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Plot: Life isn't easy for a group of high school kids growing up absurd in Japan's pervasive pop/cyber culture. As they negotiate teen badlands- school bullies, parents from another planet, lurid snapshots of sex and death- these everyday rebels without a cause seek sanctuary, even salvation, through pop star savior Lily Chou-Chou, embracing her sad, dreamy songs and sharing their fears and secrets in Lilyholic chat rooms. Immersed in the speed of everyday troubles, their lives inevitably climax in a fatal collision between real and virtual identities, a final logging-off from innocence. Runtime: 146 mins Release Date: 05 Oct 2001
"all about lily chou chou" begins with a series of manually keystroked chat-room-style statements that introduce facts and ideas, mostly related to mythical pop-star "lily chou chou." this sort of cinematic introduction sounds similar to many other computer-age-themed films, but amazingly the keystroke dialogue between several anonymous internet fanatics continues past the credits and runs through almost the entire movie. the nicely-scripted, brilliantly executed text acts as the backbone that beautifully holds together a story that is ultimately about many things, <more>
including the fragility of relationships and the personas we use based on them, fanatical envy and love contrasted against blind rage and hate, metamorphosis, and technology versus nature.although executed in an arguably confusing manner, consisting of many non-chronological vignettes, the film ultimately succeeds in depicting a modern-day story involving the relationship between two early-adolescent japanese boys, their journey through life and school, their changing identities, and their fascination with and "connection" to the strangely popular musician, lily chou chou. visually, the filmmaking complements the ideas perfectly. the camera is often puerile and shaky when showing the boys' ventures and conversations. at one point, a vacation sequence is depicted solely through excited and dizzying amateur videography by the boys themselves, humorous close-ups of accompanying girls' bodies included. during the non-video portions of the film, the colors are beautifully rich, with verdant fields and saturated skies.the abrupt, but fitting pattern between flowing, dreamlike camerawork, shaky camerawork, textual discourse, and the eerily sensual, fictitious lily chou chou tracks provide a momentum that is both refreshing in its originality but effectively discomforting. by the film's closing the style is not so much regretfully confusing as it is fittingly and fully dramatic, as well as both amazing and beautiful. the film is nothing short of art.lastly, the film did well to keep free of preaching. with much of what goes on in the world today, filmmakers feel social commentary is an added bonus or even a main goal to depicting a narrative. this is not so much a problem until the viewer begins to feel manipulated in a propaganda-like fashion. this film is very much based in a realistic society with realistically harsh and shocking issues and occurrences. however, respectfully, this film does a fine job of depicting its characters and events in a manner that allows for the viewer's empathy without pointing direct fingers or offering direct solutions. incidentally, much of the films drama and marvel comes from this quality.
One of the most breathtaking movies out there... (by lilyholic)
The one agreeable thing that can be said about Shunji Iwai is that he makes beautiful images. Lily Chou Chou is his most recent release and let me state, since someone incorrectly wrote it is pronounced "Choo Choo" it is not, it is spoken "Shoo Shoo" , and one of his most coherent films. For some reason this movie seems to puzzle a lot of people... maybe it is the translation from English to Japanese I watched the movie in Japanese dialog only, so I don't know if they killed it with subtitles or not , but the movie's plot is really not so complicated. If you know <more>
a little bit about Japanese life and culture, the emotions of youth, and devotion to an artist then you can watch this movie and understand it. Even for those who were confused by the plot, another one or two viewing should clear up any misunderstandings. Iwai does have some issues with complicating plot stories, or leaving out plot at all. As a writer he is great, but not perfect. As a director of film and photography he is mind blowing. The images that Iwai creates and displays to the audience are the most beautiful presented. Whether or not the story behind this movie shines to you, the images should be enough to blow your mind. Iwai uses re-occurring themes to present lovely contrasts. He also chose a beautiful selection of music to accompany his film, from Debussy to old Okinawan songs to Lily Chou Chou's own. If you pay attention to the gentle subtleties presented in this film, there is no way you can walk away with your life unchanged. I know this film has changed my life, and has become my main source of inspiration.
One of the most horrifically beautiful movies i have ever seen (by tsuchinoko)
I had the pleasure of seeing this movie alone on a quiet weekday night. I wasn't prepared for the power of this film, and how much it would hurt me and inspire me when i saw it.The film moves fluidly, and seems like a work of art more than entertainment. As we watch we are shown a side of Japanese youth not often seen in such an honest light. This world is shocking and scary, yet there is a comfort in seeing it in such an honest way. Much of the film is short with a music video quality to it, but it is the careful, intimate direction that keeps this film grounded as it shifts from <more>
situation to situation. I will not tell much about the story, since any spoiling of the plot might weaken the effect of the first viewing. I can say that this is truly a rare achievement in film, and it deserves to be seen.
Japan is a culture traditionally built on respect, concern for the other person, courtesy, honesty, and discipline. Recently, however, Japanese schools have become increasingly dangerous places with an increase in violent crimes, breakdown of order in classrooms gakkyuu houkai , bullying and intimidation of weak or delicate students ijime , and a high suicide rate. The dark side of Japanese culture is brought to life in Shunji Iwai's All About Lily Chou Chou, a disturbing look at the life of a junior high school student who seeks sanctuary from the bullying of his classmates through the <more>
music of a pop-icon, singer Lily Chou Chou. Shot on high-definition video, the film opens in a rice field where a sad-eyed young boy stands in the middle of a wide expanse of green. With his headphones on, he clings to his Discman while we hear a soft sensuous voice singing in the background and read the text of Internet messages clicking on the bottom of the screen.The posters are brought together by their love of Lily who, to her fans, is a voice that comes from "the Ether", carrying the status of an otherworldly goddess. The boy's screen name is Philia but his real name is Yuichi Hasumi Hayato Ichihara . He is a slender boy of fourteen whose devotion to Lily is an article of faith in his world of loneliness and nihilism. The communications, based on actual web messages, are revealing of the poster's frame of mind. "Imagine being dead", someone writes, "won't that be great?" Someone else writes that once he got to Junior High School his world went gray. Another comments, "...For me, only the Ether is proof I'm alive. But lately my Ether is running out." Yuichi lives with his mother, a hairdresser, her boyfriend and his son. Left on his own most of the time to deal with his peers, his life is a struggle for survival. He is robbed, forced to perform a sexual act in front of local toughs and humiliated by his teacher and mother when he is caught stealing a Lily CD.In a flashback to their first year at school, fellow student Hoshino Shugo Oshinari , known on the message boards as Blue Cat, reaches out to Yuichi after being ridiculed in school and both join the Kendo club. When Yuichi spends the night at his house, Hoshino introduces him to Lily. Their friendship shifts, however, after a summer vacation in Okinawa full of strange events in which Hoshino is almost drowned and they witness a serious traffic accident. This fifteen-minute vacation segment, saturated with brilliant color and shot by a jerky hand-held camera, contains the film's most unnerving moments, and we instinctively know that the lives of the vacationers will never be the same.In the next school year, shaken by his near drowning and the loss of his family's textile factory, Hoshino undergoes a drastic personality change. He assaults the school bully, Inubushi and becomes a bully himself, forcing Yuichi to become involved in bullying others, robbery, and running a prostitution ring involving one of their classmates, Shiori Tsuda Yu Aoi . Sadly, the adults in the story seem helpless and can only respond in an uncomprehending manner. The only response a teacher has to a girl who had her head shaven was to buy her a wig. Yuichi passively agrees to Hoshino's demands but their friendship becomes increasingly strained when he tells him to follow and watch Shiori, a girl that likes him but cannot express her feelings.Yuichi is also forced to set up an attack on Kuno Ayumi Ito , a gifted pianist and a girl he has feelings for but lacks the self-confidence to communicate with. It is exasperating to see Yuichi passively follow Hoshino's demands, but Iwai has crafted his character so that we can all feel the pain of those who lack the power to stand up for themselves. When Lily comes to town for a sold-out concert, Hoshino assaults his dignity one more time. Unable to enter the concert hall, Yuichi watches Lily's image as her videos appear on the Jumbotron outside the theater and his accumulated tension reaches the breaking point.All About Lily Chou Chou is disjointed and overlong and suffers from some stylistic excesses but it is a courageous film and a deeply moving one, a work that has the courage to confront some aspects of modern-day Japan that you will not read about in the tourist guides. Iwai's breathtaking images together with the poetic music of Debussy capture the adolescent experience in a way that is heartbreakingly real and, although the film's shifting time line may makes the story hard to follow for some, the message comes through with unmistakable clarity. Lily is a film of mood where black is the color and none is the number, but the darkness is redeemed by its appreciation that the solace of art is available to all, even those suffering the most desperate pain.
Rewarding and challenging coming of age film (by J. Harlan)
A harsh, almost 3 hour coming of age film, All About Lilly Chou Chou takes a number of real happenings in Japan-juvenile rape, violence, degradation, murder and pop idol fixation-and throws them together for effect. It centers on Ichihara, the persecuted protagonist who eventually finds himself atop a group of persecutors. He's in adult situations, but doesn't have adult faculties, and any grown-up that could help him escape the escalating sadomasochism of his friends is too clueless or apathetic to help. Ichihara fixates on Lilly Chou Chou, a Marilyn Manson/the Cure/Nirvana/Tori Amos <more>
figure whom he thinks embodies his disillusionment with his unfolding life. When he finds that his best friend/tormentor shares his love of Lilly Chou-Chou, it's too much for him to take.All About Lilly Chou Chou is embedded in the traditional avant-garde belief that film need not being pleasurable to be beautiful or effective. It's a surprisingly graphic film, in fact, in some ways like Van Trier's the Idiots, Pasolini's Salo, or Wedekind's play Spring Awakenings. All About Lilly Chou Chou is beauty that's sought after. By foregrounding the filmmaking process and complicating the line between pain and pleasure, it forces the audience to be repulsed, enamored, whatever. Presenting the film in traditional cinematic language wouldn't do justice to the depth of the narrative. It's a film for catharsis. If All About Lilly Chou Chou has a savior, it's art. Ichihara's passion for Lilly is endless, and his only connection with other people is through her. The director is critical of the cyber-community of Chou Chou followers, all disembodied voices, but acknowledges that this is the only way for these kids to understand themselves and communicate their feelings to others. The cinematography follows this love affair with the healing of art. Beautifully shot on DV, moving from the public to the intimate seamlessly, and capturing subtle moments of transcendence, it's a love-letter to filmmaking. And particularly the abilities of digital filmmaking, which is able to capture the processed, intimate, amateurish and technologically-filtered beauty that most First World children are used to.
I don't know why I bother with Hollywood when there are so many rich projects like this hiding in corners. The problem of course is finding them. The most significant benefit I get from writing IMDb comments is that readers lead me to them. That happened in this case.If you are an ordinary viewer , you probably won't like this. Its yet another dip into high school angst, overly long and structurally a bit too cute.I think you'll have to train yourself to watch films lucidly, but if you do, this will be quite effective. You will fall into it and really be influenced, much more <more>
viscerally than say "There Will be Blood," where there is no path for us to enter the world we watch.The matter of this concerns teen alienation, particularly through how we/they take things that happen and weave them into whatever simple, grand narrative is available usually through commercial pathways. Its a simple chord to strike, but one we all know, both from when we were that age, and from how we live now, which is only a half degree separated.You'll encounter death, teen prostitution, rape. Gang dynamics involving intense humiliation. Clueless adults of course. Sexual drives and identity vacuums of course, but subordinated to the more overwhelming urge to be part of a cosmic story. Usually, we ignore this in film, because sex and role are inherently more cinematic. Less true, but easier to show as true.Its the multiply nested structure that makes it work. The scenes are presented non- linearly. The overriding narrative is not what we see, but a collection of instant messages exchanged among the characters we see. These evoke the images we see, perhaps not as they happened, but as they are recalled. There's an overarching cosmos that these text messages reference, an abstract, perfect world of ethereal dynamics conveyed through a goddess, a girl singer. The slightest nuance from, the smallest bit of news about, the slightest rumor concerning this singer provides ledges for a life, for a whole gaggle of lives bumping up against each other.In the center of this thing, you have a radical departure. All of a sudden, instead of the camera anchored in the test messages, we have a camera rooted in reality. Its literally footage from video cameras from the core teen boys as they go on an exotic vacation to Okinawa. Naturally, the four spindly 14-15 year olds are guided by four of the most appealing older girls in memory. Its colorful, jerky. Full of life, a real, embodied life that by its appearance makes all the rest of the thing seem incredibly sad in its artificiality.Someone knew what they were doing when they put this together. Someone deep and true and of the kind we need more of if we are to make it through. Or do I hang my life on commercially available narrative too?Heh.Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
This is a film that makes you feel more than it makes you think. Combination of poetic images and magnificent music takes you to a new level of emotion. Iwai used emotional space of each characters as well as physical space very well throughout the entire film, it is hard not to make connection with them. This is what the cinema is all about in my humble opinion. Emotions be felt by images and sound.
Stark and sobering look at Japanese youth culture... (by jmaruyama)
When recent footage of Florida teen Victoria Lindsay being attacked by classmates in her home was posted on YouTube, it generated overwhelming public outrage and condemnation. Much debate ensued regarding not only the current state of the youth culture in America but the increasing escalation of teen violence and instances of aggressive bullying particularly "cyber bullying". Nowhere is that more apparent than in Japan, where cases of "ijime" bullying have been extreme and notorious. Every year, there are cases of Japanese teens taking their own lives rather than face <more>
the daily persecutions from their classmates and tormentors which involve everything from physical and emotional abuse, extortion of money, public humiliation and harassment, and even death threats via cellphone or computer email. In recent years schools have tried to take a more aggressive stance on the problem and recent TV J-Doramas, like the powerful "Watashi Tachi No Kyokashou" and "Life" have also attempted to bring awareness to the issue beyond the classroom.Director Iwai Shunji tackles this sensitive subject in his thought-provoking 2001 film "Lily Chou-Chou No Subete" All About Lily Chou-Chou . While the title suggests a film detailing the life of the movie's fictional enigmatic and ethereal songstress Lily singer Salya , the film's actual focus is on childhood friends Shusuke Hoshino and Yuichi Hasumi portrayed by Oshinari Shugo and Ichihara Hayato junior high school classmates in the Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture. Their aimless and mischievous days are spent in the committing of various acts of petty theft, often instigated by Hoshino they steal some company bonds from a sleeping old man and shoplift some CDs from a bookstore to sell back to a local pawnshop . It is at this pawnshop that Hasumi encounters a billboard poster publicizing one of the aforementioned singer Lilly Chou-Chou's CD albums. Enamored by the poster, he takes it home with him and quickly discovers the singer's website "Lilyholic", a site devoted to the singer and her eclectic brand of "etheral" music French Impressionist composer Achille-Claude Debussy and flamboyant Icelandic singer Bjork are named as kindred spirits . Lily's music touches Hasumi in a way that nothing has before and his now hopeless life begins to take some meaning and he develops an almost religious devotion to her music. Yet this happiness soon gives way to a number of hardships. Hasumi is called out by Hoshino and then humiliated and forced to masturbate in public by Hoshio's older friends. He also suffers the trauma of having his beloved Lily CD destroyed by the bullies.We also come to know more about Hoshino's life. While he is blessed with a relatively happy home life with a pampering young mother played by the fetching Inamori Izumi , a good reputation at school and an active social life with the school's Kendo club, he still can't seem to find much happiness in life.Stealing money from an attempted mugging incident, Hoshino decides to go on a trip to Okinawa with Hasumi and other friends in an attempt to find some sort of spiritual awakening. However, after a near drowning incident and witnessing the suicide attempt of a fellow friendly traveler, he becomes a completely different person. Nihilistic and coldly indifferent to life he soon orchestrates a number of cruel and humiliating acts on fellow classmates - he arranges to have honor student and piano protégé Kuno Yoko Ito Ayumi raped at his father's abandoned factor and coerces another student, Tsuda Shiori Aoi Yu into "enjo kosai" arranged dating for money .Hoshino however gets his comeuppance when he cheats Hasumi out of his beloved Lily concert ticket and meets a grim if not tragic end at the hands of his former friend. "All About Lily Chou-Chou" shares a lot of its dark tone with Larry Clark's controversial "Kids" and similarly themed "Bully" movies. Like those movies, Iwai's film portrays adolescent life as being very unforgiving to some especially those who seem weaker and/or different.While Iwai's masterful direction, inventive storytelling and intricately complicated script makes the movie an interesting experience, it is the superb performances from the young cast that are indeed the standout.Oshinari Shugo Battle Royale II, Aoi Haru gives a compelling performance as Hoshino. He is certainly a hateful character but he is also a somewhat tragic figure and we can only feel sad to see his character's gradual decline from good natured albeit manipulative tough boy to violent, domineering thug. Ichihara Hayato's Niji No Megami, Ju-On 2 performance is also equally multi-faceted. His Hasumi in no atypical "emo" character but rather a tortured soul wanting to find some sort of purpose in life. Lily is his "goddress/muse" and her songs act as his "bible" to understanding and dealing with an uncertain world. Aoi Yu Gaichu, Hana & Alice delivers another great performance as ill-fated Tsuda Shiori. Aoi has a special knack at making her minor roles standout and that is again the case here. Ito Ayumi's Swallowtail & Butterfly, Curtain Call performance as Kuno Yoko is also quite impressive. Ito does admirable work here and it is all the more amazing when one learns that she played all her own piano performances and spent several weeks mastering Debussy's complicated "Arabesque No. 1", one of the song highlights of the film.Cinematographer Shinoda Noboru's beautiful digital camera work was absolutely breathtaking and added an almost dream-like quality to the story. "All About Lily..." is sometimes confusing in its non-linear approach to storytelling and in its novel use of BBS chat inserts that help move the narrative but the somber tone of the film along with the cautionary look at bullying, obsession and indifference deliver a stark and powerful message to the viewer.
frightening snapshot of Japanese youth (by andre-71)
The story of this film is catching. Aa a European the portrayed types of behaviour patterns seemed unusual to me. Throughout the movie I was curious about how it would end. I admit, though, that there are some scenes which unnecessarily prolong the film. And that's not too pleasant after you have passed the second hour of it. At the end I was not able to match the internet characters with the real ones, but I guess this was intended. So, I was really involved with the story, but I would have wished for a slightly shorter picture. Still, I vote 8/10.