Beautiful Losers

"Excellent"

Beautiful Losers Review


In Jean Renoir's 1936 Popular Front comedy-drama The Crime of M. Lange, an unsavory publisher takes it on the lam and leaves his staff in the lurch. Unwilling to break up their camaraderie, the staff reconstitutes itself as a cooperative, publishing a grassroots pulp western series featuring the happy-go-lucky cowboy Arizona Jim.

In Beautiful Losers, Aaron Rose and Joshua Leonard's energized documentary celebrates the do-it-yourself subculture of artists engulfed in skateboarding, graffiti, and punk who gravitated toward the Lower East Side Alleged Gallery (of which Rose was the curator) in the late '80s. Here a motley collection of geeks, oddballs, lunatics, and downtowners -- including Shepard Fairey, Margaret Kigallen, Mike Mills, Barry McGee, Jo Jackson, Chris Johanson, Harmony Korine, Stephen Powers, Geoff McFeteridge, Thomas Campbell, and Ed Templeton -- recreated the cooperative spirits of Renoir with unfettered innocence, a lack of pretentiousness, and childlike glee, slapping together their artworks like Chuck Jones characters in heat. As one artist remarks in the film, they were just a "bunch of dumb, bored kids. All you had to do was have heart." Or as Stephen Powers comments, "It's really bad. I love it!"

Rose charts the rise and rise of this collection of happy-go-lucky outsiders with Rose as their Captain Nemo, navigating their success through a series of exhibitions at his Alleged Gallery. With splintered talking-head documentation and an edgy score by Money Mark of The Beastie Boys, the fortunes of the gallery are documented, rising along with the artists from the flotsam-and-jetsam 1989 art parties, to the crazy success of the 1992 Minimal Tracks skateboard art show which was picked up by a LA gallery and led to the first critical interest in the group, to the landmark 1997 group show, The Independents, which was the last hurrah of innocent abandon for the DIY group. Here, articles in The New York Times and Artforum transformed the group of subversive artists into the mainstream flavors of the month, as the artists sought to "appeal to both the smartest guy in the room and the dumbest guy in the room."

Beautiful Losers is a celebration of rude and raw art and the kinetic charge of experiencing something fresh and undefiled. Rose and Leonard punctuate the snarky comments of the artists with a jagged, jittery, and unfinished editing style, reflecting the type of art the film represents. The artists pile onto to one another like a chain car accident, rejecting the great man theory of artistic creation in favor of conveying the group dynamics of the movement and the ultimate goal and hope of creating a grassroots community art. The film dazzles with a sassy pizzazz, the filmmakers with the artists all the way in their struggle to continue to keep connecting with the chaos.

To be sure, the artists represented now all look like big kids pushing 40. Steve Powers is seen instructing a barber in the art of cutting his Eraserhead hairdo to perfection. Chris Johanson fondly traces the straight lines in a recently completed painting. Filmmaker Mike Mills swings from a rope swing and later on attaches an abandoned shopping cart to the rope and swings along with it. But the screwiest moment of all is when, at the height of the DIY fame, the artists were corralled into appearing at a Tokyo gallery. Once in Japan the artists were paid $1,000 a day to create mayhem in the city, which they did, captured on film by Cheryl Dunn, the most hilariously being a roped off car crash with the Japanese crowd applauding wildly, as if the whole event were a Japanese game show.

It is a rare experience indeed that an art documentary comes along that is not self-serving, self-important, and/or depressing. Beautiful Losers is a film that is infused with cool, invigorating life and with the bountiful joy and blessed-out abandon of artistic creation.

Not so sure on that "beautiful" part, but hey...



Beautiful Losers

Facts and Figures

Run time: 90 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 2nd August 2008

Box Office Worldwide: $56.4 thousand

Distributed by: Sidetrack Films

Production compaines: Sidetrack Films, Blacklake Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Fresh: 18 Rotten: 10

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Aaron Rose,

Producer: Rich Lim, Jon Barlow

Starring: Thomas Campbell as Himself, Shepard Fairey as Himself, Chris Johanson as Himself, Margaret Kilgallen as Herself, Jo Jackson as Herself, as Himself, Geoff McFetridge as Himself, Barry McGee as Himself, as Himself, Stephen Powers II as Himself, Claire E. Rojas as Herself, Aaron Rose as Himself, Deanna Templeton as Herself, Ed Templeton as Himself

Contactmusic


Links


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.