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Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings
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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.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm biased. One of my faves. Unbelievable talent and a real humble human being!Published 4 months ago by Carl Buchanan
This is a very interesting video for anyone that is familiar with Jake Shimabukuro's music.Published 6 months ago by P. dos Santos
Jake proved that if you follow your passion, helping hands will appear.. It also helps to be prodigiously talented!Published 6 months ago by Bushwhacker
I am a big Jake fan. I enjoyed seeing the beginnings of his journey with the ukulele. I liked the interaction he has with other people like his (then) manager and fans. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Jion Jugo
This is a "nice" movie, especially for people who are more into the players home life, philosophy, and romantic attitudes about playing ukuleles, and how he met his... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Joanne
Heartfelt look at his early life and career. Interesting look at the evolution of his music.Published 8 months ago by mom2a2
It happens that I play the ululate, and that I bought my most recent one in Hawaii.
That said, this was very entertaining, very informative and a compelling story. Read more