Premiering on the primary day of the Sundance Movie Competition, Kim’s Video is the right Sundance documentary, a playful and clever movie that teases one factor and delivers fairly one other. Simply as 2012’s Looking for Sugar Man got down to discover a lacking soul singer and uncovered a secret historical past of anti-apartheid rise up in South Africa, this affectionate and humorous movie by Ashley Sabin and David Redmon and enjoying within the fest’s Subsequent lineup begins as a nerd’s quest and transforms into, properly, truly two issues: one a wonderful shaggy canine story that in some way hyperlinks a New York dry cleaner, the Coen brothers’ late charges, South Korea’s CIA and the Mafia, the opposite an astute and really fairly shifting rumination on the very actual social significance of movie historical past.
The subject material raises questions which have bugged even informal guests to Manhattan of a sure age: No matter occurred to Kim’s chain of video shops, a cineaste’s treasure trove full of cinematic rarities and classics? And, secondly, who was this Kim, a shadowy determine who vanished after seeming to desert his assortment simply as shortly as he amassed it?
The general public face of the movie, co-director Redmon is from the Nick Broomfield college of misleading diffidence, first seen stopping baffled passers-by on St Mark’s Place for clues to the store’s former whereabouts (“A whole lot of issues was once right here,” shrugs one). The once-fabled landmark appears to have melted into the ether, however this collective amnesia will grow to be one of many movie’s driving forces; Kim’s Video isn’t only a feature-length moan about gentrification or the passing from analog to digital, it’s a movie about not taking no as the primary reply. The extra Redmon and Sabin (largely offscreen) push, the extra doorways open, every resulting in a revelation as shocking because the final.
RELATED: Sundance Movie Competition U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winners By The Years – Photograph Gallery
The usual knowledge is that in 2008, regardless of gives from inside the U.S., Kim unexpectedly donated his assortment to a small city known as Salemi in Sicily, with the proviso that present members of Kim’s shops might go to at any time, and that the brand new house owners would, sooner or later, digitize the gathering for posterity. It appeared to be too good to be true, and clearly it was, as a result of, after that, nothing else was heard.
A part of the enjoyable of Kim’s Video is that there’s clearly extra to this story than Redmon and Sabin are letting on, in a lot the identical approach that the makers of Looking for Sugar Man knew that their topic was alive and (type of) properly, and had even toured in Australia, earlier than their Sundance premiere. The primary occasion of that is that when the filmmakers arrive in Salemi they meet a person known as Enrico Tilotta, composer of John Carpenter-esque soundtrack music who will subsequently (though it’s by no means talked about) rating the movie and do an excellent job of it. And after establishing the store’s proprietor — Yongman Kim, who arrived in New York from South Korea in 1979, aged simply 21 — as a riddle wrapped up in an enigma, he turns up midway by to turn into a serious presence within the movie.
The story of Kim and what occurred to his assortment of 55,000 “bizarre motion pictures” after it arrived in a city that was virtually worn out by an earthquake in 1968 can be wealthy sufficient to maintain the movie itself, revealing subtle, artistic corruption of the type that might be acquainted to aficionados of current Italian cinema. However Kim’s Video goes the additional distance, and what might sound at first to be simply one other rights-avoiding fair-use doc all of a sudden turns into far more profound, utilizing archive materials as a novel layer of commentary, taking clips from Blow-up, Blue Velvet and La Dolce Vita as an example Redmon’s musings.
This all parlays into the movie’s surprising climax, an audacious coup de cinema worthy of Orson Welles’ F for Pretend, during which the filmmakers, aided by Charlie Chaplin, Jean-Luc Godard, Jim Jarmusch, Agnes Varda and lots of extra, perform an audacious heist to rescue Kim’s assortment. It might be churlish to disclose how, however this joyously chaotic payoff confirms a key tenet of the movie’s thesis: “Cinema is a report of existence,” says Redmon. “It retains traces of lives lived, of phantoms, ghosts. And when it’s thoughtfully organized as an archive, it’s our collective reminiscence of the dwelling useless.”