Monday, August 22, 2011


Continuing the British Urban Violence and Star Wars mini-seasons respectively.

Exit through the Gift Shop: Meta-documentary about a documentary filmmaker who set out to make a film about graffiti artist Banksy, then, when the film proved terrible and Banksy patronisingly told him to go out and make some graffiti art instead, promptly became a huge international art sensation, with art selling for millions of pounds, despite having no artistic talent whatsoever: however, he astutely noticed that a lot of graffiti art is about marketing, reproducibility, and the use of particular iconic images over and over. Simultaneously a celebration of contemporary art, a scathing critique of contemporary art, and very funny.

The Empire Strikes Back: Still my favourite film of the whole series, with its noirish dialogue, downbeat story, sweeping direction and snow planet. This episode, Lucas is going more into mythology than film history, pastiching the Ring of the Nibelungen famously, but also I saw strong elements of The Aenead (a young hero, encouraged on his destined quest by the ghost of his mentor, taking a trip to the underworld partway through where he learns something pretty sobering). However, we've still got a lot of The Hidden Fortress (the middle section of both films, where a general and two comedy bumpkins escort an irascible princess out of a war zone), and Dune, plus lots of visual nods to chapterplays (the snow planet/cloud planet/swamp planet imagery, plus I swear the architecture for Bespin appeared in an early Flash Gordon). Yoda reminded me strangely of William Hartnell's take on Doctor Who. It's also structurally the inverse of the first film, where the action began with Luke finding out something dramatic about his family and ended with a set-piece battle. Somebody also apparently had a word with Lucas about the fact that the first film has only one woman and no non-white men, though it's a bit depressing that Bespin is apparently the only place in the universe with any ethnic diversity.

ETA: Somewhat nonplussed to learn, while googling for information on the production of this film, that Admiral Piett (you know, the goggly-eyed bloke who gets a field promotion when Vader puts the strangle on Michael Sheard) has a seriously huge fandom. The heck?

Movie count for 2011: 101