Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 2006
Directed by
Linda Hattendorf
74 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Cats of Mirikitani, The

Every now and then a documentary comes along whose success is due more to serendipity as much as its maker's intention. Needless to say, Linda Hattendorf’s film about Tsumoto "Jimmy" Mirikitani is one such instance.

Jimmy was an 80 year homeless man who lived on the streets near the director’s Manhattan home who spent all his days making drawings on paper with cheap crayons. Intrigued, she approached him and after initially receiving short shrift, slowly won his confidence. When 9/11 made the streets uninhabitable she offered him shelter in her small apartment. What emerges is a remarkable story of one man’s misfortune, his stoical response to it and a long overdue reparation.

Mirikitani was born in Sacramento, California in 1920 but raised in Japan from the age of three. He returned to the United States as a young man to pursue his interest in art but was placed in interment camp after Pearl Harbour and persuaded to renounce his American citizenship. Most of his family was killed at Hiroshima and during the years since that time he has largely lived outside the system, surviving on sales of his art.

Hattendorf deftly uses an arm’s length observational approach to allow Jimmy to share his story and interweaves it with still photography and archival footage to create depth, relating her subject to the broader historical context his experience reveals and displaying the artwork he creates which is very much driven by his traumatizing experiences.

As Jimmy opens up to her she becomes more involved in trying to amend the injustice that has dogged him and the film morphs into a story of healing, set against the background of 9/11, which in turn echoes the American response to Pearl Harbour. The result is an understated but rich and poignant portrait of real humanity.

Available from: Madman




Want something different?

random vintage best worst