Tuesday 29 Jul

Escape from Tomorrow

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05/06/2014 | Comments 0


William Friedkin spends a lot of time in his 2013 memoir discussing why Sorcerer didn't click with critics and audiences even though he believes it to be better than his previous film, The Exorcist. Now that Warner Home Video has reissued Sorcerer on Blu-ray, we can see what Friedkin's fuss is all about.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Broadchurch: The Complete First Season

Welcome to the coastal resort of Broadchurch, population … oh, who can keep track, what will all the corpses? Yes, Broadchurch is yet another British television procedural involving the search for a murderer in a quaint little town, just like the limited series The Fall and Top of the Lake.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Essentially part five in the ridiculously profitable horror franchise, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones continues the found-footage conceit of the other films. The difference is instead of the scares taking place in rich white suburbia, they do so in a junky apartment complex on a largely Latino side of Oxnard, Calif.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Documentary · Con Artist

Con Artist

The documentary ‘Con Artist’ is a brush with greatness — or is that arrogance? — as it profiles art-world scourge Mark Kostabi.

Rod Lott March 9th, 2011

Con Artist
8 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 415 Couch
OKCMOA.com, 236-3100
$8, $6 seniors

It’s too bad Oklahoma City Museum of Art already has played the documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” because it would make an ideal double feature with “Con Artist,” which is screening Friday and Saturday night.

Whereas “Exit” featured Banksy, an internationally famous artist so publicity-shy that his identity remains unknown, “Con” features Mark Kostabi, a internationally famous artist who can’t get enough press for his liking. In his own words, he’s “addicted to it.” The doc depicts his rise, fall and rise again, in spite of himself.

The “Con” of director Michael Sládek’s title holds two meanings: Kostabi is a conceptual artist, but also an admitted forger. Like his rival Jeff Koons, he’s a talent so in love with the almighty dollar that he rarely does any work anymore. Instead, he employs a staff of artists who copy Kostabi’s well-established style to make his every whim exist on the canvas. When it’s to his liking, he’ll sign it, while gleefully declaring that he’s committed yet another con.

Well, if he can be bothered to pick up the pen; his employees can replicate his distinctive John Hancock just as well.

Also adept at the piano, Kostabi is one talented guy, but his personality is another story, thereby making “Con Artist” imminently watchable. “Abrasive” and “obnoxious” are understatements when describing how he rubs his peers. In the film’s opening moments, he’s called everything from “a half-ass entertainer” to “Applebee’s aspiring to be Olive Garden.”

Is he for real, or is it all an act?

Some — OK, all — just don’t get him, as his interests veer toward public-access cable television, staging an elaborate yet still not entirely concrete game show called “Title This,” in which contestants offer names for his untitled paintings, for which they’re rewarded with $20 bills.

Viewers won’t quite get him, either, particularly after a bizarre, third-act meltdown that finds a presumably intoxicated Kostabi burning money, defacing his own paintings, farting into the camera and generally acting like a kindergartener who found — and promptly consumed — an entire sixpack of blue raspberry Jolt in the back of the pantry.

What does one make of a guy who, on one hand, had his statue of Pope Benedict XVI blessed by the subject himself, yet on the other, asks a room of Yale art students to whom he’s lecturing if anyone else has seen 11:11 pop up on digital clocks with regularity (and if any organization is looking into this)?

Is he for real, or is it all an act? I don’t have the answer, and neither does Sládek, but you’ll enjoy every awkward, outrageous minute of trying to get to bottom of his mad mystery of mirth and mischief.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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