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Big Dreams Little Tokyo (DVD Review)

13 Jul, 2008 By: David Greenberg

Little Tokyo

Street 7/22/08
Echo Bridge
$14.99 DVD
Not rated.
Stars Dave Boyle, James Kyson Lee, Jayson Watabe.

Subtle humor, understated to the point of being almost imperceptible at times, is only one of the unexpectedly satisfying joys of this brazenly original and intelligent film.

Adventurous viewers not afraid to work to find meaning in their entertainment, as opposed to having empty images and run-of-the-mill plots spoon-fed to them, will find much to sink their teeth into here. The film is the feature debut of writer-director-star David Boyle.

Boyle stars as Boyd, fluent in Japanese and slightly Asian looking, a sort of alien in his own country with his almost androgynous appearance, limited social skills and apparent inability to find employment in anything other than one of his own improbable, unsuccessful ventures, a language school, translation service and authoring an English-language instruction book that he tries to sell to anyone he can engage face to face, be it door to door or inside a local bookstore.

Along for the ride is Boyd's roommate, Jerome (Watabe), a Japanese-American who longs to be a sumo wrestler despite consistent rejection from a training program and a diet that only raises his blood pressure rather than his body mass index.

Boyd aspires to be a self-made tycoon and tries to ingratiate himself into an executive position with a local Japanese-owned corporation. This utterly charming, low-key film follows him on his quest to find his way in the world, in his own way, on his own terms.

The filmmaker clearly has a lot on his mind as he explores themes surrounding the nature of cultural and personal identity, who we really are as opposed to who we would like to be. He raises the question of what is more important, literal identity as defined by race, religion or nationality, or how we are defined by the way we choose to live our lives.

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