Another film that caught my attention at the 2009 San Francisco Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF) is You Don't Know Jack: The Jack Soo Story. Jack Soo is most famous for his role on the 1970's television series Barney Miller. He also had supporting roles in The Green Berets and The Flower Drum Song.
Jack Soo was not Chinese as his name would imply. Rather, he was born Goro Suzuki in Oakland. I suspect he changed his name to avoid anti-Japanese sentiment after WWII. Soo was interned at a Japanese American internment camp during WWII.
I can't say I'm a big fan of Jack Soo; I do know he was a popular nightclub entertainer in the 1950's. The Asian American experience or specifically Japanese American experience in the post-war years has long been of personal interest for me.
You Don't Know Jack: The Jack Soo Story was directed by sitting San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi. He directed The Slanted Screen, a documentary about cinematic stereotypes of Asian males. The film played at SFIAAFF a few years ago. I enjoyed that film quite a bit so I would expect to be similarly entertained by Jack Soo. It seems peculiar that a Public Defender has time to direct (and produce) two feature length documentaries during his term in office (seven years) but that doesn't detract from my enjoyment of his films.
Unfortunately, I won't be able to see either of the screenings at the 2009 SFIAAFF (March 15 and March 18). Rush only tickets are available so that means they are selling well. I am optimistic that Jack Soo will get a limited theatrical run in the future.
One more film I forgot to mention is Departures. Departures, a Japanese film, won the Best Foreign Film at this year's Oscars. It may have played in town before but I wasn't aware of it if it has. It certainly did not have the same cache if it did.
Departures opens May 29 at the Sundance Kabuki.
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