Film Flashbacks

Ciara Ryan reviews some of the best films of the last two decades.

Exit Through The Gift Shop (2010)

Exit Through The Gift Shop is a brilliant watch for any budding artist, art enthusiast or those who just like a good chuckle. It’s a documentary film by famous street artist ‘Banksy’ that tells the story of Thierry Guetta, a French street art enthusiast who befriends Banksy and betrays him by stealing his ideas.

Thierry Guetta is a French immigrant who is obsessed with street art, although he does not produce his own. He carries a camera with him everywhere, and manages to meet with some of the most popular street artists from around the world and ultimately gains their trust.

We first see him with Shepard Fairey, who may not sound familiar but you are guaranteed to know some of his produce. He is most known for his Obey Giant sticker. Guetta manages to get in contact with Fairey and follows him around while he creates art, videoing every move. What Guetta fails to tell Fairey is that he has no plan to use his footage for a film, and portrays it as if it is for his own entertainment.

Guetta hears about Banksy; an artist who is most comfortable with anonymity. When he attempts to contact Banksy, he (quite obviously) has no luck. But Banksy then comes to LA for an art piece he is working on, and he contacts Fairey who then links him to Guetta. Guetta gains the privilege of filming Banksy in his own studio in England.

Guetta and Banksy’s relationship baffles everybody, including Banksy’s art crew in the studio. They can’t understand how Banksy has befriended a foreigner with a camera, who is clearly documenting all his work. He manages to gain trust from numerous street artists, who would prefer not to have their art displayed on video. Obviously, Guetta becomes bored with the documenting and decides to make some street art of his ‘own’. This documentary is an incredible watch as you hear words from Banksy himself.

Guetta now goes by Mr. Brainwash and has actually proven to be quite successful, even though his art is completely plagiarized. His work has even been used by Madonna for the front cover of her album.

The Imposter (2012)


Winner of 12 awards including ‘Outstanding Achievement in Production’, The Impostor is a mind-boggling documentary by Bart Layton that will have you on edge from start to finish. The documentary is based on the disappearance of a young American boy and a high-profile identity thief who successfully manages to steal the young boy’s identification.

A teen boy goes missing in the States and his family are shocked to hear that he has been found in Spain, three years after his disappearance.

The Impostor is an incredibly twisted film documentary about one of the most dangerous con-men in today’s world, Frédéric Bourdin. Previously wanted by Interpol, Bourdin is a well-known impostor who successfully fooled all of America in the late 90’s. Bourdin began impersonating from a very early age and has claimed to be over 500 different people, including missing teens from around the globe.

There are copious amounts of questionable details regarding this case. One big factor is that Bourdin was considerably older than their 13-year-old son, who would have been 16 at the time. Bourdin was noticeably years older than the boy who had gone missing. So why did they accept that this was their child?

Secondly, Bourdin is French, as opposed to the missing teen who was American. So how could this work? His English is incredibly broken, and he has such a distinct accent you could not hide.

Bourdin also had darker skin, hair and eyes than the boy who had gone missing. Were the family so desperate for their son back, that they actually tricked themselves into believing it was really him? With real words from the real story and Bourdin himself, The Impostor is a thrilling story that will never leave you.

Lost in Translation (2003)

Written and directed by the incredible Sofia Coppola, it’s no wonder that this film is so great. (Winner of 89 awards including Best Writing, Original Screenplay.)

Lost In Translation is an American rom-com set in Tokyo, Japan. Bob (Bill Murray) a washed out actor comes to Tokyo to film an advertisement, when he meets Charlotte, (Scarlett Johansson) a college student who is on a trip to Tokyo with her pretentious photographer husband who abandons her for work reasons. In a city where they are both lost, they find each- other.

Bob and Charlotte meet at the hotel bar in which they are both staying. They share brief encounters each night at the bar; eventually the pair arrange to meet up after Charlotte explains that she has friends in Tokyo that she would like him to meet. Bob and Charlotte’s relationship progresses as they experience Tokyo together in wild ways. There are three things about the film which are significant; the cast, the soundtrack and of course, the scenery in Tokyo.

With performances from Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi and Anna Faris, this film has plenty of talented faces that you will be sure to recognise.

The music in this film is one of my all-time favourites, with artists such as Phoenix and The Jesus And Mary Chain on the soundtrack which really suit the story of this film.

Finally, if like me you love to travel, you will be obsessed with the scenery in this film. Watch out for the scenes set at night, where the streets of Tokyo are colourfully lit and the industrial buildings shine bright.

Black Mass (2015)

Black Mass is a thrilling true story based on ‘Whitey Bulger’ an American convicted murderer and the leader of the American/Irish mob branded ‘The Winter Hill Gang.’ In the 70’s, an FBI agent John Connolly (played by Joel Edgerton) is charged with a crime involving the Angiulo brothers. He encourages his bosses to use high profile criminal James Whitey Bulger as a snitch in return for exemption of his charge.

The film follows the arrangement between Bulger and Connolly, and the whirlwind of events that follow. This film starts from 1975 and gives an insight into the terrifying crimes Bulger committed without batting an eyelid. The film follows through to 2011 when Bulger was finally arrested. The incredible thing about this true story is how Bulger was not officially caught for 30+ years.

Johnny Depp is almost unrecognisable as ‘Bulger’ as his face is changed dramatically using prosthetics, bright blue contacts and a blonde receding hairline. The scenery in this film is spot on as it really shows you the way Boston looked in the eyes of a true gangster.

American Beauty (1999)

American Beauty is a stunning screenplay which was nominated for eight awards and winner of five including ‘best cinematography.’

Written by Alan Ball, American Beauty is a peculiar story about a father going through a mid-life crisis when he becomes infatuated with his daughter’s friend. Lester (Kevin Spacey) is an everyday working man, who is looking for some spice in his life. When he attends a school event with his wife to watch his daughter perform, his eyes become completely drawn to Angela, (Mena Suvari) a beautiful young cheerleader. Lester’s crush makes him feel young again, and withdraws him from reality where he is fed up of his daily routine working and coming home to his wife who he doesn’t particularly have a spark with. His mind is set on Angela.

Angela evokes freedom within Lester’s thoughts. This film is about self-liberation and strange romance. Angela’s impact on Lester’s character will have you hooked as he makes dramatic changes in his life. This film is beautifully shot with various symbols throughout which all resemble something. Various shots taken show the world through Lester’s eyes.

Although American Beauty was made sixteen years ago, it’s always going to be a must-see for any film fanatic out there as the performances delivered are outstanding and the story-line itself is unusually entertaining.

Her (2013)

Winner of seventy-five nominations (including best motion picture of the year), Her is an incredibly touching screenplay that everybody should watch at least once in their lives.

In Spike Jonze’s film ‘Her’, Joaquin Phoenix gives a stunning performance as ‘Theodore’, a vulnerable writer from LA. We are introduced to Theodore immediately as a man who had previously had his heart broken, and who had given up entirely on love. When he purchases an operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) that is built to work psychologically like a human, he develops a relationship that essentially helps him learn to love again.

Spike Jonze takes a quirky approach to this love story that will leave you feeling strangely attached. It is certainly not your average relationship, but it is very easy to become invested in the intimate bond they share. The futuristic vibe created by skyscrapers and advanced technology adds to the originality of this film as well as the exceptionally stunning soundtrack. ‘Her’ is a touching science fiction love story that will stay with you forever.