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Big Screen | Acclaimed "Gift Shop" Opens For Business; Oscar Winning "Secret" Is Out

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire April 14, 2010 at 3:41AM

It looks to be a very busy weekend at art houses across North America, with no fewer than eight releases beginning their platform releases. Among them are two films that were already the subject of considerable conversation earlier this year: Mysterious English street artist Banksy's "Exit Through The Gift Shop," which caused a stir at Sundance in January and is now being released through; and "The Secret In Their Eyes," Argentine director Juan José Campanella's film that surprised many by taking the best foreign language film Oscar over "The White Ribbon" and "A Prophet" (oddly enough, all three films are being released through Sony Pictures Classics).
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It looks to be a very busy weekend at art houses across North America, with no fewer than eight releases beginning their platform releases. Among them are two films that were already the subject of considerable conversation earlier this year: Mysterious English street artist Banksy's "Exit Through The Gift Shop," which caused a stir at Sundance in January and is now being released through; and "The Secret In Their Eyes," Argentine director Juan José Campanella's film that surprised many by taking the best foreign language film Oscar over "The White Ribbon" and "A Prophet" (oddly enough, all three films are being released through Sony Pictures Classics).

"Exit," which lead indieWIRE's poll of the best films at Sundance and is managing to become one of the highest ranked films in criticWIRE's short history, is heading into the weekend with some serious potential. Questionably a documentary (indieWIRE's Eric Kohn muses in his review: "Non-fiction purists can easily dream up conspiracy theories about the nature of the movie and the category where it belongs. I’m fairly convinced it’s a hybrid of some sort."), the film centers on video diarist Thierry Guetta, whose interest in filming street artists leads him to befriend Banksy himself.

"Just as “Exit” scrutinizes the assignment of aesthetic value to objects of questionable merit," Kohn continues, "it causes skepticism about the validity of its content. Viewers can wholeheartedly embrace the ambiguity, because “Exit” retains a light, playful tone consistent with the above-the-law mentality of its subjects."

Variety's Peter Debruge is in agreement, calling it "a raucously entertaining post-modern survey of guerrilla street art that appears to be one thing, only to fold back on itself and examine would-be filmmaker Thierry Guetta instead," while Time Out New York's Josh Rothkopf takes it one step further (and firmly calls it a "documentary"): "Let the pinkish, roughly captured light - Los Angeles after midnight - wash over you in the perversely brilliant 'Exit Though the Gift Shop,' and you can almost pretend you’re out committing a crime, planning a caper, falling for a scam... That rarest of art documentaries, one that actually leaves viewers with a better sense of the gifted versus the phony."

Check out other reviews from New York Magazine's David Edelstein, The Village Voice's Aaron Hillis, The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw, and Slant's Nick Schager.

A very different film from "Exit" (though what isn't?), "The Secret In Their Eyes" is set in 1999, but told in flashback form: in June 1974 a federal justice agent becomes spellbound by and subsequently entangled in the investigation of the crime of a young woman, brutally raped and murdered inside her house in a Buenos Aires neighbourhood. The Academy decided this tale was Oscar-worthy, and critics are - for the most part, at least- embracing it as well. The film currently has a "B" average on criticWIRE, with LA Weekly's Tim Grierson among those championing it:

"A crafty, pulpy crime-thriller, 'The Secret in Their Eyes' has a plot line seemingly lifted from your average Cold Case episode, but it’s a testament to director Juan José Campanella that the film (based on Eduardo Sacheri’s novel) feels so spry," Grierson writes in his review.

The New Yorker's David Denby is even more impressed, calling "The Secret in Their Eyes" - "a finely wrought, labyrinthine entertainment whose corners and passageways will be discussed by moviegoers for hours afterward as they exit into the cool night air."

Some of the film's detractors (or at least more mixed reviewers) come care of Time Out New York's Keith Ulich, who writes that the film is "about as deep as a kiddie pool, which isn’t to say it’s an unpleasant frolic," as well as (much more negatively) Slant's Ed Gonzalez, who says: "These ingredients combine for a sort of idiot salad, but because it's a foreign film with boobs in it, 'Secret' passes for high art."

Check out other (mostly positive) reviews from The Village Voice's Nicolas Rapold, Variety's Jonathan Holland, Screen International's Mike Goodridge, and Box Office Magazine's Pete Hammond.

In addition to "Exit" and "Secret," specialty films opening this weekend include Bette Gordon's "Handsome Harry," Bahman Ghobadi's "No One Knows About The Persian Cats," Bob Bowdon's "The Cartel," James Ivory's "The City of Your Final Destination," and Derrick Borte's "The Jonses." Check out links to each film's indieWIRE page below, which includes synopses, trailers and a variety of criticWIRE grades and links to reviews. For kicks, Matthew Vaughn's not-so-indie "Kick Ass" has been included as well, as a sort of indie-approved studio release of the week.

iW Film Calendar & criticWIRE:
criticWIRE | Opening this week | Opening this month | All Films A - Z

criticWIRE: Films Opening This Week

Exit Through The Gift Shop (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

The Secret In Their Eyes (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

No One Knows About The Persian Cats (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

Kick Ass (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

The City of Your Final Destination (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

The Jonses (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+

The Cartel (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C

Handsome Harry (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: no scores yet


criticWIRE: Films Currently In Theaters

Everyone Else (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: A-

Women Without Men (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

The Ghost Writer (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

Bluebeard (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

Vincere (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B+

The Square (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Mother (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Waking Sleeping Beauty (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

Greenberg (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

The Exploding Girl (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B

The Eclipse (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

City Island (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

Breaking Upwards (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

La Mission (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

The Misfortunates (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

The Greatest (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: B-

Chloe (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+

The Runaways (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+

The Thorn In The Heart (iW film page)
Average criticWIRE rating: C+

This article is related to: In Theaters, Exit Through The Gift Shop






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