Film and Television

Documentaries take on Pat Morita and the samurai

Two recent documentaries available over streaming services capture very opposite ends of the spectrum of Japanese and Japanese American culture. The first is “More than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story,” which expands the limited image most people have of the actor. Mention Pat Morita, and almost everyone will say “Mr. Miyagi,” or perhaps, the iconic […]

Animation legend Willie Ito receives industry’s lifetime achievement award

In 1939, 5-year-old Willie Ito sat in a movie theater absolutely mesmerized by Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” He knew right then and there that animation was the life for him. So he started drawing cartoons, and when he wasn’t drawing he dreamed of drawing even as he delivered the Nichi Bei […]

TV’s ‘New Amsterdam’ tackles Asian hate

Over the past year and especially during the last couple of months, videos on various social media platforms have showed Asian people being brutally attacked on a daily basis. Incidents like this have become all too familiar: “When COVID was at its worst, a man stopped me in the street, he grabbed my arm, and […]

A new ‘Kung Fu’ debuts at a crucial time for Asian Americans

NEW YORK — Up-and-coming actors will sometimes claim to know a variety of skills to be considered for roles, but Olivia Liang set a boundary early in her career. “When I started off in the industry, people would ask me why martial arts wasn’t on my resume because it was such a typecast for Asians […]

REVIEW: Once more unto the breach in ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’

“Godzilla vs. Kong” begins, fittingly, with the big guy asleep. There is King Kong, colossus of the big screen, slowing waking on a mountainside. He rouses slowly in the morning sun from slumber before showering in a nearby waterfall. It’s, maybe, a little bit the same for the kind of movies King Kong symbolizes and […]

Animated ‘Demon Slayer’ strikes chord with pandemic Japan

TOKYO — The demons are everywhere, sometimes spreading like purple slime, lurking, killing. The terrifying plight depicted in the swashbuckling animated film, “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train,” has struck a chord with pandemic-era Japan, and possibly with the world. “Demon Slayer” has become the biggest grossing film for Japan, surpassing live-action […]

‘Captain Underpants’ spin-off pulled for ‘passive racism’

NEW YORK — A graphic novel for children that was a spin-off of the wildly popular “Captain Underpants” series is being pulled from library and book store shelves after its publisher said it “perpetuates passive racism.” The book under scrutiny is 2010’s “The Adventures of Ook and Gluk” by Dav Pilkey, who has apologized, saying […]

TAYLOR TAKAHASHI’S GOT GAME: JA goes from assistant to romantic lead

In the basketball movie, “Boogie,” the behind-the-scenes story of how Yonsei Taylor Takahashi goes from a personal assistant to a movie star — with zero acting experience and only three weeks to prepare — is just as interesting as the movie itself. Takahashi, a Bay Area native and basketball star at Alameda High, eventually becomes interested […]

Remembering the incarceration: 10th annual Films of Remembrance

The Nichi Bei Foundation held its 10th annual Films of Remembrance film series on the wartime incarceration of some 120,000 people of Japanese descent during World War II. While this year’s program largely moved online due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it also included a drive-in screening of “Farewell to Manzanar” at the West Wind […]

‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ is a dazzling adventure

Contrary to what “Game of Thrones” might have you believe, not all dragons are agents of destruction. In the newest offering from Walt Disney Animation, “Raya and the Last Dragon,” they are kind, full of magic and, when needed, the saviors of humanity. Five hundred years ago, we’re told in a prologue, dragons sacrificed themselves […]

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