Like an average Guy Ritchie blockbuster but with an additional extra large helping of cheese, tonight’s documentary, THE BANKSY JOB is a welcome reprieve from all of the hard-hitting, true crime films that have preceded it on Rialto Channel over the past month. It’s ridiculous and also ridiculously amusing, and key to that is its central subject, a man who is more caricature than criminal by far.
Absolutely slated in a Guardian review (which I think was unduly harsh, TBH), Ian Roderick Gray and Dylan Harvey's THE BANKSY JOB presents street-art provocateur Banksy as, for once, the butt of someone else's prank. The anonymity-craving talent dominates tales from the world of street art, but in this film the spotlight shines on another character - the slightly annoying, lots charismatic, and larger-than-life AK47 – AKA Andy Link. An ex-porn performer (the publicity material calls him a porn ‘star’, but I beg to differ) and acid house promoter turned self-titled ‘art terrorist’, Link has styled himself as the pantomime villain to Banksy’s folk hero. A ridiculously staged intro early on in the film that shows him surrounded by dozens of guards wearing hazmat jumpsuits and carrying machine guns cements this fact, as he sits in a bunker full of fancy street art and wears a series of amusing t-shirts and an impressive sh*t eating grin.
All this amusing artifice aside, the story is a good one, and it appears that everything stems from a personal vendetta from years before Banksy’s name really went large. Apparently, Link became annoyed with the artist way back in 2003, when he refused to sign a print Link bought at one of Banksy's earliest art world-attracting exhibitions. Both signed and unsigned copies were up for offer, but self-confessed cheapskate Link tried to upgrade an unsigned one for free, a request that fell on deaf ears. He becomes furious at this perceived slight, and that rage grows when not long after, Banksy wows London by sneaking a massive sculpture, The Drinker (a riff on Rodin's famous sculpture, The Thinker) into a heavily watched public area without anyone noticing. Motivated by his grudge, Link decides to steal The Drinker and hold it for ransom, a feat that proves ridiculously easy to pull off. It’s hardly the carefully orchestrated ‘heist’ that some have called it, more like nicking a fibreglass statue off a plinth with some mates and driving away.
The plotting and execution of the crime is bumblingly funny, and the developments that follow are even more absurd. Without giving too much away, Link is deemed the work's legal owner by the cops (it was abandoned property, and Banksy was hardly going to come forth to claim it) and a back-and-forth begins with Banksy's representatives about whether it would be returned. The artist himself (or is it?) even appears a few times, his voice disguised and his face hidden by a hoodie, commenting on the action.
I found Link fumbling and amusing as opposed to charmless and offensive, and the story a bit of a palate cleanser in a world of depressing real-life stories and #fakenews. The film is not perfect by any means, but it’s a bloody good laugh all the same.
BE IN TO WIN 1 of 3 DOUBLE PASSES TO 'THE ART OF BANKSY' EXHIBITION! To celebrate the premiere of the documentary ‘The Banksy Job’ on Rialto Channel on Thursday 30 November at 8.30pm, we have 3 double passes to give away to 'The Art of Banksy' exhibition at Auckland’s Aotea Centre from 5 January to 6 February 2018. Go to http://www.rialtochannel.co.nz/The-Art-of-Banksy to enter, t&cs apply.