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.