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Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings (2013)

 NR |  DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)

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Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings + Grand Ukulele + LIVE: Jake Shimabukuro
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Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Pbs (Direct)
  • DVD Release Date: July 2, 2013
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00C888OQ4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,969 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings tells the heartfelt story of a musical sensation whose virtuoso skills on the ukelele have transformed all previous notions of the instrument's potential as he touches the lives of the young and old who inspire his brilliance. On the road from Los Angeles to New York to Japan, the film captures the solitary life on tour: the exhilaration of performance, the wonder of newfound fame, and the loneliness of separation from home and family

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Playing Film Festivals now- On DVD in July 2013 April 15, 2013
Format:DVD
I saw this film yesterday at the WXPN Music Film Festival in Philadelphia (coordinated by the Philadelphia Film Society). It is making the round of film festivals now and is due on DVD in July 2013.
I've followed ukulele prodigy Jake Shimabukuro's career of 11 years now (from his early albums with a band). Now he goes it alone and can hold an audience of 3,000 or more for two hours with just his "jumping flea" (English translation of the word "ukulele). Watching this 58-minute film, made in 2011 and released in 2012, I still learned new things about Jake. We get to see his mother and brother as well as his new wife and his now-former manager, Kaz Flanagan. He's a father now but his son was born after the film was completed. Luckily Jake was filmed throughout his long career (he's only in his early 30s but started playing at age four.) and a lot of that footage was used by the filmmakers.

If you know Jake and his music you'll really enjoy this film (I loved it!) and if you've only heard his name - or maybe are one of the THREE MILLION people who have seen the YouTube video of him in Central Park playing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", then - after watching this film, you'll probably run out and buy Jake's CDs. And then tell your friends about it.

I'm hoping there were be bonus performances when the DVD is released (and I'll update my review then) but , for now, catch it on the big screen if you have the opportunity.

UPDATE (6/21/13): I've now seen the DVD and, sadly, there are no bonus features (even outtakes) included. I'm still giving the DVD five stars but sure wish they included full performances so you could watch on your TV in HD or at least big screen.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Jake Shimabukuro is not a "ukulele player" -- he's a world-renowned musical virtuoso who blows away anyone who hears his music. He is in the same pantheon as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Bela Fleck, and even great classical musicians such as Yo-Yo Ma and Hilary Hahn. Jake, more than any musician I know of, transcends his instrument and creates pure music, touching the souls of his listeners.

A well-kept (though award-winning) Hawaiian and Japanese secret until 2006, Jake burst upon the world stage when someone posted the now-famous video of him playing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on YouTube. The video instantly went viral, and Jake became a international star, receiving concert requests from around the world, and playing with and opening for such stars as Jimmy Buffett, Bela Fleck, Ziggy Marley, and Bette Midler, and being produced by Alan Parsons.

All while retaining his youthful humility and disarming openness and lack of pretense. This movie is a lovely look into his life, both for Jake fans, and for those who have never heard of him. The film is by turns fascinating, jaw-dropping, inspiring, funny, touching, and moving. It's a well-rounded and expertly done piece of cinema by a very experienced Japanese-American documentarian, who strives to bring the human touch to his work. The film should appeal to anyone, regardless of age, nationality, or musical interest (or lack thereof). Jake's life alone is fascinating, never mind his brilliant music (which we are given glorious exposure to).

Jake has a special connection with Japan, both through his heritage and because his longtime manager is from Japan. Thus, he's an even bigger star in Japan than in the U.S. Hopefully, this wonderful film will open the eyes of further music lovers in the U.S.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great musical talent, beautiful documentary May 12, 2013
Format:DVD
I saw the film on PBS this afternoon and was moved, enriched and entertained by it. I was familiar with Jake's music and have appreciated the way he can get wonderful feeling out of what others might consider a very limited instrument. He can create exquisite lyrical statements....his version of George Harrison's While My Guitar Gently Weeps is justly famous.....join the millions who've seen the YouTube version shot in New York's Central Park. In this documentary we learn about the Hawaii and family environment he emerged from, his special relationship with a Japanese woman who is his business manager and his romance and ultimate marriage to his wife. Extremely moving is Jake's visit to his business manager's home city in Japan which was devastated by the tsunami.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
I too saw this on PBS - I have no idea if it was the full version, but it was absolutely spectacular. To know that Jake learned to play the ukulele because it was a way to feel close to his musically talented single mom, who he couldn't spend much time with because she was a bar singer and working long hours and late nights to provide a home for Jake and his little brother ... well that gave me a greater understanding of his need to excel on this instrument. To see Jake share his instrument with pre-school children, teenagers, and then again with seniors in assisted living was really special. He was able to connect with them all on a very intimate level. And then on to play at some of the best musical venues in the world. His ability to connect on an emotional level with all ages and different musical genres is truly amazing.

I'm not going to write too much about Jake's incredible talent, because it's all been said before. However, to realize that he has achieved this level of competence at such a young age is quite remarkable. Although not without an incredible amount of practice! (Note to self: practice more often). I think he is an excellent example for young people of how you can achieve something through perseverence and not necessarily through spending thousands of dollars on private lessons or expensive equipment.

And yes, this film was definitely all the more moving when he returned to Japan with his manager to visit what used to be her home town which was devastated by the earthquake/tsunami.

I'm hoping the DVD has some extras on it!

Absolutely not to be missed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Love him. Amazing talent. So humble. Great documentary chronicling his life.
Published 3 days ago by J.M.D.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderful film following the career of Jake.
Published 11 days ago by Northwest Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story of Jake's life
We saw Jake in concert a couple of years ago, and he was fantastic. This video really brings you into his life and family. I saw the video on Netflix and loved it. Read more
Published 18 days ago by wanna be raw
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Entertaining movie about Jake the ukulele virtuoso.
Published 18 days ago by Glenn
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
If you like his music, you'll love his story!
Published 1 month ago by Ed Bastien
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazing talent and story. Inspiring and great music
Published 1 month ago by CJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A true virtuoso!
Published 1 month ago by Miranda L. Paymer
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch it.
I am not one for documentary's, but this one was fantastic. Jake is amazing.
Published 1 month ago by AmazonCustomer
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully rewarding and inspiring
Wonderfully rewarding and superbly inspiring story narrated in first person by a true genius.
It is very easy to connect with Jake in the movie just as he connects with his... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Adithya Simha
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard not to like.
Touching bio of the man who transformed the ukelele from a Hawaiian passion into a worldwide obsession beyond his wildest dreams. Hard not to like.
Published 1 month ago by Book lover
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