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Every Day in Kaimuki
Image: Sundance Film Festival

Film

Every Day in Kaimuki Explores Naz’s Last Night in Town

A young man is determined to give his life meaning outside of Kaimuki, the small Hawaiian town where he grew up, even if it means leaving everything he’s ever known and loved behind.

Sundance 2022: Every Day in Kaimuki

How strong is the pull of home, compared to the promise of a move to the big city? That’s the big question posed by Every Day in Kaimuki, a new film by director Alika Tengan. It’s a bit slight, not a lot happens, and Every Day in Kaimuki clearly goes into the “slice of life” category. But it’s still a watchable look at a young man and his last days in town. 

Tengan wrote and directed the film, which stars the cowriter (Naz Kawakami) as Nat, who lives in the small Hawaiian town of the title but is days away from a move to New York City. Since he’s Hawaiian and his name is Naz, one gets the sense the story is autobiographical to some degree. 

Naz works as a DJ at a local public radio station — where he plays music by Richard Hell and other old-school New York punk luminaries — and is planning to bring his girlfriend (Rina White) along with him, but she may be reluctant to take the plunge. He’s also a skater, whose friends are pretty vocal about how they’ll believe he’s actually leaving town when they see it (it even recalls the plot of the Ben Folds Five song “Steven’s Last Night in Town.”)

Image: Sundance Film Festival

The film, lasting just 81 minutes, explores the logistics of such a move, including the surprisingly complicated question of exactly how Naz is supposed to bring his cat on the plane. While no one wears masks, the film does reference the pandemic occasionally, so it’s not completely ignoring it like so many other films at this year’s Sundance do. 

The filmmakers, in fact, said in a recent interview that because it’s so hard to leave Hawaii, due to its remoteness, the quarantine period was familiar to many Hawaiians. 

Unless you’re a close follower of the Hawaiian indie film scene, you shouldn’t expect to see many recognizable faces in Every Day in Kaimuki. But it’s still an enjoyable film about a topic to which many can relate. 

The 2022 Sundance Film Festival will be held January 20-30 online and on Satellite Screens across the United States. For more info, please visit the official website.

Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist and film critic based in the Philadelphia area. He is the co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle and a Rotten Tomatoes-listed critic since 2008, and his work has appeared in New York Press, Philly Voice, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Tablet, The Times of Israel, and RogerEbert.com. In 2009, he became the first American journalist to interview both a sitting FCC chairman and a sitting host of "Jeopardy" on the same day.

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