Meditating on what Makes Masao A Simple Man

The cinematography is poetic and contemplative, making this film almost a tear jerker because everyone knows the inevitable.

I WAS A SIMPLE MAN Still 1 scaled

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

L.A. Asian Pacifc Film Festival
Regal L.A. LIVE:
A Barco Innovation Center

Sept 25, 2021
12:00 pm

Not everyone can say, “I Was a Simple Man,” like Christopher Makoto Yogi can. This film by this writer/director offers a truly sombre look at the last days of Masao (Steve Iwamoto). The flashbacks reveal everything you want to know about this protagonist–including bits of his troubled family’s past–and why he lives his days out with his daughter, often alone instead with friends and kin.

It’s tough to watch a parent grow old, hear them complain about one thing or another, and see you’re not able to help. Kati (Chanel Akiko Hirai) is the only relative trying her best because they share the same space. Her brother Mark (Nelson Lee) is living a new life far, far away. When she phones him and asks for him to come home, the dilemma they face together in how to deal with their father is tough. 

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LAAPFF 2020 The Power of Myth, Healing & Kapaemahu

The art style is simply fantastic. The sepia tones evoke a dream-like quality to contrast the past to the present. As the tale shifts from a quiet watcher to that of a child being told of his heritage, I firmly believe what’s presented here is a far better tale than Disney’s Moana. Both are terrific in its regard of what Polynesian culture represents, but if I had to choose which is more respectful in its production, it’s with Won-Kalu’s work!

null 31By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Available to watch in the continental United States via LAAPFF till Oct 31st.

The animated short, Kapaemahu, is a contender for the Academy Awards and I can easily see why after seeing it as part of the 36th annual month-long Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. It played at Tribeca, and if you love the power of myth as I do, this mystical work is worth seeking out. Not only is Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson’s work an alluring mystical retelling of the origins of the healing stones located in Waikiki Beach, but also it recounts the history of Hawaii quite well.

It’s almost easy to forget the conflict when the Europeans came in to colonize this paradise in the latter acts. Instead, part of this work’s charm is in how four tall and mysterious figures helped do more than bring together the natives from the region. They are transgender and recognized as benevolent beings. Their arrival is compared to the Europeans, and that’s where we get an excellent look at how this island nation’s civilization changed over time. As with Canada now respecting the nations that first occupied this land before any event, we are shown where we all came from.

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