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The Cats of Mirikitani

The self-appointed co-star needs to be cut
By RICHARD BECK  |  August 15, 2007
1.5 1.5 Stars
Mother and Baby Cat, by Jimmy Mirikitani

Jimmy Mirikitani is a homeless Japanese-American artist living on the streets of New York’s Lower West Side, and in the opening scene of Linda Hattendorf’s documentary, you hear a series of voiceovers talking about him. The first couple are clearly spontaneous responses to a question, but the last is much more serious: “He gave me a picture of a cat. And he only asked for one thing in return. That I take a picture of it.” This is the voice of Mirikitani’s self-appointed co-star, Hattendorf herself, who goes from bringing him tea and blankets to moving him into her apartment for months. Mirikitani, who was put in an internment camp during WW2, is a fascinating, angry, witty guy, and he’s ultimately too big for Hattendorf’s film, which wants him to symbolize both American guilt and American redemption.
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