and now guitarist Kei Tachibana; bass player Nozomi Shiroko;
lead vocalist (and Korean exchange student) Son
Shiba High School is holding its annual Holly Festival, but the members of an all girl band slated to play at a rock concert on the last day have some major problems. Guitarist Moe has injured her hand in Phys Ed and can't perform. Kei and Rinko, the two founding and only remaining original members of the band, have had a total falling out, raising doubt as to whether or not the band will perform.
Kei decides to switch from keyboardist to guitar and to carry on with drummer Kyoko and bassist Nozomi. Now they just need a lead singer! Fate delivers one to them in the comic form of Korean exchange student Son, whose Japanese is, shall we say, somewhat deficient. The group, pretty much by chance, decides to do cover versions of three songs by The Blue Hearts, a very popular Japanese punk group that lasted from the mid-80s into the 90s. Leading off the set will be "Linda Linda," the group's biggest hit.
The film follows this quartet as they scramble for rehearsal space, fight exhaustion in the pressing need to get their act together in less than three days, and deal with ex-boyfriends and would-be suitors. As Kei, Yu Kashii is clearly the band's leader and chief decision maker. Aki Maeda (seen in Battle Royale and Battle Royale II) is adorable as the drummer and heart of the band. Shiori Sekine, from the real life band Base Ball Bear, has the least developed role as bass guitarist Nozumi. Her job is to feed the others and, at one rehearsal, tell each of them what they have to improve upon.
But the movie belongs to Du-na Bae, who was in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and the recent Korean horror hit The Host. As the well-meaning but somewhat out of it (due to language problems), she is hysterical as Son . There's something about her deadpan expressions and timing that, for me at least, bring to mind the genius of Buster Keaton.
Linda Linda Linda, which came out in 2005, screened at the New York Asian Film Festival 2006 last summer and subsequently had a limited theatrical release here in the states. I wrote a positive review of it in Asian Cult Cinema a couple of issues ago and was glad to see that a DVD was coming out on May 8th. The good people at VIZ Pictures, which is distributing the DVD release, were good enough to provide me with an advance copy. It's a beautiful transfer, and the soundtrack is spot on.The extras include such standard fare as director and cast info, original trailers, and other VIZ Pictures DVD releases. However, there also two very informative and interesting extras. "Culture Tips" explains such rituals as the school festival and the direct expression of one's feelings for another. "The Blue Hearts Audio FAQ" feature consists of several brief commentaries by Patrick Macias, an early Western fan of the group.
I suggest you look at/listen to these two extras before you watch the film. Your appreciation for certain things, such as the ambition, not to say audacity, of the band to do cover versions of The Blue Hearts' hits, will be increased. Incidentally, when Son introduces the group as Paran Maum, she is using the Korean for Blue Hearts.
Linda Linda Linda is a delightful flick that's got everything going for it: cute young Asian females in school uniforms playing Japanese punk rock! Unless you absolutely hate all these things, you should definitely check it out.
Linda Linda Linda - official movie site; subway cinema; imdb: wickipedia
Nobuhiro Yamashita, b. August 29,1976 , director - imdb
Du-na Bae, actress (Son) - ; We Love Bae Doo-Na [Subway Cinema]; imdb
Yu Kashii, actress (Kei Tachibana) - imdb
Aki Maeda, actress (Kyoko Yamada) - imdb
Shiori Sekine, actress (Nozomi Shiroko) - imdb