Tuesday, April 3, 2007
I know little about baseball, even it's the favorite American pastime. But I have seen plenty baseball films. Among all the baseball movies I have seen, "American Pastime" has emerged as my favorite.
During World War II, Lyle Nomura, wonderfully played by Aaron Yoo who is actually Korean, is a Japanese American boy who plays Jazz and is about to go to college on a baseball scholarship. However, his life has a dramatic turn when his family is forced to move into a Japanese internment camps. His family and other Japanese Americans begin to experience one of the ugliest chapter in American history: if one is Japanese descent, he or she must be the enemy and is tripped away all the rights as an American citizen, including freedom and dignity.
Although living behind a fence, Lyle develops a romantic relationship with the daughter of a camp guard and starts a baseball team to compete with the "White Americans" team living on the other side of the fence. Their story reflects the conflicts and racial attentions in American society during the World War II.
Sure, this is a melodrama, but it's a profoundly moving and well made melodrama. These Japanese American's stories make me think what the Americans were fighting for even during the World War II. For freedom? It's the US government who put its own citizens into concentration camps just like the Nazis did to the Jews. These Japanese Americans are put into these camps without knowing how long they will stay there. Sounds familiar? Are we repeating history by locking up people indefinitely in Cuba? Maybe not a repeat, since we are adding torture this time.
This is a movie about injustice, pride, dignity, sacrifice, and American history. While the film is very clear to make a statement to the historical events, it's also very entertaining and a beautifully shot baseball movie.
And because of this film, now I know what "442ND Go for Broke" means.
Finally I need to say a few words about the makeup in the film. So much of it. Every character seems wearing lipsticks. Almost all of them look so fair skinned like models appearing in a skin product commercial. But they are supposed to live in a concentration camp where they hardly have enough to eat and suffer from diseases and other harsh conditions. It must be the skin product. I want some of that!
My rating: 8 out of 10.