Cats of Mirikitani (2006)
Critic Consensus: The Cats of Mirikitani is a look at an elderly street artist that turns into a sincere and deeply moving account of human compassion and healing.
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Critic Reviews for Cats of Mirikitani
It should not have taken luck and a charitable filmmaker to save Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani.
By paying him attention and making this portrait, [director Hattendorf] makes us see Jimmy Mirikitani as a three-dimensional person and not a stereotype of homelessness. You leave the film glad to have met him.
Offering pleasant surprises and emotional revelations, it's a compassionate film about healing and the human connections that are vital to that process.
What begins as a straightforward docu on an elderly homeless artist in New York City winds up as an indictment of U.S. internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII.
It's one of the best kinds of documentaries -- not calculated but serendipitous.
Audience Reviews for Cats of Mirikitani
Definitely not what I was expecting, although I'd only heard or read just a very little about this movie. While I expected the accomplished artist aspect, I had no idea that this would also be a very pointed examination of the WW II American internment of Japanese, most of them US citizens.
It took me a while to figure out that the "cats" are not just a nod to one of Mirikitani's seeming favorite subjects, but they are also a key to one of his worst internment memories, the death at Tule Lake Camp of a young boy who loved cats and would always ask Mirikitani to draw them for him. It wasn't until the reunion of internees at Tule Lake, when Mirikitani mentions that story of the boy's death again, that the true plaguing meaning of his constant return to cats as subject hits home.
And I must not fail to mention that a major theme here is that those people we see homeless on our streets are indeed people. Rather than ignore or avoid them, it might be wise to reach out to them. Hattendorf's reaching out to this particular homeless man served as a springboard to redemption, possibly both for Mirikitani and for Hattendorf.
This is a must-see documentary.
Documentary about a tenacious survivor who never loses his indignation against America and how it mistreated him and the thousands of other citizens put into prison camps during World War II. While watching the television reports of post 9/11 hatred of Muslims, he recalls the effects of xenophobia (I never get to use that word) on his own life. Some things never change. No-frills from a filmmaker that smartly sees when your subject is interesting enough, you need only put the camera on him and let him do the rest. Jimmy Mirikitani has seen the best and the worst that history has had to offer, and he has come through it all with his love of art intact. Highly recommended.
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