And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Review: Waikiki

There aren’t many films directed by indigenous people. Their voices are largely missing from the cinematic world. But still it’s somewhat shocking that Waikiki which is premiering today at the urbanworld Film Festival is the first narrative feature written and directed by a Native Hawaiian filmmaker. Writer/director Christopher Kahunahana’s vision of the Honolulu beach neighborhood is a far cry from the usual fun in the sun take. His central character Kea (Danielle Zalopany) is a young woman struggling to keep her sanity as her world falls apart. She’s in an abusive relationship, living in her van, working three jobs, and her past is haunting her. Then she hits a homeless man with her car.

The Descendants

If you’re looking for an adult movie that can appeal to the mainstream, adventurous and arty crowd this holiday weekend, then I highly encourage you to seek out The Descendants. It’s got George Clooney. Need I say more? Actually, I do need to say more – because this is Clooney at his best. He delivers a powerfully low-key performance as a fairly regular guy named Matt King who is forced to step it up as a father when his wife suffers catastrophic injuries in a boating accident. As she lies comatose in a hospital bed, Matt is left to process her impending death, comfort and support his rebellious and rambunctious daughters, and oversee the difficult sale of a large piece of pristine land that his Hawaiian ancestors left in a family trust (thus the title, The Descendants). On top of that, he learns his wife had been having an affair.

Princess Kaiulani

What?? You’ve never even heard of the Hawaiian princess Victoria Kaʻiulani Kalaninuiahilapalapa Kawekiu i Lunalilo Cleghorn? Well, frankly, neither had I. But she does have an interesting life story that is told – and acted- fairly well in this arty indie flick, though it takes a half-hour or so to really get into it. It’s a rather strange hybrid of a movie – part biopic, part epic romance, and part docudrama with some scenes that are reminiscent of those cheesy historical reenactments found in documentaries we all watched in grade school (or at the museum). It also features some gorgeous cinematography showcasing the natural beauty of Hawaii.