All About Lily Chou-Chou
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Yuichi is in the 8th grade and worships Lily Chou-Chou, a Bjork-like chanteuse whose music is lush and transcendent the perfect tool to escape the pain and anxiety that fills his brutal life in Japan. At home, Yuichi rarely leaves his room, spending all his time in the chat room of Lily Chou-Chous fan website, but little by little, the reality of Yuichis offline life becomes unbearable when he is ensnared in a nightmare of teenage prostitution, petty theft, and possible murder. A hauntingly poetic story in the vein of Battle Royale, All About Lily Chou-Chou is a disturbing look at the terror and isolation that characterizes todays youth of Japan.
The pain and suffering of junior high is always good movie fodder, and in All About Lily Chou-Chou the topic gets an unfamiliar and moody airing. Director Shunji Iwai takes a discursive, sometimes baffling look into the life of a bullied kid whose misery is broken by his worship of a pop star, Lily Chou-Chou. Internet chat room exchanges punctuate the film's narrative, as Yuichi and his anonymous Lily-philes share their intoxication with the "Ether"--the mystery of life that Lily's voice somehow illuminates. The film's style (and length) offer little in the way of traditional movie-watching pleasure, and the mystifying storytelling will have some viewers giving up in exasperation. Still, the portrait of adolescent loneliness rings true, and the ferocity of school bullying is laid bare. On the latter subject, this film is a little like the kill-or-be-killed apocalypse of Battle Royale, without the fantasy overlay. --Robert Horton
- Making of Documentary
- Director biography and filmography
- Trailer reel
- Essay by director Shunji Iwai
- Music Video: "Wings That Can't Fly"
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Top customer reviews
Shown through the eyes of thirteen year old Yuichi Hasumi (played by Hayato Ichihara), an avid fan of fictional singer Lily Chou-Chou, this movie shows the problems associated with the disaffected youth and bullying in modern day Japan. We are witness to such things as broken families, theft, rape, forced prostitution, blackmail and even murder. Things seem to be looking good for Yuichi as he enters junior high and makes a core group of friends, including Shusuke Hoshino (played by Shugo Oshinari from Battle Royale 2); however, after a trip to Okinawa filled with disaster, things change for the worse for everyone. At times it can be shocking, even disturbing, but Shunji Iwai has created a movie so beautiful that you can't help but watch it. The movie was the first film in Japan to be shot on digital film and the level of detail is incredible.
Also starring in the movie are Ayumi Ito from Swallowtail Butterfly (a movie for which she won many awards for) as the musically talented and much lusted after but picked on Yoko Kuno, and Yu Aoi from Hana & Alice playing Shiora Tsuda, a girl with a dark secret.
Don't just pick up this movie if you are a fan of asian cinema. Buy this movie if you appreciate quality films of any kind, and then show it to all of your friends.
First off, this is one of my favourite movies, and while it's not for everyone, I would recommend it unreservedly, because if it works for you then the payoff is tremendous.
However, I must warn against this Home Vision version for a first taste of the film. The transfer to DVD in this version is so awful that it goes beyond mere misjudgement, and debate continues about how Home Vision -- a company with an excellent track record with Asian releases -- could have allowed its release. These aren't subtle differences only noticed by fanatics and cinemaphiles; they're huge. It actually looks like it was booklegged from a theatre with a hand-held handicam. But apparently it wasn't, and that's scary.
With regard to the video, the least serious problem is digital artifacting and loss of detail caused by squeezing a 2.5-hour movie plus special features onto a single DVD. That's a marketing decision, and somewhat understandable.
What's not understandable is the incredible graininess that has somehow been introduced into the film. Or the great reduction in contrast and brightness -- the vivid colours of the original were a trademark, yet now everything looks like it was filmed in late afternoon on an overcast day. Even the colour balance has been changed, so that skin tones have a greyish-blue look -- there are no pure whites left (another trademark). And finally, the picture actually shakes -- this is most noticable during the many scenes of typed text.
For most, this would be bad enough, but for me, the audio is even worse than the video -- the worst attempt at dynamic compression I can remember hearing in a film. Yes, the parts that are supposed to be quiet are way too loud, and the parts that are supposed to be loud are way too quiet, but most annoyingly, whenever there's a song playing it sounds like there's some 5-year old kid rapidly flicking the volume knob up
Most recent customer reviews
friends Shusuke has a near death...Read more
overly-long and utterly confusing.