Exit Through the Gift Shop
The mysterious British street artist Banksy — best known for prankish works like a life-size replica of a Guantanamo prisoner chained to a fence at Disneyland and ten-pound notes with Princess Diana's face replacing the Queen's — is the putative director of Exit Through the Gift Shop, an alleged documentary about street art. The film, which focuses on an eccentric French-born clothing seller-turned-filmmaker named Thierry Guetta, raises provocative questions about authenticity, art marketing, and the nature of reality itself. Is it a documentary about Guetta, who in the course of the narrative becomes a successful pop artist called Mr. Brainwash? Was it really directed by Banksy, who appears in the movie with his face in shadow? Does Mr. Brainwash actually exist? And, for that matter, does Banksy? The film is a masterpiece of misdirection. Actor Rhys Ifans' narration claims the film was originally intended to be Guetta's documentary about street artists like Banksy, whose identity has sparked much speculation (he's said to be from South Gloucestershire, and his name may or may not be Robert or Robin Banks). Guetta, a puckish fellow in a fedora and Chester Arthur mustache, talks about his obsession with videotaping every moment of his life. He is drawn, through a graffiti-artist cousin, into the exciting, subversive world of street art, filming artists like Shepard Fairey (of Obama "HOPE" fame) plastering their art on buildings and bridges, in dark of night and one step ahead of the police. Guetta gains access to Banksy by telling him he's making a documentary, but Banksy soon realizes Guetta is no filmmaker. He takes over the project and urges Guetta to "make some art." Guetta transforms himself, seemingly overnight, into Mr. Brainwash and mounts a massive gallery show featuring pieces brazenly derivative of Andy Warhol, among others. If Mr. Brainwash and the documentary are a hoax — and it's hard to see how it can be otherwise, despite Banksy's ardent protestations — it's a fairly extensive one. LA Weekly covered Mr. Brainwash's exhibit, and his pieces have supposedly sold for five figures. Even if Guetta's story is true, he's not nearly as interesting as Banksy and the other street artists. The film is at its best when it focuses on the artists and their inspirations and methods. Whether or not Banksy wielded the camera, Exit is just like his art: clever, ephemeral, and a little maddening, sparking interesting ideas while deftly eluding our grasp. Cedar Lee Theatre. *** (Pamela Zoslov)
A man poses as a famous Iranian director and convinces a family to let him make a movie about them. Based on a true story. Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 5:15 p.m. Thursday, June 17, and at 9:20 p.m. Saturday, June 20.
Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl
A bookkeeper falls in love with a woman and tries his hardest to marry her in Manoel de Oliveira's new film. Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 7 p.m. Friday, June 18, and at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, June 19.
Chris (Lars Eidinger), an architect who "feels a bit unsuccessful," and Gissi (Birgit Minichmayr), a rock publicist who coddles her bands, are on summer vacation when their relationship begins to unravel. Chris is stressing over an important architectural award; Gissi feels she loves Chris more than he loves her. There are so many serious and intense relationship discussions here, you won't mistake Everyone Else for Hollywood drivel like Couples Retreat. Even though Maren Ade's (The Forest for the Trees) movie isn't too flashy (it looks like a documentary at times), it does capture the dynamics of a relationship on the brink. Plus, Eidinger and Minichmayr are terrific in the lead roles. Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 7:15 p.m. Thursday, June 17, and at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 19. *** (Jeff Niesel)
Director João César Monteiro plays himself in the third part of his John of God trilogy. Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque. At 8:25 p.m. Friday, June 18. .
Writer-director Nicole Holofcener (Lovely and Amazing, Friends With Money) specializes in films about "difficult" women, and her latest work is no exception. Holofcener muse Catherine Keener (fabulous, as always) plays Kate, an avaricious yuppie from New York's Upper West Side who, along with her husband (Oliver Platt), owns and operates a successful furniture store. Navigating Kate's hermetically sealed, upscale universe are her equally testy 15-year-old daughter Abby (Sarah Steele), spiky senior citizen next-door-neighbor Andra (Ann Guilbert), and Andra's two granddaughters, bitch-on-wheels Mary (Amanda Peet) and wallflower Rebecca (Rebecca Hall). When Kate expresses a desire to purchase Andra's apartment after she dies — she hopes to increase the resell value of her already spacious home — conflicting emotions (most of them highly toxic, if at times devilishly funny) play out among the ladies. Few directors understand the feminine psyche as well as Holofcener, and even fewer share her nonpareil skill for cutting to the heart of the most seemingly mundane human transactions. You could call Holofcener a distaff version of Woody Allen, but that would diminish her unique, highly personal filmmaking style, which has more in common with European cinema than it does with the American independent scene. Cedar Lee Theatre. *** (Milan Paurich)
High school athlete Kimberly Reed returns to her Montana hometown to attend her 20th class reunion. Cleveland Museum of Art Lecture Hall. At 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 16.
Trimpin: The Sound of Invention
A portrait of a German-born, Seattle-based creator of unique sound machines. Cleveland Museum of Art Lecture Hall. At 7 p.m. Friday, June 18.