Monday, June 4, 2012

Dirty Hands: the Life and Crimes of David Choe (2010) KAFFNY

Harry Kim's masterful documentary on artist David Choe is a must see for anyone who wants to see how an artist creates. It's also a must see for anyone who wants to see a damn fine documentary.

Kim is Choe's best friend and so was given unprecedented access to Choe and his art. Beginning in 2000 and continuing until 2008 Kim went along with Choe as he traveled the world, pained, committed crimes, did time and simply lived his life. Over the course of ten years (the film has footage shot prior to the actual filmmaking) we watch as Choe goes from a poor suburban kid who wanted nothing other than be an artist to a world renown artist worth hundreds of millions of dollars (apparently the stock he took in Facebook in lieu of payments for murals has netted him hundreds of millions of dollars in the recent IPO)

Interviews with Choe over the course of filming is supplemented with interviews with friends and family who add commentary and details to all of the things Choe has done in is thirty six year long life.

I'm really impressed. I'm writing this review after seeing the film for the first time, but I'm ready to dive back in. There is simply too much to grasp in one viewing with not only Choe's life, but his art work flashing by at a good clip. Choe is, if nothing else prolific and the camera records a good amount of his out put. The film's structure, its culled from years of filming, also requires a second or third viewing because it's not until late in the film that you begin to realize that there are essentially different David Choes, one from before his stay in a Japanese prison and one afterward. Yes the wildness in Choe after prison, but its something he seeks to channel into things less likely to put him back behind bars.

For me the joys of the film are numerous, from the joys of the filmmaking, as wild and wanton as the artist himself; there is the artist,as grand a character as you can imagine; and there is the art, rough and raw and as a live as anything you're ever likely to see. the mixture makes for a heady emotional film that seems to outshine the much loved Exit Through the Gift Shop about Banksy simply because we know its all real.

I really love this film a great deal. Finding a treasure such as this is a real joy and it's one of the reasons I love to attend film festivals. This is one of the finds of the year.

The film is playing at KAFFNY on June 7th at 930pm. If you can go I highly suggest you do so.

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