Documentaries about artists are typically exercises in self-aggrandising, intellectual posturing that makes you take a knitting needle to all five senses so you'll never accidentally stumble across the work being discussed (see Patty Smith – A Life for merely one example).
Beautiful Losers initially appears to reside in this category, particularly as one of the artists featured is Harmony Korine, whose last movie was the dreary Mister Lonely.
Director Aaron Rose makes his debut feature here, but is also owner of the Alleged gallery, the hangout where artists such as Korine found like-minded souls and set about forming a sweet art collective.
All involved are self-effacing, and although these guys and gals are serious about the work there is never the urge to slap them into getting regular jobs.
Home movie footage includes wonderful skateboarding stunts and a trip to Japan for an artistic demolition derby, while Korine fans get glimpses of his early shorts.
Mike Mills and Geoff McFetridge were later commissioned for ad campaigns by VW and Pepsi, but Beautiful Losers is too good-natured to grill them for selling out. It even makes a slight apology by stating that since these guys started out decorating skateboards they’ve always embraced commercialism. Hmmm…
However, the affection these people have for each other is what makes Beautiful Losers (the name is taken from one of their shows) so attractive.