Old Fart Who Loves Japanese Pop Culture 日本の大衆文化を愛する中年

Japanese Dramas, Manga, Anime and Japanese Movies, Jpop, and anything else about Japanese pop culture that I find interesting.


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Saturday, September 03, 2005

All About Lily Chou-Chou (2002)

She was born at the exact moment that Mark David Chapman killed John Lennon Her name Lily Chou Chou. Genius or rather genesis. The Ether personified. This is the first line of the movie typed on screen as the main character Yuichi Hasumi aka philia posts to a fan site bulletin board. Is Lily the reincarnated John Lennon? Posters at the BBS think both are of the Ether.

Lily Chou Chou is a fictitious Japanese pop star that the writer/director Shunji Iwai envisioned after attending a Faye Wong concert in Hong Kong and witnessing the spiritual like devotion of her fans (yes, the existence of "fayenatics"--the ever zealous Faye Wong fans roaming the Internet and taking over cyberspace is not just a folklore). Iwai was having trouble writing a novel so he uploaded it as a series of BBS posts as an experiment, and invited people to post comments on the meanings behind Lily's music.

The plot is quite simple it is about a group of 14 year old kids with a large part of the action taking place at school, Yuichi Hasumi has a friend Shusuke Hoshino who becomes a bully, forcing Yuichi to steal giving the proceeds to him. Meanwhile Hoshino is pimping Shiori Tsuda to businessmen keeping most of the money. Yuichi is looking after Shiori per Hshino's orders. Shiori likes Yuichi who in turn has a crush on Yoko Kuno who is being bullied and later raped.

The movie itself is a meditation and moves through the Japanese countryside slowly at times, at one point Yuichi squats in the road and contemplates a poster of his idol slowly taking sip after sip from a water bottle. Almost always the haunting soundtrack plays in the background. At other times the actors themselves are the cameramen with tiny hand held DV cameras and the results are bouncy and frenetic movements you would expect from a 14 year old boy who's on vacation alone with his friends. If you do not like being confused by a film then this is not the film for you, because at times it jumps around and more then once I was completely lost but careful attention will be rewarded. It seems to be a film that you either love or hate, I for one loved it. The more that you know about Japanese youth culture going into the film the more you will walk away with in the end.

For example in the lines of dialog between Yuichi and his friends concerning Hoshino's mother.

You should see his mother. she's a babe.

His mother?

She's really hot.

How old is she?

Who cares? Pretty is pretty.

She looks like...


Inamori Izumi.

She's like her clone.

The mother is indeed played by Inamori in a very small role. She happens to be one of my favorite Japanese actresses. My point is to get the most out of any foreign film the more you know about the culture the more you will see, if in fact the director put anything there for you to see. I believe that Iwai packed this film with imagery, music and meaning that's waiting to be discovered on many subsequent viewings.

Lily Chou Chou Triva

Ayumi Ito really shaved her hair for the movie.

Lily chou-chou is a fiction singer. The songs in the movie is sang by a great Japanese singer, Salyu.

Kill Bill Volume 1 Triva:What was the song when Uma first enters the sword room? "Kaifuku Suru Kizu" by Lily Chou-Chou (actually composer Takeshi Kobayashi and singer Salyu, as Lily Chou-Chou is a fictional artist), lifted from the soundtrack to Shunji Iwai's “All About Lily Chou-Chou”

The DVD release has a nice fifty five minute making of documentary that will help clear up some of the confusion a first time viewer may feel and also explains the process that the author/director followed in posting his book to the Internet. There is also a music video:”Wings That Can't Fly” and a director credits page.

The movie runs 146 minutes. 709 users gave it a 7.5 rating at IMDB while reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes rated it 66% Fresh

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