HomeEntertainmentTOKYO POP: Misplaced—And Discovered—In Translation - Movie Inquiry | Acquire US

TOKYO POP: Misplaced—And Discovered—In Translation – Movie Inquiry | Acquire US

Earlier than Fran Rubel Kuzui directed the unique movie model of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 1992 and launched into a prolonged profession as a movie distributor, she made her function filmmaking debut with Tokyo Pop, a colourful romantic comedy about an American singer (performed by Carrie Hamilton, the daughter of Carol Burnett) attempting to navigate Japanese tradition and make it large within the Tokyo rock scene. Co-written by Kuzui with Lynn Grossman and produced by her husband Kaz Kuzui, the movie was critically acclaimed upon its preliminary launch in 1988 however has remained largely underseen since then. Now being re-released by Kino Lorber in a brand new thirty fifth anniversary 4K restoration by Indie Accumulate (funded partially by Burnett and Dolly Parton), Tokyo Pop is a song-filled ray of sunshine that’s greater than worthy of being rediscovered by trendy audiences.

Tokyo Drifter

Wendy (Hamilton, filled with spunk and bleach) is bored with singing backup in male-dominated rock bands in New York, so when a buddy sends her a postcard raving about life in Tokyo, she decides to make a contemporary begin throughout the Pacific. For sure, in an period earlier than cellphone maps and cellular translation apps, Wendy’s sudden arrival in Japan doesn’t go easily, particularly when she discovers her buddy has moved on to Bangkok. She finally ends up bunking down in a goofy hostel for gaijin (foreigners) referred to as Mickey Home and getting a thankless job as a hostess in a karaoke bar—a far cry from the rock and roll stardom she desires of. However when Wendy meets Hiro (Diamond Yukai, showing alongside his real-life rock band Pink Warriors), she discovers an surprising new path to fame and glory.

supply: Kino Lorber

Seems, gaijin singers are all the craze in Tokyo proper now, particularly lovely blondes like Wendy, so pairing her with Hiro is a recipe for fast success. (Their large hit is a corny however undeniably catchy cowl of Do You Believe in Magic.) It additionally sparks an intense romance between the 2 singers, whose mutual attraction and fervour for music overcomes the conflict of cultures inherent of their relationship. Most of the greatest scenes in Tokyo Pop contain Wendy and Hiro navigating that conflict, resembling when Wendy asks Hiro why he by no means talks about himself (“we Japanese by no means speak about ourselves”) and when Hiro takes Wendy on a date to a historic Japanese shrine that, in his obsession with embracing American rock and roll tradition, he failed to understand till seeing it by Wendy’s eyes.

As soon as Extra, With Feeling

Naturally, their second of romantic and musical bliss can not final; quickly, Wendy grows bored with being little greater than a gimmick, whereas Hiro longs to cease protecting English-language hits and sing his personal Japanese-language songs. Nonetheless, their love story leaves an enduring affect on them in addition to the viewers, particularly as Wendy belts out an unique music devoted to Hiro over the closing credit. Hamilton, who handed away from most cancers in 2002 on the far too younger age of 38, has a exceptional display presence that’s matched by her throaty, emotional voice. Her singing is filled with feeling, as is Yukai’s; after they stand collectively on the microphone, it’s all too straightforward to succumb to the gimmick your self. They’re younger and in love, and that radiates from the display; their power is infectious, particularly if you happen to’ve ever felt that means your self and wish to bask within the heat of these recollections.

TOKYO POP: Lost—And Found—In Translation
supply: Kino Lorber

All Wendy desires is to be a rock star, but the one factor that’s able to doing that for her in Japan—her look—tells her live performance audiences nothing about who she actually is as an individual; in one of many movie’s extra hilariously awkward scenes, she’s recruited by a tough rock band to ship a screeching metallic rendition of Residence on the Vary, seemingly simply because she’s an American. The identical goes for Hiro, who assumes that his Japanese audiences have no real interest in listening to a fellow Japanese sing songs about his emotions; they simply wish to watch him mimic different artists they already know. The wrestle of Wendy and Hiro to face out and other than the pack and showcase their actual skills is a common story, even when the actual setting of this story is extremely (and delightfully) particular. The relatability and lovability of those characters are a big a part of what makes Tokyo Pop so partaking; the script’s dialogue feels uncooked and actual, identical to them.

The movie’s new 4K restoration seems fantastic, amplifying the entire vivid lights and daring colours of Tokyo with out excessively smoothing over the grit and grunge of the period. (In spite of everything, who desires to observe a time capsule of late Nineteen Eighties youth tradition that appears prefer it was shot right now?) Each body has one thing to catch the attention, even when it’s simply Hamilton’s outfits—and he or she wears quite a lot of actually cool outfits. I notably cherished the totally different love lodges the place Wendy and Hiro would meet up for trysts; each has an equally extravagant however solely totally different decor, from luxuriously padded headboards which can be match for royalty to neon-hued pornographic pop artwork work. And whereas the dialogue ranges are typically decrease than I’d have appreciated, Tokyo Pop is a movie that thrives in its musical moments—together with a number of cameos from different real-life rock bands—and people sound nice.


Kuzui could have solely directed a few options, however few filmmakers can say they’ve made a film as enjoyable, free, and in the end bittersweet as Tokyo Pop.

Tokyo Pop opens in New York at BAM Rose Cinemas on August 4, 2023, and in Los Angeles on the American Cinematheque on August 11, 2023, adopted by nationwide enlargement.

Watch Tokyo Pop


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TOKYO POP: Misplaced—And Discovered—In Translation - Movie Inquiry | Acquire US Obtain US
Lee Jutton

Lee Jutton has directed brief movies starring a killer toaster, a killer Christmas tree, and a not-killer leopard. Her writing has appeared in publications resembling Movie Faculty Rejects, Bitch: A Feminist Response to Pop Tradition, Bitch Flicks, TV Fanatic, and Simply Press Play. When not watching, making, or writing about movies, she will often be discovered on Twitter obsessing over soccer, BTS, and her cat.

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