Green. Emerald. Verdure. Verdant green, cobra green, relentless, gentle, lulling green. (Warmth and wonderment.) Jazz, free jazz, cracked notes, torn sounds. (Meditation bells.) The diverting mix in writer-director Christopher Makoto Yogi’s “August at Akiko’s” makes for low-key atmospheric current in a modest Hawaiian sojourn. A musician, Alex Zhang Hungtai, formerly of Dirty Beaches, plays a fictionalized version of himself returning to the Big Island after a decade away, searches for his missing grandmother. He wanders his way into a Buddhist B&B and the path of Akiko Masuda, playing a fictionalized version of herself as well.
The gestures accumulate; cohere, into the incidental and essential anthropology of not regional, not local, but wholly personal picture-taking and moviemaking. (And sound-smithing.) And also: how little is just enough? In terms of incident rather than lulling atmospherics, in the most modest of intimacies? Yogi replies: Here ya go.
Eunsoo Cho’s cinematography is genteel Apichatpong; Hungtai’s music makes the mood. With Phoenix Yamashiro, Easten Tanimoto, Steve Iwamoto, Robbie Kane, Akemi Bischo, Ciara Lacy. 75m. (Ray Pride)
“August at Akiko’s” opens Friday, May 24 at Facets.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.