Of all the documentaries that I have watched in recent times, three in particular stand out. Two of these were to do with “art”.
“Exit through the gift shop” was interesting, never mind the conspiracy theories about its genuineness. Whether the documentary is an elaborate hoax or not, it still gets you to think. One has never been sure about all those Warholesque Campbell soup cans or the stenciled pop-icon images bandied as symbols in or of “popular consciousness”. Like an abstruse poem, if it does not communicate, what good is it and what’s with all the arbitrary valuation? In the meanwhile that the jury is still out over whether street or ‘manufactured’ art has any cred or is worth anything, one cannot but express surprise over the market’s alacrity to pay such a disproportionately high price for it. We are never going to know what was really going on in Warhol’s mind then, or what goes on in Banksy’s mind now – even if some day we might find out who he is. I’d rather, then, be the philistine and ask the emperor to cover up already, the “artist”, if ever there was one, having long left the building.
“Wasteland” is a deeply touching film about Brazil’s “catadores” who work in the world’s biggest garbage dump. Even if there is a question mark on this kind of art, at least the film-makers have exploited the “market” constructively to better the lives of their subjects, than just stand back, film their plight and leave them to their own devices.
The third one, Catfish, about a guy on Facebook who has this relationship with a “fake” account, makes for very compelling viewing. Just like “Exit …”, as the closing credits roll however and you come to think about it, you begin to question the film’s veracity. Which brings me to another question…
One wonders just how many of these films are contrivances – feature films in the garb of “documentaries”. This “new” genre has been waiting to out ever since “The Blair witch project” did a Milli Vanilli on filmdom. They’ve got their bragging rights for sure, now that they have the eyeballs to show for it, but with the line blurring thus it is becoming increasingly difficult to box them into their correct categories. Like as if the awards ceremonies are not enough of a travesty already!