This is, hands-down, the absolute BEST documentary I have watched in years. These people are so sweet, so real it’s almost painful. And then, of course, you throw in the guy’s mind-blowing talent. It’s not an afterthought, the two go hand in hand.
Think back to your music classes in public school. You were given a ukulele and taught where the notes were (my dog has fleas!) and then with dilligent and constant work, by the end of the term, you might be able to competently play This Land Is Your Land.
Well, Mr. Shimabukuro takes the instrument to another level beyond our simple comprehension. It’s virtuoso time. He’s so self-effacing, you’d never know it. But the instrumental scenes will absolutely blow up your brain. Watch his hands, they’re so expressive, as much as the music is expressive. Watch him play for kids, see their faces light up. One of the most affecting scenes is him playing in a nursing home in Sendai, Japan not long after the tsunami destroyed the entire city. Watch the faces of those seniors, lifted above the disaster by his music. If you don’t get a lump in your throat, go see a doctor.
It’s really, truly incredible. Eddie Vedder and Amanda Palmer may be more famous, and may have re-kindled a passing interest in this instrument. But this guy, he’s been playing it his whole life. It’s an extension of his body and his brain and what he can make it do is, in the truest definition, phenomenal.
See this film. NOW.