Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Legends of Japanese Rock 'n' Roll Cinema: Iden & Tity

It's been a while since I updated this series. My apologies! I have yet to even touch on some of the best films!

Last December, I wrote a review of Tomorowo Taguchi's recent coming of age film, Shikisoku Zeneration, based on the epinymous novel by subculture icon Jun Miura. What I failed to mention in my review was that Shikisoku Zeneration is actually the duo's sophomore effort. Back in 2003, Taguchi directed the film adaptation of Iden & Tity, a four volume manga series drawn by Miura in the mid 90's.

The movie follows the guitarist in a rock band who is making a major debut. Even with their growing popularity, the guys in the group are still poor, living in small apartments and working menial jobs. The main character realizes that his dream was a disappointing let-down. He has no money, no creative freedom, and feels empty. Eventually, through inspiration from Bob Dylan, he is able to find his creative voice and reconcile his emotions.

A second theme in the story is the main character's turbulent and insecure relationship with his girlfriend. He really loves her, but due to his infidelity and insecurity, he can never make things work out.

These personal struggles make up the honest side of the film. There is no glitz and glam in this movie. On the other side is the idealistic tone which is ever present throughout the story. The main character is haunted by visions of the ghost of the classic 1960's Bob Dylan, who follows him around and communicates with him via harmonica music. Through the language of music (expressed in subtitles), Dylan gives him aphorisms about life, music, and truth, ideals that end up inspiring the main character to be true to himself.

Iden & Tity effectively tells a story that weaves together rock music with life experiences. The film proves to me how something mundane like music has a more profound side. In this sense, this movie left a very strong impression on me. The very next week, I went to the book store and bought the entire manga series. Check back for a review in the future.

Here is the Japanese trailer for the film. Can you spot the phantom Bob Dylan?

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