Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|I Want to Destroy America|
Actor: Hisao Shinagawa
Directors: Peter I. Chang, Mitch Cullin (Producer)
I want to Destroy America is a documentary about the street musician Hisao Shinagawa a Japanese singer/songwriter who has refused to give up on his elusive dream of success and stardom regardless of personal cost and the s... more »
A great documentary
N. Huang | Brooklyn, NY | 06/05/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After attempting a few times, I found it difficult to write a review without sounding like a word for word repeat of Hazel Motes's excellent review above. It really is spot on.
I'd just like to add that director Peter I. Chang deserves a nod for interweaving interviews, stock footage, photos, and musical performances in a manner that really pulls you into Shinagawa's world. Even though the scope of the subject's journey is rather large - spanning Tokyo to Los Angeles, folk to reggae, MTV fame to poverty - the film is rather intimate, more like a conversation with Shinagawa. It is at times funny, sad, over the top, introspective, but always a real treat. I definitely recommend checking it out."
Strange, touching, funny, and different
Blair Kennen | Chicago, IL | 07/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Small films about people few of us have heard of can sometimes offer great rewards. I WANT TO DESTROY AMERICA is one such film, and this intimate & touching glimpse into the bizarre world of the musician Hisao Shinagawa was a joy from start to finish. Mr. Shinagawa is not without talent and drive, and lives with a stated belief of being "great" that places him in the Legend-In-My-Own-Mind category. And that's partly what is fascinating about his story: Living in obscurity with a grand delusion can also be strangely life affirming. Highly recommended look at a very unusual character."
He doesn't really want to destroy America...
Hazel Motes | Brooklyn, NY | 05/19/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm so glad this film is finally getting a DVD release. I was fortunate enough to see it when it showed at the Atlanta Underground Festival (under its original title of Life In A G-Chord), and I was very moved by the story...especially since I had no idea who Hisao Shinagawa was or is. Now I do, and I suspect that that kind of introduction was the filmmaker's intention for creating this very touching, sometimes strangely off-beat film.
Besides Shinagawa's brushes with stars (he was friends with Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt, and David Byrne) and stardom (making music videoes for MTV, signed to a major record label before getting aburptly dropped), the heart of the film is how this now aging Japanese immigrant struggles to survive in poverty. He plays his guitar on the streets of Los Angeles, singing in a style that is somewhere between Tom Waits on a bad day and Bob Dylan on a bender. Yet it is his commitment to his craft which is most inspiring, made even more so when it is learned that the beat-up guitar he plays once belonged to Townes Van Zandt. The back story, though, is where the meat of the film lies, revealing much about what has shaped Hisao, including the impact of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the American rock & folk music influencing the youth culture of 60s Japan, and the relationship with his mother who is now ill. But when all is said and done, this is the story of a someone who has given himself no other choices in life except to create, and the impression it leaves is one of a man who really is only performing for himself, with little care or regard for those who might stop to listen. It is fascinating stuff, if not a bit sad on occasion.
Other than Shinagawa being a little hard to understand at times (a slight problem when he's the only one telling his story), I'm also somewhat dismayed by the DVD title for the film. While intriguing to be sure, the new title is misleading, even though Shinagawa does state at one point something about wanting to destroy America. Still, this film clearly shows that he loves America and its musicians, to the point that he has made every effort to fake it until he makes it as a serious "American" songwriter. Granted, these are small issues, and certainly shouldn't keep anyone for seeing this wonderful and interesting film."