Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 28, 2023 7:37 pm 
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Youth, love-longing and a cult band

This charming, delicately melancholy film is extremely Japanese. Every conversation is a symphony of things half said or unsaid, and the more touching for it. This is about music, about dreams of fame, of fetishizing a cultish favorite band. It all revolves around two high schoolers, Ibuki (An Ogawa) and Jun (Takuma Fujie). Jun, with attention-getting long bleach-blond hair, is a guitarist. They are in Nagoya. He has just come from Tokyo when they meet, after a bad experience. A band, seeking commercial success, has sought to expel him, and his refusal to leave has led to a fight and expulsion from school.

Jun now lives with his grandfather, an old music fan in a hip T shirt with a lovely immaculate antique Fifties Jaguar, which he allows Jun to drive.

Ibuki has faith in him, and they quit high school and live together. It's not so much what happens, though, as how it happens. Plastic, Miyazaki's third film, is directly inspired by musician Kensuke Ide’s eclectic concept album "Contact from Exne Kedy and The Poltergeists," which imagines the existence of a fictional 70s glam rock band of the same name. The idea of a message sent out into space that takes 25,000 light years to get there becomes a metaphor for longing.

Was there anything behind Jun's grand schemes and boasts of being on the verge of recognition? Anyway, when he and Ibuki live together away from family support and he gets jobs that pay poorly, he has no time or inspiration for music. "Plastic" refers to a scheme Jun and a friend try to grow and sell those microorganisms or enzymes that reputedly consume plastic. At this point Jun loses the bleached hair for a while and it's slicked back and black.

Ibuki and Jun originally connected because both idolize Exne Kedy, a 70's glam rock band (inventeed based on Ide's concept album), and long for its return. Leaps through time lead to the breakup of Ibuki and Jun, and jump into covid, with a series of three sequences set in three Augusts in this period. They have broken up, but he thinks of her, and when he calls her, even late at night, she answers.

It's wonderful what rich material Miyazaki weaves from trifles. A particularly good scene shows Jun noodling on an electric guitar. He keeps setting it aside to text Ibuki, He calls her outside and mid-conversation says "Are you there, Ibuki?" And she says she is and asks, "Are you there, Jun?" Just "Hello?" seems like a declaration of love, or love-longing. An hour in, sudden news of Exne Kedy’s surprise 50-year reunion re-invigorates their connection.

In interview by Natalie Ng in [url=""]Filmed in Ether[/url] with Miyazaki shows how he understands the themes Plastic delicately interweaves in this touching portrait of youth that shows "what it means to be young and confused, how the bands we love as young people shape us," and "music’s powerful ability to bring people together."

Kensuke Ide's music throughout helps define the film.

Plastic, 104 mins., premieres in Japan Cuts, New York. Showtimes:
Friday, July 28, 2023
9:00 pm Q&A with director Daisuke Miyazaki.


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