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Where Are You Taking Me?: movie review

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Takesue's biracial background – she grew up in Hawaii and Massachusetts with an Asian-American father and Caucasian mother – no doubt contributes to her sensitivity to those "cross-cultural encounters." But she has a principled reticence when it comes to recording the Ugandans. She often lets her camera, at a discrete distance from its subject, simply register the human activity in its sights. The film's opening shot, for example, of a busy street corner in Kampala, is a microcosm of Ugandan city life, with motorbikers, women toting children, businessmen, beggars. By holding the shot, as she so often does in this film, Takesue is encouraging audiences to take a deep, long look at things they might otherwise miss.

This tactic, of course, only works if there is something worth looking at in the first place. Fortunately, the Uganda of this film is almost brazenly photogenic, and no more so than with the faces of the people themselves. Takesue has a wonderful eye for human portraiture, and for landscape portraiture, that is arresting without being static. She captures, as she intended, the lyricism of the everyday.

We are taken seemingly everywhere in the country, from Kampala to rural villages. We see a high-society wedding, with the bride and groom as crisply fashioned as figures atop a wedding cake; we observe a women's weight lifting competition held in the banquet room of a fancy hotel. In another sequence, a video VJ does live translations of Bruce Lee films in the local Lugandan language to a roomful of sleepyheaded kids. Boxers at a makeshift outdoor gym spar furiously in rhythmic pirouettes. We visit a movie set where what looks like a pulp action film is being shot. (Later on we see snippets from such a film inside a darkened theater.)

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