To Be Takei is an unusual American documentary. It is so skillfully edited that though it is made up of the stuff of today’s typical nonfiction film for television or theatrical distribution — interviews, film clips, a mix of black and white — it boasts a smoothness that never jars. It is very much of a piece and hangs together emotionally and thematically. It’s chronological when that helps and nonlinear when it doesn’t. Its balance reflects the balance of the actor and man it portrays.
If you were worried that actor Takei was becoming a professional gay, this sympathetic but honest depiction of a sympathetic but honest individual puts that concern to rest. We watch a successful actor lead an enjoyable, meaningful life in which he keeps his sense of humor. After the film my collaborator BKG remarked that George Takei takes a lot of things seriously but never himself.
To Be Takei is organized around four aspects of its subject: his early years in an American concentration camp during World War ll; his international success as a beloved continuing character in television’s original Star Trek series; his uneven movie career; and his celebrity life as he appears at various kind of events, Trekky and otherwise, and works for reparations for descendants of the incarcerated Japanese and for legalization of same- sex marriage.
As we more than once see and hear him talk about his family’s experiences during the incarceration, we observe a man who lives his life without bitterness. His humor and his lack of anger make him an ideal candidate for his causes. He has lived his life without hating anybody.
I don’t know how William Shatner enthusiasts will feel about the film’s giving him what it considers a deserved comeuppance, but even here the laughing eyes of George Takei shine.
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If you live in northeast Ohio or can reach it for filmgoing, you need to experience Akron’s Nightlight Cinema at 30 N. High Street in downtown Akron. It’s a no nonsense, unpretentious but comfortable theater where it’s what’s on the screen that counts. You will sit with a knowledgeable, attentive audience excited about what’s on that screen. Plus popcorn and bar and browsing issues of Sight & Sound and Cineaste. Their website details upcoming programs — none of them to be missed. Brighten your evenings and your life. Checkout http://www.nightlight.com.
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AND on Friday, August 29 at 7:00 Kurtiss Hare of Nightlight and Akron Film + Pixel is presenting, at the Lincoln Theatre in Massillon, Ohio, Erich Rohmer’s A Summer’s Tale (Conte d’été). This is an opportunity to see Rohmer’s 1996 comedy, in theatrical release in America this year for the first time.
NEXT Friday POST August 29
See you at the movies,