First off, it must be said that The Stardust Brothers have no relation to Ziggy, and nor are they firmly rooted in 80s nostalgia. Instead, what we get in The Legend of the Stardust Brothers (星くず兄弟の伝説) is a movie that’s simply bonkers. In what I found is a sprinkling of inspiration from Spinal Tap, a weighty nod to The Blues Brothers and a zaniness from The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night.
Here, two 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 and all I have to say is that 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 they are performing 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.
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 I heard satirize the music industry and what it means to be a popstar. The stabs are even more pointed with the subtitled translation of this film. For example, I wanted to get up and do the “Time Warp” ala Rocky Horror with half the musical numbers!
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
The Stardust Brothers Trailer