LA LA LA AT ROCK BOTTOM
Directed by Yamashita Nobuhiro
Official Selection, 2015 International Film Festival Rotterdam
Official Selection, 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival
Wearing the bruised, dejected face of a stray dog, an amnesiac stumbles onstage at an outdoor music performance. He’s as confused by the show as the onlookers are by his sudden appearance. He may not remember who or where he is, but muscle memory tells him to grab the microphone and bust out a song. And boy can he sing! Despite the ragged looks, his superstar voice impresses Kasumi, a teenage talent manager of a band that happens to need a new vocalist. She takes him in, names him Pooch, and the rest is history!
Or is it? Buried next to Pooch’s musical past is what seems to be a darker, more violent one, and every lyric he sings brings him closer to unlocking secrets that feel more disconcerting the further he digs in. But this is a putting-on-the-show musical, meaning we want to hear him sing, even though we see the pain beneath his brow. LA LA LA AT ROCK BOTTOM tests the pleasures of film song against the countervailing pleasures of character development, and the results manage to soar.
Since Aki Kaurismaki, there has been no director as good as Nobuhiro Yamashita (Linda Linda Linda) at showcasing the deadpan marvel of rock music. He does it with lovable characters like the shaggy dog lead and a headstrong young woman who lives to keep her band together. And he propels the drama with a big-hearted understanding of what songs can do: hold secrets, bring people together, offer a chance at liberation. –Brian Hu