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The Slanted Screen

Examining Hollywood's checkered past and slowly improving present regarding the portrayal of Asian masculinity, "The Slanted Screen" provides a serviceable if uninspired companion piece to "The Celluloid Closet" and other overviews of minority (mis-)representation.

Examining Hollywood’s checkered past and slowly improving present regarding the portrayal of Asian masculinity, “The Slanted Screen” provides a serviceable if uninspired companion piece to “The Celluloid Closet” and other overviews of minority (mis-)representation. Helming debut for San Francisco public defender Jeff Adachi (himself the subject of a fine docu, 2002’s “Presumed Guilty”) suggests he’s had too much on his career plate to give this long-aborning pet project the attention it deserved. Nonetheless, once-over-lightly feature’s vintage clips, celebrity interviews and short runtime make it viable for broadcast and classroom exposure.

Thesis is that Asian-heritage men were rendered stereotypical, sexless and/or invisible throughout Tinseltown’s annals, leaving Asian-American actors unemployed (and sometimes represented by “yellowface” white actors). Exceptions are mostly recent, though silent star Sessue Hayakawa and James Shigeta in the late-’50s/early-’60s scored anomalous success as mainstream leading men. Squeezing too much material into a TV-styled hour, pic’s insights are mostly superficial. But images sampled — both derogatory and positive — plus input from filmmakers, academics, a casting director, thesps both veteran (Mako, Shigeta) and contempo (Jason Scott Lee, Tzi Ma) hold attention. Tech package is adequate.

The Slanted Screen

  • Production: An Asian American Media Mafia production. Produced by Jeff Adachi. Executive producer, Robert Chan. Co-producer, Alex Yeung. Directed, written by Jeff Adachi.
  • Crew: Camera (color, DV), Ann Kaneko, Michael Chin, Nancy Morita; editor, Alex Yeung; music, Sean Dana. Reviewed at San Francisco Asian-American Film Festival, March 19, 2006. Running time: 62 MIN. With: Mako, James Shigeta, Jason Scott Lee, Will Yun Lee, Terence Chang, Heidi Levitt, Dustin Nguyen, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Tzi Ma, Frank Chin, Philip Rhee, Bobby Lee, Eric Byler, Gene Cajayon, Darrell Hamamoto, Lois Salisbury, Tim Dang.
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