upon it… or something like that.

Now it’s almost impossible to find any aspect of life which has been touched by the hand of Geek. It’s kind of easy to influence the world if you’re the ones who know how to utilise it’s greatest technological development. Now we’ve got all kinds of things tailored specifically to geeks. Movie companies, for example, will specifically keep track of what the geeks are talking about with regard to their latest film, especially that rash of comic book movies we’ve had lately. God forbid you piss of the geeks. Bad word of mouth, in an instant over the internet, can really fuck up that big movie you had such high hopes for.

TV has caught on as well. Think of all the TV shows which are tailored specifically to geeks and geek humour hoping to get that all important internet demographic. Shows like Robot Chicken, Family Guy, The Big Bang Theory, Myth Busters and a whole host of others. We are Geekdom. All your culture are belong to us.

The reason, I think, that geek culture has permeated so fully is that everyone has a little bit of geek in them (And you can have a bit more in you if you play your cards right. Smooth.) Everyone has that movie that they can quote without even thinking about, everyone has a video game that they love and everyone that little piece of pop-culture that they are obsessed with. It just that you’re full on geeks that to the next level.

It turns out that geek culture has even gotten itself into that most unlikely of places, that would seem to be almost it’s exact opposite, the world of Hip Hop. The sub-genre, nerdcore as it’s known, has been growing in popularity over the past few years and I myself have become exposed to it through mc chris frequent contributor to Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. To give the uninitiated an idea of what nerdcore kind of is, I shall post here ‘Fett’s Vette’ probably one of mc chris’ most popular songs.

So there you go. That’s a small sample of nerdcore and it’s essentially exactly what it seems to be, rapping about subjects which one would typically associate with Geekdom, things like Star Wars, computing, role playing and the like. It also happens to be the subject of the documentary we’re going to look at today ‘Nerdcore Rising’. Wow, that’s probably the longest preamble to a review I’ve ever written.

Anyway, Nerdcore Rising follows the story of the grandfather of nerdcore, MC Frontalot as he embarks on his first national tour and the ups and downs that he and his band, The Minibosses, encounter along the way. It also interviews some of his fans who show up to watch him play and they are arguably the most interesting parts of the film.

The parts that follow the band are interesting, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that they seem just like every other documentary I’ve seen that’s followed a small band embarking on their first tour, just with a slightly geekier edge. And it is that geekier edge which does provide some amusing moments. For example there’s a scene where they are discussing their first ‘groupie’ who has followed them for three shows. They start to make fun of her a little bit until they come to the realisation that the reason that they’re being a little mean is that girls make them nervous.

There’s also a scene in which one of the band members tries to explain the rules of Magic: The Gathering, a game which requires level of geekiness far beyond what I can muster in order to play it. This explanation takes about two hours and forty five minutes. Still it’s that passion for their obsessions that you really have to admire in the hardcore geeks and I do because I know I have a similar level of passion for my own particular obsessions.

Still, as I said, the most interesting aspects of the film are the interviews with MC Frontalot’s fans. It’s through these that you really get a sense of what his music means to them as geeks and you get a wider view of geek culture as a whole. The sense that you get throughout most of it is that they’re just appreciative that someone is out there making music about the things they care about. They have no interest in rhymes about popping caps in asses and pimpin’. They want music about the things I mentioned earlier, Star Wars, computing, role-playing and the like and they are just really glad that someone has finally created a genre of music they can relate to.

Also of interest are the interviews with other musicians. They’ve got rappers from the more mainstream areas of hip hop, other nerdcore rappers (including mc chris) and permanent geek favourite, Weird Al Yankovic. What’s most impressive is that the mainstream rappers are really quite supportive of the whole nerdcore movement. They respect the fact that they are making music that is important and culturally important to themselves. Most importantly they respect the fact that they are keeping it real. It was really quite touching. Oh, and Weird Al was just his awesome, awesome self.

The tour culminates with a performance in front of 7000 people at the KPAX gaming expo, set up by the guys from Penny Arcade. I gotta say that it’s a beautiful thing to see geeks gathered together, waving glowing lightsabers around and just having a good time. As for MC Frontalot, well, whilst I fully support the whole nerdcore movement and respect him and his efforts, I can’t say I’m a fan. Something about the way he raps just kinda irritates me. I think I’ll just stick with mc chris for now… Though there was a group called Optimus Rhyme and, even though they are now defunct, that name alone demands at least a listen. It’s also good because my own idea for a nerdcore rap name, Hip Hoptimus Prime is still available. In terms of other ‘geek‘ musicians outside of the nerdcore subgenre well, I don‘t think you can ever go wrong with Jonathan Coulton.

Well, that’s that. Overall it was a fairly enjoyable documentary even if it didn’t get me fully on the nerdcore wagon. I’ll give it 3.5 pints out of 5. Laterz



Documental: Darkon by Jamie

I consider myself a geek. I own a Force FX Lightsaber, over twenty Masters of the Universe action figures and a painting of the cast of Heroes hanging on my wall. But there are limits. There are lengths that even I will not go to when it comes to pursuing the geek arts and one of those lengths is LARPing (Live Action Role Playing), although I must admit, it does kind of fascinate me. I can certainly understand the appeal, the desire to pretend to be something more than what everyday modern living will allow but hell, I just drink to deal with that. In the world of Darkon, people take up sword and shield and fight to the “death” for honour and for country. Huzzah!

It is without a doubt the geekiest fucking thing I have ever seen. There are people who wear armour, people who wield foam covered sticks and people who paint their faces black and call themselves elves. They even speak in a crazy made-up elf language. To be fair, a lot of love and hard work has gone into the game and the world it takes place in. People band together to form different countries and the battles are fought in order to settle border disputes and outright invasions. These people even have a goddamn map so as to keep who own what exactly in order. Conflict arises when Bannor of Laconia challenges the imperialistic Keldar of Mordom throwing the whole realm of Darkon into war.

The movie does a good job of showing something that we all know. These people are sad. Really sad. They all pretty much admit that their lives have failed and that at least in Darkon they are in control, which is why it must really, really hurt when they lose a battle. And it’s not a sympathetic kind of life failure/dedication to one seemingly pointless thing like in King of Kong. You never really feel for any of the characters in Darkon like you do Steve Wiebe though I suppose you could pity them. Despite this the film  is still engaging. Perhaps it’s simply down to the fact that the people play the game with such sincerity and so seriously that you kind of get dragged into the story line of the realm they are playing in.

In fact, I’m beginning to think that that’s definitely it. The pieces between the battles where the people discuss their actual lives, why they play the game and how much better life is as their Darkon character are actually kind of distracting. They do provide background for the game and the characters within it but each time one of them pops on screen, I find myself getting bored until the next battle comes up. What can I say? These people have been role playing for a long, long time and have gotten the world down so perfectly that they are very adept at telling a story within it. Oh, and I’ve also learnt that you should never, never trust the black face paint elf dudes. They are treacherous bastards.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend at least renting Darkon and if you can find it cheap it really is worth picking up. It’s got people in armour on American football fields pounding the shit out of each other with foam covered weapons. How awesome is that? Now, I’m going to find out how much a spot of paintballing will cost. It’s no where as geeky as Darkon. Darkon was all about simulated battles using faux representations of actual weapons whereas paintballing is… Laterz.

Buy Darkon Here!




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