We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Aesthetically, there’s nothing wrong with Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings, the PBS documentary about the Hawaiian ukulele player who’s been selling out concert halls worldwide over the past several years. Its island views are always alluring, and watching Shimabukuro rock out on his tiny instrument can even be transfixing. There’s no question Shimabukuro is talented—just watch the YouTube video of him playing the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” to understand why it made him an Internet sensation. But the film is hobbled by its a narrative structure that unfolds like a Wikipedia entry: Shimabukuro first picked up a ukulele at age 4, faced a series of hardships, got lucky on the Internet, and then his career took off. Instead of watching the relatively predictable story play out, spend a few hours YouTubing Shimabukuro’s performances. Or better yet, see him live—he performs at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue on April 23.