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All About Lily Chou-Chou
All About Lily Chou-Chou
Actors: Hayato Ichihara, Shgo Oshinari, Ayumi Ito, Takao sawa, Miwako Ichikawa
Director: Shunji Iwai
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2005     2hr 26min

Yuichi is in the 8th grade and worships Lily Chou-Chou, a Bjork-like chanteuse whose music is lush and transcendent ? the perfect tool to escape the pain and anxiety that fills his brutal life in Japan. At home, Yuichi rar...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Hayato Ichihara, Shgo Oshinari, Ayumi Ito, Takao sawa, Miwako Ichikawa
Director: Shunji Iwai
Creators: Noboru Shinoda, Shunji Iwai, Yoshiharu Nakagami, Koko Maeda
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Music Video & Concerts, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Homevision
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/15/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 2hr 26min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 6
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

A shamefully inadequate edition of a seminal work of art
E. BJORNSSON | Iceland | 03/03/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Let me first state that my one-star rating has nothing to do
with the film itself, it is a rating of the DVD. I truly
consider this film, "Riri Shu-Shu no subete", to be one of the greatest works of art ever created in the cinematic medium. I own the Japanese DVD (both the normal and collector's editions), and the British edition as well. I was happy for American audiences when I saw this was finally coming out on DVD in the USA, but I have changed my mind after finally getting my hands on the disk. It is simply awful. The video transfer is ghastly to behold, and as if this weren't bad enough, the audio is even worse.

What can the DVD producers have been thinking? Here we have a
film that is utterly glorious to behold, and even more glorious
to listen to, a film where the music forms an extremely important
part of the whole, and all we get is this crappy disk? The whole
thing looks like it was filmed through a vaseline-smeared fog
(while the original is digitally crisp and clear like a spring
morning), and the music sounds as if is coming from a battery-driven cassette-player that has seen much better days. It makes me sad to the point of weeping, and very angry inside. It is totally disrespectful to the art and care that went into the making of this amazing film. I hope that the cast and crew will never see or hear this edition - I'm quite sure they would be devastated to see how their work has been ruined by the hands of others.

Fortunately, I have the perfectly produced Japanese disks to go
back to. Even the European edition, although far from perfect, is much, much better than this travesty. I confess that I only bought this, because it contains the Japanese "making-of"
with subtitles, because the Japanese original doesn't have any
subtitles and my Japanese is not much good. I was glad to be
finally able to view the "making-of" feature with the needed
subtitles, but here again there was disappointment: why, oh why,
did they have to cut 20 minutes out of this excellent
documentary? I could hardly believe it, because there is no obvious reason for the cuts.

I am going to try my best to forget that this disk exists. It
really hurts to know that many people are going to see this film
for the first time in this edition. It is a thought that makes
me incredibly sad, because this is a film I dearly love, and would like everyone to see in its full and splendid glory.

The Ether has been polluted.

Here's a translation of the first of Lily's songs in the film,
translated from a Japanese translation of the Okinawan:


blue sky
blue sea
blue sky
blue sea
birdsong of the south

when the white flowers blossomed
a girl was born
the girl was named after the flower

blue sky
blue sea
blue sky
blue sea
birdsong of the south

when the white flowers blossomed
a girl was born
the girl was named after the flower

the girl was named after the flower

blue sky
blue sea
when the red flowers blossom
Angels and Monsters
L. J. Anderson | Chicago, IL | 03/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"At first I chalked it up to cultural difference. "Why do I need to watch a film about bad kids in Japan?" I thought. "I was nothing like that; I can't relate to this at all." But I kept watching. The lush colors, the mesmerizing light, the amazing teenage actors all held me in their stories. Then I remembered, yes, this was an awful time...14 years old; insanely alive and confused...I watched the making-of documentary of the internet-novel-turned-film and understood why All About Lily Chou-Chou had won awards from both the 2002 Berlin and Shanghai International Film Festivals.
Youth is so often shot with a Vaseline-coated lens on screen and in memory. We all think we were "good kids." Only in passing do we acknowledge the power of the ages between 13 and 15 for the immense potential for vitality and cruelty. But director and writer Shunji Iwai has created a film that shows children as they have power to be. The story is centered around Yuichi Hasumi, told through his alias, philia, in his BBS-style chat-room "Lilyphilia," devoted to the fictional musician, Lily Chou-Chou. It is the "ether" of her music that enchants him-the life-force or chi that flows through her and into the world by her voice and electronic stylings. Debussy, Satie, the Beatles, and Björk are all said to have a similar ether. Between the subtle electronic score of Takeshi Kobayashi and the classic piano solos of Claude Debussy, I understood ether immediately, and the escapist power of this music within Yuichi's chaotic, bullied life. At the same time, there was no pity for him, or for any other character. All are complexly expressive: not the toothpaste-ad acting we've come to expect from teen actors in America. Frustration and injustice flowed beneath control and rage. Bitterness and unrequited longing linger under the happiest expressions. Strength and courage grow in spite of public humiliation. Admiration and servility cover deep fear and inadequacy. Don DeLillo, in his novel, White Noise, understood this when he wrote, "It is all there, in full force, charges waves of identity and being. There are no amateurs in the world of children." All are swimming in their growing bodies, in their malleable identities, their secrets, intense feelings, betrayals; all in the context of a junior high school. This is not about culture shock. This is not about cultural difference. All About Lily Chou-Chou rewires our memories, makes us see our 14-year-old selves as we were: shifting and spinning between angel and monstrosity.
Incredible movie; terrible DVD
Snallygaster | 03/13/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"That's 5/5 for the film itself and 1/5 for this edition.
First off, this is one of my favourite movies, and while it's not for everyone, I would recommend it unreservedly, because if it works for you then the payoff is tremendous.
However, I must warn against this Home Vision version for a first taste of the film. The transfer to DVD in this version is so awful that it goes beyond mere misjudgement, and debate continues about how Home Vision -- a company with an excellent track record with Asian releases -- could have allowed its release. These aren't subtle differences only noticed by fanatics and cinemaphiles; they're huge. It actually looks like it was booklegged from a theatre with a hand-held handicam. But apparently it wasn't, and that's scary.
With regard to the video, the least serious problem is digital artifacting and loss of detail caused by squeezing a 2.5-hour movie plus special features onto a single DVD. That's a marketing decision, and somewhat understandable.
What's not understandable is the incredible graininess that has somehow been introduced into the film. Or the great reduction in contrast and brightness -- the vivid colours of the original were a trademark, yet now everything looks like it was filmed in late afternoon on an overcast day. Even the colour balance has been changed, so that skin tones have a greyish-blue look -- there are no pure whites left (another trademark). And finally, the picture actually shakes -- this is most noticable during the many scenes of typed text.
For most, this would be bad enough, but for me, the audio is even worse than the video -- the worst attempt at dynamic compression I can remember hearing in a film. Yes, the parts that are supposed to be quiet are way too loud, and the parts that are supposed to be loud are way too quiet, but most annoyingly, whenever there's a song playing it sounds like there's some 5-year old kid rapidly flicking the volume knob up"
One of the Most Disturbingly Beautiful Films of All Time
Nihon ni boku | Shelby Township, MI United States | 12/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"All About Lily Chou Chou, brought to us by genius director Shunji Iwai, is easily one of my favorite movies of all time. I can't tell everyone how ecstatic I am that this movie is finally available to purchase here in the States.

Shown through the eyes of thirteen year old Yuichi Hasumi (played by Hayato Ichihara), an avid fan of fictional singer Lily Chou-Chou, this movie shows the problems associated with the disaffected youth and bullying in modern day Japan. We are witness to such things as broken families, theft, rape, forced prostitution, blackmail and even murder. Things seem to be looking good for Yuichi as he enters junior high and makes a core group of friends, including Shusuke Hoshino (played by Shugo Oshinari from Battle Royale 2); however, after a trip to Okinawa filled with disaster, things change for the worse for everyone. At times it can be shocking, even disturbing, but Shunji Iwai has created a movie so beautiful that you can't help but watch it. The movie was the first film in Japan to be shot on digital film and the level of detail is incredible.

Also starring in the movie are Ayumi Ito from Swallowtail Butterfly (a movie for which she won many awards for) as the musically talented and much lusted after but picked on Yoko Kuno, and Yu Aoi from Hana & Alice playing Shiora Tsuda, a girl with a dark secret.

Don't just pick up this movie if you are a fan of asian cinema. Buy this movie if you appreciate quality films of any kind, and then show it to all of your friends."