Documentary Review: ‘Banksy Does New York’ May Be The Best Documentary About Him Yet

In October of 2013 renowned yet elusive street artist Banksy underwent a month long residency in New York City, showcasing new work nearly everyday. Due to the clandestine (read: illegal) nature of his work Banksy announced new pieces through ambiguous clues online and in doing so sparked a massive citywide scavenger hunt as people from all over desperately attempted to seek out his works for themselves. Time instantly became a factor because as soon as the works were discovered they became at risk for being removed, vandalized, or stolen.

There have been a lot of documentaries made about Banksy, but ‘Banksy Does New York’ may be the best one made so far (I don’t care what anyone says ‘Through the Gift Shop’ was not a documentary about Banksy). Documentaries about the now legendary street artist tend to rely on some tangential subject for much of their plot due to the lack of permission/cooperation from Banksy himself. This film is no exception, but the city of New York provides a good medium for the artist and his art to be showcased against.

Through the eyes of various New Yorkers the documentary attempts to show how this one-month of Banksy in New York brought people together and affected the city. It is an interesting angle to examine, and it also compliments well the other portions of the film that work to explain and situate Banksy within his proper cultural and artistic setting.

It is often said that good art includes the experience and reactions that it draws, and if that is true then this documentary is evidence of the quality of Banksy’s craft. Love him, hate him, or misunderstand him; Banksy’s work draws a reaction (and quite a crowd).

Fans of Banksy will enjoy the way that this documentary systematically documents the entirety of his New York residency and provides context and background on many of the pieces he did during that infamous 31 days. People unfamiliar with Banksy will appreciate the ease at which he is introduced and explained within the context of his work. This isn’t just a bunch of people sitting around talking (though there is that as well). This is a movie with an engrossing and linear plot that aims to keep viewers entertained. There is a story to tell in ‘Banksy Does New York,’ and it is an interesting one to watch unfold.

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