‘Kim’s Video’ Review: Following the Tapes to Italy

‘Kim’s Video’ Review: Following the Tapes to Italy

Longtime New Yorkers of bohemian bent may be intrigued by the prospect of a documentary about Kim’s Video, the downtown rental outlet, retailer and shambolic hangout that shut its doors, as video stores tended to do, in 2014. Its title notwithstanding, “Kim’s Video,” co-directed by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin and narrated by Redmon, is less a retail history than a shaggy dog story. One that actually appears to be true. Go in knowing that and you might get a kick out of it.

The movie begins with someone bringing a hand-held camera to St. Mark’s Place, where a Kim’s superstore once stood, and asking passerby if they can direct him to Kim’s Video, which seems a contrived, disingenuous setup. It then segues into Redmon’s autobiographical musings. “My parents were 17 years old when I was born,” he recalls. No one’s asking, but OK.

Redmon’s soft-spoken narration is, among other things, peak film bro-ish, but it’s crucial to the narrative, which eventually chronicles the documentarian’s obsession with rescuing an all-but-stranded video collection. The collection was going to be housed at a library in Salemi, Italy, when Kim’s Video’s owner, Yongman Kim, made a deal to ship thousands of tapes and discs there. As it happened, this scheme turned out to be even more harebrained than was evident at face value.

Despite not even possessing Duolingo-level Italian (the segments in which Redmon yammers in English at people who don’t understand him are particularly irritating), the filmmakers uncover a chaotic web of corruption and incompetence. And soon “Kim’s Video” morphs into a heist movie of sorts. The documentary is presented by Alamo Drafthouse, the movie house that (as you may already know) figures prominently in the narrative, which resolves in a cult happy ending.

Kim’s Video
Not Rated. Running time: 1 hour 25 minutes. In theaters.

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