IMDb > Life Tastes Good (1999)

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Life Tastes Good -- The directorial debut of award-winning playwright Philip Kan Gotanda, whose works include "The Wash," "Ballad of Yachiyo," "Sisters Matsumoto," and "Manzanar: An American Story." A quirky tale that brings together a murder, poison mushrooms and a mysterious woman to reveal the ephemeral beauty of life and the unforgiving nature of death. It is the story of a rogue mobster who finds love in the darkest days of his life.


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A movie that displays the best movie can be, great actors/actresses and a great story. See more (4 total) »


  (in credits order)

Sab Shimono ... Harry Sado

Julia Nickson ... The Woman (as Julia Nickson-Soul)

Tamlyn Tomita ... Julie Sado
Greg Watanabe ... Howard Sado

Kelvin Han Yee ... Max
Tim Lounibos ... Archie
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sean Blackman ... Bernie (as Sean San Jose)
Philip Kan Gotanda ... Mr. Jones
Judi Nihei ... Clorice
Tomoye Takahashi ... Mrs. J
Diane Takei ... Lila
Jennie Yee ... Harry's Wife

Directed by
Philip Kan Gotanda 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Philip Kan Gotanda  writer

Produced by
Wendy Braitman .... co-producer
Catherine Gotanda .... associate producer
Philip Kan Gotanda .... executive producer
Joan Haratani .... co-executive producer
Tsugio Hiji .... associate producer
Manabi Hirasaki .... associate producer
Sumi Hirasaki .... associate producer
Dale Minami .... executive producer
Ray Ocampo .... associate producer
Martha Suzuki .... associate producer
Henry Takahashi .... associate producer
Tomoye Takahashi .... associate producer
Diane Takei .... producer (as Diane Emiko Takei)
Pamela Wu .... line producer
Michael Yoon .... associate producer
Michele Midori Yoshida .... associate producer
Original Music by
Dan Kuramoto 
Cinematography by
Michael Chin 
Film Editing by
Maysie Hoy 
Production Design by
Kate Edmunds 
Art Direction by
Jake Strelow 
Mikiko Uesugi 
Costume Design by
Lydia Tanji 
Production Management
Jim McSilver .... post-production supervisor
Jim McSilver .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Walter Marín .... second assistant director
Kenzo Taiji .... assistant director
Art Department
Jennifer Klide .... property master
Sound Department
Michael Emery .... production sound mixer
Mark Fay .... boom operator
Alison Rider .... boom operator
Paul James Zahnley .... sound re-recording mixer
Camera and Electrical Department
Otis W. Bess Jr. .... assistant camera
Dean Hayasaka .... gaffer
Ben Hurlbutt .... still photographer
Hilary Morgan .... first assistant camera
D.J. Radder .... best boy electric
Andrew Sachs .... second assistant camera
Peter Burgess Smith .... key grip
Brian Stephens .... grip
Chris Thomas .... gaffer
Beau Vaughan .... grip
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Kathleen Giordano .... costumer
Editorial Department
Angela Chou .... negative cutter
Steve Klocksiem .... assistant editor (as Steven Klocksiem)
Jim McSilver .... additional editor
Christine Willging .... assistant editor (as Chris Willging)
Other crew
Tora Chung .... assistant production coordinator
Saisie M. Jang .... production coordinator
John Sun Lew .... assistant to director
Jeremy Parr .... key production assistant

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

USA:88 min


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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful.
A movie that displays the best movie can be, great actors/actresses and a great story., 16 February 2000
Author: Adam Hartzell from San Francisco

"Life Tastes Good" is one of those movies that you just wish you had the power (read: money) to bring about it's wider distribution. Philip Kan Gotanda has put together a story w/ a family of veteran actors Sab Shimano and Tamlyn Tomita and new-comer Greg Watanabe all of whom draw us into each tiny step the plot and characters make. In this story, we have a father, Shimano, trying to re-establish ties w/ his daughter (Tomita) and son (Watanabe). The daughter is willing to accept the father's return but is concerned about his judgment of her life. The son has the career his father would admire but the son resents the father for a reason that isn't initially clear. Those of us here in San Francisco have been privileged to watch Greg Watanabe grow as an actor to the point of our expressing sadness and anger that Hollywood does not provide parts for Watanabe. Gotanda has utilized him well as he places a quirky reserved son, childish in his expressions of upset towards his father. Tomita's character is also well-developed to display a disaffection w/ her place in this world, yet still finding self-affirmation. I simply loved this move with each slow step. Not much is said in the movie. You're forced to pay attention than forced to ask questions w/ your friends afterwards. [I apologize if I've spelled the name's incorrectly. Unfortunately, due to Hollywood's white-boy network keeping many Asian-Am actors/actresses out of roles, I have not seen any of the names of the actors/actresses in this movie often enough to remember the spellings.] One of the interesting facets of the film is Gotanda's character's use of his finger as lethal weapon. When asked at a question and answer period of the San Francisco International Film Festival where he came up w/ that idea, Gotanda responded by saying that when one is forced to work w/ a small budget, one cannot afford guns, so he had to be creative. Hollywood's blockbusters w/ tons of cash @ their disposal can create fancy visuals, but they often lack in the creative story-telling and characterization demonstrated in this gem. Life does taste good.

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