HAWAII INT'L FILM FESTIVAL
The girls of "Linda, Linda, Linda" take their concert preparations seriously.
Girls-band movie creates infectious vibe
I have a friend who used to play in an all-girls punk band. She said rehearsals took forever because they'd play one song, talk about their feelings for an hour, play one song, talk about their feelings for an hour ... which pretty much describes "Linda, Linda, Linda," Nobuhiro Yamashita's slacker success story about girls who form a band for a high-school talent show.
"Linda, Linda, Linda"
Screens at 9 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday as part of the HIFF Spring Showcase
Apparently there has been a spate of this type of film in Japan lately, directly targeted at kids who eat up strive-to-success stories replete with cute girls and power-pop tunes.
But because Yamashita (who is sort of a Japanese Richard Linklater) is a master of deadpan humor and sly observation, and has filmed "Linda" with wry detachment -- aided cleverly by Smashing Pumpkins' James Iha's after-school-special score -- the movie grows on you by bits until you're quite wrapped up in it at the end, which is, of course, the promised gig, which is, naturally, not going smoothly.
The title song is the brilliant 1995 anthem by the Blue Hearts, which for these girls is ancient history. The band (which they never get around to naming) has fallen apart when the guitarist begs off with a rather vague hand injury. The drummer and bass player (Shiori Sekine and Aki Maeda, last seen in "Battle Royale") talk brooding Kei (Yu Kashii) into learning guitar, and then the three pick the first girl to walk around the corner as singer. As it turns out, she's Korean student Son (Bae Du-na) who not only can't speak Japanese, she's got a terminal case of anomie.
In a movie that shot primarily in medium and long shots, in which the principals have similar hair, heights, body language and school uniforms, Kashii and Bae manage to make indelible impressions.
"Linda" takes these kids and their little concert seriously, and so do we. That's the way kids are, and the movie provides a fine, shiny reminiscence of school days, when learning three guitar chords in the right order was the most important thing in the world.