[Fantasia 2019] The Stardust Brothers are Back and Where to Find Them

25 Jul

null 20By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

The Stardust Brothers has no relation to Ziggy, and nor it firmly rooted in 80s nostalgia. The Legend of the Stardust Brothers (星くず兄弟の伝説) is a movie that’s simply bonkers. I found a sprinkling of inspiration from Spinal Tap, a weighty nod to The Blues Brothers and a zaniness ala The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night. I’m more inclined to say The Monkees, because I watched too much of this television show when I was a wee lad.

Relative unknowns, a crooner Shinga (Shinga Kubota) and a punk rocker Kan (Kan Takagi) from rival pop bands are paired into a hilarious manzai synthpop singing duo. To understand their rise to fame is far too gonzo to make sense of it all. This film is an experience–beginning with a black and white sequence until colour is splashed on screen–about these two parading their music to unimpressed lounge patrons. Where these two are performing now is ironic, and if the audience they are singing to care, I’d be surprised if they get an ovation. As any band will tell you, life after that initial moment of fame is different.

Minami (Kiyohiko Ozaki) of Atomic Promotion can easily be Japan’s answer to Roy Orbison with his musical intro to what the boys are dealing with. We can thank Macoto Tezka (son of the great manga artist Osamu Tezuka) and musician/TV personality Haruo Chicada for the soundtrack to a movie that, at first, never existed. This work originally released in 1985 and to obtain the music, fans have to import it from Japan or subscribe to a service from this country.
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Instead of the typical range of tunes that we would expect (like the varied hits from Duran Duran like “Hungry like the Wolf”), most of the songs we hear satirize the music industry and what it means to be a popstar. Madonna better turn a blind eye to this film. The stabs are even more pointed with the subtitled translation of this film. I wanted to get up and do the “Time Warp” ala Rocky Horror with half the musical numbers, as it was ripe with disco and pop.

We are treated to a cacophony of tributes ranging from Grease to Saturday Night Live to Thriller. To say anymore can ruin the fun–I am glad this work has a new life thanks to a coming release and a sequel of sorts (technically, a remake but set in space) which debuted last year. Both are available to purchase in Japan and a global release by Third Window Films is expected sometime later this year.

In the meantime, the original film can be found playing at film festivals like Fantasia 2019.

4 Stars out of 5


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