Kimi Takesue (director)
11 October 2017 (released)
12 September 2017
95 AND 6 TO GO is a touching portrayal of Tom Takesue, an American-Japanese widower whose own life stories are uncovered as he takes on the role of un-official script supervisor to his granddaughter’s stalled feature film project.
Pictorially, it sits within the ‘home movie’ genre as the close relationship between the director / cinematographer and her subject is revealed, but Takesue develops it further, with stylised framing and structuring throughout the film.
As opening sequences go, it is one of best I’ve seen in a long while. Lingering shots of a man in his nineties doing press-ups, is mesmerising. Inwardly, you are willing the camera to stay longer, in the hope that it will encourage ‘Grandpa Tom’ to do a few more.
Kimi Takesue documents her family’s American-Japanese immigrant experience through her grandfather. As we hear him talk about his past life, the film follows his structured daily routine from his life now. His exercise regimen, which unfolds throughout the film, is both quirky and touching, expertly illustrating the strength, physical and psychological, of the man himself.
Themes of loss and hardship sit easily with the exploration of Grandpa Tom’s inner creativity as he offers up ideas and advice for his granddaughter’s screenplay and reflects on his own past artistic aspirations.
At other times the fiction script seems to be used as a deftly deflection by Grandpa Tom, a canny way of pointing the lens back onto the director perhaps, when he doesn’t want to talk about himself anymore.
Shot over six years, the film maintains its pace offering up nuggets of family history which continue to intrigue and surprise, and finely illustrating what it is to be human. In one scene, we feel we have the measure of a hard-working man with a strong sense of family and obligation, when unexpectedly we hear Grandpa Tom talk bluntly, and rather unsentimentally, about his dead wife, and the director’s grandmother. The scene, whilst slightly shocks, is a moment of genuine honesty and endears the subject as a result.
This is a thoughtful portrait of an independent man, whose private self is gradually revealed. The more poignant scenes, sit easily side by side with the more humorous moments, which often emanate from displays of eternal optimism or gentle revelations of self-knowledge.
Tom Takesue, is every-man, every-woman and for that, the audience will be pleased that the director convinced her once very private grandfather, that he should become the subject of a movie.