Based on the true story of Shepard Fairey's first act of street art, OBEY THE GIANT tells the story of a young skate punk challenging a big-city mayor and the powers-that-be at art school. ... See full summary »
Based on the true story of Shepard Fairey's first act of street art, OBEY THE GIANT tells the story of a young skate punk challenging a big-city mayor and the powers-that-be at art school. Frustrated by his inability to gain respect within the confines of art school Shepard sets out to gain notoriety and acclaim by targeting the most powerful man in Providence, former Mayor Buddy Cianci. Risking expulsion and jail time Shepard plasters Andre the Giant's face over the image of Cianci on a campaign billboard. As word of Shepard's prank gets out, Shepard learns that art is a weapon and attention is both a blessing and a curse. Written by
Very professional production but weak in terms of dialogue, characters and performances
Even if you do not recognize the name Shepard Fairey without some additional context, you will have seen his work whether it is the "obey" stencil with Andre the Giant or, of course, the Obama "Hope" poster. This short film is somewhat of an origin story for the man and takes us back to the days when he was a student and realized that getting known was important, perhaps more important than the art. As a result he decides to take his main image (a screen print of Andre the Giant) and display it publicly on a billboard for Mayor Buddy Cianci.
I had heard lots of praise for this film and came to it interested to see what it does not even really knowing that it was about Fairey till I saw the image at the start. I came to this from a short film site which is run by filmmakers, Vimeo staff and other such types and one of the downsides of the site is that they seem unable or unwilling to see faults with the films they promote. I can understand this they have more knowledge than I do of the work it takes to make things happen, so they maybe appreciate them in a different way rather than coming at them as just a casual viewer. Anyway, with this film the praise for the professional production is well deserved because it has lots of great shots, makes the most of its resources, creates great locations and generally is well shot. None of this was a problem but the story was.
The film is a snapshot in time but it seems to have been done without commentary or with muddled comment. The film shows Fairey as both an artist but also an attention seeker, shows him standing up but yet backing down to the Mayor indeed the whole thing appears to have no political motive or desire but yet the film seems keen to point out what happened to Cianci as if there was a connection. It is strange because it feels like the film is trying to make a statement but then never does. While floating around this, the film also fails to give Fairey any character at all he is all events and no substance and in the end I really had no feeling towards this character at all. It isn't helped that the performances are pretty average. Wills is stiff, Jochim overplays but at least is fun and the final scene over the credits is yet another scene of stiff unnaturalness. The writing is poor too unnatural dialogue delivered like a statement about art with sentences that are really clunky but have the word "dude" thrown in there to make it try and sound more realistic.
It is a shame because technically the film is very well produced and the idea is really a good one, but the film lacks a voice and a point to make, resulting in mostly events being shown with weakly defined characters floating through it.
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