|Original title: リンダ リンダ リンダ|
|Rating: (4 / 5)|
|Directors: Nobuhiro Yamashita|
|Duration: 114 min.|
|Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music|
Linda Linda Linda
Mere days before the high school festival a girl band is forced to find a new lead singer. It sort of ends up being Korean exchange student Son because she happens to be nearby. Son understands basic Japanese and can sing, but communication will prove to be a struggle. They end up practicing, bonding, and playing some pretty cool music. The title of the movie refers to a certain Linda, but no such character ever appears in the film. Linda Linda, or Rinda Rinda (リンダ) in Japanese, is the title of an actual song from the 80s by the Japanese punk rock band The Blue Hearts. This song is the glue of the film, and it. is. awesome. It is the most catchy song I have ever encountered in a movie since Jeanette’s Porque te vas in Cría Cuervos (1976) many years ago. Whenever it popped up, even if only for a few seconds, it just made me smile and hum along.
Punk rock and other recent Japanese gems
The basic premise of the film itself isn’t particularly exciting, but it is really well executed, so the movie gets away with it. The three band members have to deal with losing their singer, bonding with the new one, and practicing their songs all in a very short amount of time. This means that the pressure is on. I liked how the cast members were actual people in an actual band. They released the film’s songs as Paranmaum, which apparently is Korean for Blue Hearts. The new lead singer Son, played by Bae Doona, stole the show for me. Her awkwardness, determination and unpredictability really stood out. I also liked a bunch of strange locations the group ends up in, like the studio of an ex-boyfriend, the roof, a pool, and more. Anyway, not your typical locations for a high school movie.
If we take a simplified look at the history of Japanese cinema, you can identify the post-war golden age, followed by a decade or two of directors doing Yakuza pew pew and Jacuzzi sexy sexy, followed by Anime and finally Hirokazu Kore-eda. But when you search around a little, you will find so many obscure gems from the ’90s and ’00s that really deserve some more attention. So let me just take advantage of the situation and list a few that I have found especially worthy of a Western release*:
* Perhaps some of these have one, I did not look
- 1989 – Black Rain
- 1991 – A Scene at the Sea
- 1995 – Love Letter
- 1996 – Picnic
- 1996 – Shall We Dance?
- 1997 – Suzaku
- 1997 – Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald
- 1999 – After the Rain
- 2001 – All About Lily Chou-Chou
- 2001 – Avalon
- 2002 – Letter from the Mountain
- 2003 – Shara
- 2004 – hana & alice
- 2004 – The Face of Jizo
- 2007 – The Mourning Forest
- 2007 – Adrift in Tokyo
- 2009 – Fish Story
- 2014 – The Little House
- 2014 – Wood Job!
- 2014/15 – Little Forest: Summer/Autumn and Winter/Spring
I’m sure there are quite a few more, and I’d love to hear about them! So far for me the two unsung heroes of this era are Shunji Iwai and Naomi Kawase. Anyway, Linda Linda Linda, one Linda more than the song’s title, for me would be in the top end of this list. It’s a wonderful movie with lovely music and it will give you an earworm for days afterwards. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, but the song can’t be found on Spotify (aww) so that put a dent in my putting it on endless repeat.