Kim’s Video (2024)

A documentary crew goes on the search to find out what happened to Kim’s Video and its content. 

Written and directed by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin, Kim’s Video is a documentary made using a few different styles of the genre, digging into the story of where all the VHS tapes and DVDs housed at Kim’s Video ended up a whole lot, giving us a fake heist story, and a story of redemption, sort of. The fake heist quickly becomes a case of did they or didn’t they, was it just for the film, and who actually will care? That section of the film feels unneeded, made to make fun of the folks who have the collection from Kim’s in their possession, and it becomes almost too fake for the documentary’s own good. While there is an attempt at something new with this part of the documentary, as this is a story created by the filmmakers and their accomplices, there is very little value to it in terms of learning anything about Kim’s Video. The bits about its history, the new businesses in its place, the tracking down of Mr. Kim himself, that was a great start to the documentary. Things take turn when they end up in Italy, and while the filmmakers may be partially to thank for the return of at least a part of the collection, the techniques used here are questionable on the front of the collection’s return and on the front of documentary filmmaking. The film’s last section is about bringing the collection back to the US and where it ended up, something a bit more satisfying in terms of an ending. Basically, the story of Kim’s Video is muddled here, most likely on purpose, giving not enough insight into how it came to be, how its importance is still felt today, how people who were regulars of St. Mark’s Place may have influenced the place, and more along those lines. The film focuses more on the fake (was it fake?) heist done by the documentary filmmakers, putting themselves in their own documentary and thus centering themselves in the story they were trying to tell, a story that should most likely not have been about them. 

The cinematography by co-writer/co-director David Redmon is painful in parts. At the start of the film, it almost makes sense to have a quality to the film that goes along with the idea who what we used to all get from video stores, there is something almost charming about it. However, as the film advances, the cinematography feels less like it was planned, or even framed in any way, The film loses the viewer’s attention at times due to this. While yes, it is understandable that a lower budget film would have a lower budget look. However, nothing stops a cinematographer from learning how to hold a camera, how to frame a shot, and how to light an interview. This part of this film was one of the most frustrating, which considering the film as a whole, says a lot. 

Kim’s Video is a documentary many will want to see because of their fond memories of Kim’s and St. Mark’s Place, but the film here is frustrating to watch on so many levels. There is something about films being made by folks with less experience, but this is not really the case here as Redmon has 14 credits before this one and Sabin has 12. One of them should have been able to make something more out of this. Of course, budget makes a difference, but some lower budget documentaries look stunning with crews that are less experienced, so that is also a frustration. Lastly, and mentioned at length above, the fake heist first in the middle of the documentary absolutely does not need as much screen time as is given. More time spent on the history of Kim’s Video and its background would have been fantastic. As it is, Kim’s Video can only be described as a frustrating documentary that is sorely focused on the wrong things for far too long of its run time.