Sundance 2023: Kim’s video Review
For many 80s and 90s cinephiles, video stores provided a different kind of education. New vistas and worlds opened up for the willing moviegoer and all were available to bring home. The disappearance of brick-and-mortar stores in the rise of streaming and digital shopping has since made physical media almost exclusively the realm of collectors and cinephiles. The answer to why in 2008, places like Kim’s Video in New York closed their doors wasn’t exactly a surprise. However, where do all these movies go when they no longer have a purpose? Ashley Sabin and David Redmon’s stare Kim’s video grafts the wild story of a video store with the personal connection the film has with its filmmakers. In the process, it provides an example of why preservation and access are vital elements in keeping an art form alive.
There is an obsessive quality Kim’s video where the films are immediately placed on a pedestal by Redmon, who narrates, shoots and becomes part of the story of Kim’s Video more than any other loyal customer. What begins as a love letter to a place where anyone with a subscription could access more than 55,000 movies, Redmon’s seemingly obvious question “what happened to Kim’s video?” it becomes much more difficult to answer and even more difficult to accept. The answer is that the Internet eventually killed Kim’s Video, along with other video stores and arcades – and right now it’s forcing movie theaters to fight for survival.
However, what it does Kim’s video it’s this obsessive quality that doesn’t let a blanket answer like “streaming” end the conversation. Redmon and Sabin’s film begins by establishing the lens through which Redmon views life. His passion for cinema informs his thought process, and throughout Kim’s video, points out the similarities between reality and cinema. Recognizing that a story can’t just end so definitively is how Kim’s video it quickly turns from an ode to video stores to a subversive narrative. It follows the extensive film collection from one of New York’s most respected film archives to its new home in Salemi, Sicily. That’s where things feel more and more like a dream.
Very active participant in the events that happen after arriving in Italy, Kim’s video always trying to move the needle forward with respect to the store itself. The contract that brings the films to Salemi opens up multiple avenues for the filmmakers to explore, each with varying degrees of distrust, as the films remain locked in a warehouse. At the same time, Redmon digs deeper into narrative threads until they return to the fate of Kim’s video. Through the sheer determination that Redmon manages to push against the blind acceptance of the collection’s destination he creates a clearer picture of a bleak situation.
Where Kim’s video it goes from there it’s better to find out if you don’t already know the story, and it’s more than just a happy or sad ending. It’s a final act that makes you wonder if the directors are brave or just too caught up in the subject matter to think straight. Coupled with the rational and very enigmatic founder of Kim’s Video, Yongman Kim who turns out to have a more abiding love of cinema, it makes Redmon seem obsessive to a dangerous degree. It makes for a compelling story and film, but there were many moments when it seemed like everything would fall apart because of a refusal to accept reality.
Redmon and Sabin could have been gone Kim’s video as nothing more than a trip down memory lane. At first, it looks like this might be it. But as it quickly becomes clear that not everything is black and white, Redmon and Sabin craft a documentary that weaves fiction and non-fiction to blur those lines so that reality itself feels like a dream. As a result, Kim’s video it moves from personal attachment to an unceasing desire for justice. The story made along the way is not just one that will resonate with cinephiles, but may also make others interested in preserving the past.
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