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The Stratosphere Girl
The Stratosphere Girl
Actors: Jon Yang, Chloe Winkel
Director: M.X. Oberg
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
UR     2005     1hr 25min

Drawing magna-style comics is Angelas passion, but it wont get the dreamy, 18 year-old blonde out of her European hometown. Hungry for adventure, Angela spontaneously takes up the idea of Japanese DJ Yamamoto, whom she mee...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Jon Yang, Chloe Winkel
Director: M.X. Oberg
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: TLA Releasing
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 04/19/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 25min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: Dutch, English

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Movie Reviews

Entertaining comic-book mystery... Excellent DVD from TLA
dooby | 05/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Stratosphere Girl is a fine Pan-European co-production (Germany - UK - France - Switzerland - Italy). The dialogue is mostly in English because much of the action takes place in Tokyo where English is the only common language between the Japanese and Europeans. English may be the lingua franca but it's heavily accented English all round. Some viewers may require subtitles.

Angela, (the lovely Chloé Winkel) a Belgian girl just out of High School, has a passion for drawing comics. From the opening frame she narrates the story, as if recounting the plot of a comic strip, which we actually see her drawing. She meets a handsome young Japanese man who works as a DJ and strikes up a relationship with him. She's bored with life in Europe, so he suggests that she go over to Japan to work as a "Hostess". "Hostesses" in this context are more like lap-dancers. And there is a demand for young Western women to serve as these so-called hostesses. Only too happy for a change, she flies off without telling anyone. She becomes a hostess and is an immediate hit with the lecherous Japanese businessmen. To the extent that the other Western hostesses get jealous of her. She ends up with shards of broken glass in her soup, acid in her shampoo and other catty stuff courtesy of her roomates. But this is nothing compared to the mystery she stumbles upon when she sees a "Missing Persons" poster at the police station. Another Western girl, a Russian known to her roomates, has disappeared. Is it the Yakuza, a white-slavery ring, murder? She decides to investigate. A besotted customer meanwhile supplies Angela with her nickname, Stratosphere Girl, likening her to an angel sent from above. We know from the start that nothing really bad will happen to Angela as she's the one telling us the story. The next question that comes to mind is, is the story for real, or is it all just a fantasy. Some viewers seem to take the movie literally. I prefer to view it as pure fantasy on her part and that works out much better with the twist at the end. The ending might be disappointing for some. But it's perfectly in keeping with the dreamlike tone of this movie.

The DVD is unrated but it would probably merit an R rating for brief nudity, sexual situations, mild language and brief violence. Be sure to stick around through the end credits and you'll come across an offbeat take on the usual animal-rights disclaimer: "No blondes were harmed in the production of this motion picture".

TLA Releasing has provided an excellent DVD transfer in the film's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (enhanced for widescreen TV). Colors are rich and vibrant, especially in showing the garish night-lights of Tokyo. Black levels are suitably deep. Skin tones are just right. The print itself is clean with no dirt or defects. Sound is the original English 5.1 surround with good reproduction of both dialogue and music. Optional English subtitles are provided. I initially played it without subtitles and would recommend it that way to convey the sense of isolation and bewilderment that Angela feels being unable to understand the language (much like in Lost in Translation). But playing it through with the subtitles is also fun because you get to hear what the Japanese businessmen are actually saying to each other about these gorgeous young women. Extras are limited to a Director's Statement, Production Notes and a Stills Gallery. All in all, a pretty entertaining movie if you're in the mood for something different.

Sidenote: Chloé Winkel was a teenage model in Europe before she took on this her first acting role. She has appeared in European editions of Vogue, Elle, Glamour and was also a model for Calvin Klein."
Touched me deeply
retrowrestling | SGV, California | 10/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I rented this movie the day before and just barely got done watching it. I absolutely loved it..I am going to order a copy from Amazon. I am not going to give a synopsis of the movie as a couple other reviewers have already supplied that need. But rather, I would like to share with you the affect this movie had on my senses; and also, I would like to share what I percieved were the ethereal qualities of this most excellent movie.

Being of Asian descent, and having dated women of various ethnicities, I was instantly drawn to the main plot. But more importantly, I was intrigued by the line in front of the DVD.."Sometimes imagination is your only escape." I know the casual observer might percieve the meaning to be that you are "escaping reality" through your imagination. I intensly disagree with this line of thinking. And after reading the director's statement(contained as an extra on the DVD), I was happy to see that he had a very expansive view of the imagination.

I know many will disagree with me, but through my personal self-education(and personal experiences), I've discovered that many a magic can occur through the developement and use of your imagination. Your perceptions of reality and what is or isn't possible will be totally obliterated when you strengthen and expand your imagination. This is an intense movie that dares to utilize its own imagination to create a world that is mesmerizing, beautiful, inspiring, and adventurous.

Chloe Winkel, main actress, is absolutely intoxicating in her portrayel of Angela. As a result, I was in constant captivation of Angela's intense drive to create her "own world" through her drawings and her day-to-day adventures. I have deep respect for Japanese Anime(as well as Manga), so its inclusion as a theme in this movie was really beautiful for me.

Bad things about this movie? Only one for me, it was a little too short. The other thing is in regards to the DVD. I really wish there were a little bit more special features(I guess I am bit spoiled by modern DVD's). The movie runs just shy of an hour and a half. Special features include a Stills Gallery, Director's Statement, and Production Notes.

I understand that this movie will not appeal to the masses. I don't give a crap. This movie will appeal to those in which it needs to appeal to..and for those people, they are in for a treat. I feel more enriched now that I have experienced this piece of art.

"
"The Look Into Infinity" ~ "When One Is Looking For Someth
Brian E. Erland | Brea, CA - USA | 11/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Angela is attending her high school graduation party. While the others are inside dancing and enjoying themselves she sits alone outside drawing. With a world of possibilities awaiting she is saddened by the fact that she is scheduled to start a new job in the morning. Angela longs for adventure and wants to leave Belgium and see the world. A talented young artist, she expresses her inner desires and fantasies in her notebook in comic book format.

Eventually awakening from her revere, Angela joins the other guests and winds up spending the evening with an attractive male Asian from Japan hired as the DJ for the festivities. She shares her longing to travel with him and he suggests Tokyo as a good place to start her adventure. He gives her the name and address of a upscale gentleman's club where she could work as a hostess.

She takes him up on the offer and so her adventure begins. Unfortunately once there she discovers what it's like to be a stranger in a strange land. Finding herself at the mercy of wealthy, powerful men and in competition with aggressive young girls out to earn a living she withdraws further into her fantasy comic book drawings. When Angela learns a girl from the gentleman's club is missing she decides to solve the mystery, making herself the hero and detail the account in her drawings.

'The Stratosphere Girl' is a European film, thus having that recognizable foreign film flavor, stylish and a little slow. However it's in English so if you don't like reading subtitles that's a plus.

If you give this film your full attention it will slowly but surely draw you into its anime inspired Asian-fusion landscape. The sharp, artsy cinematography, creative storyline, smart, insightful dialogue and incredibly beautiful newcomer in the role of Angela (Chloe Winkel) makes for a wonderful viewing experience. I certainly hope Chloe Winkel appears in more films in the future. The one thing I'm not sure of is how well this movie will stand up to repeat viewings. Since I've only watched it once so far I guess that is yet to be determined."
Read the Production Notes First
Chasmodai | 03/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In order to appreciate this film, it's good to know that it was the intention of the director to tell the story through the heroine's perspective - as a young manga cartoon artist, she is experiencing her adventures as anime. This influences how the story is told. She isn't experiencing the adventure the way someone like you or I might. I recommend reading the production notes before watching the film. The first time I saw it, I thought it was a shallow piece of fluff. Then I read the production notes and watched it again, and "got" it the second time.

The heroine flies to Tokyo because she learns of a job as a hostess. She enters a world where the men view these young blonde European women as beautiful objects of fascination and desire, and where competition between the girls might be more dangerous than the attentions of the clients.

In some ways this film reminded me of Tideland. The underbelly of Tokyo nightlife is seen through the eyes of an innocent girl fresh out of high school, and this somehow makes it seem less seedy. It's almost as if her innocence and beauty makes everything around her less ugly. There is also a similarity between the ending of this movie and the ending of Tideland. Watching Tideland if you haven't already, and see if you can see what I mean.

It's worth watching just for its beauty and scenes of Tokyo nightlife.

Another reviewer has commented that the actress isn't very good because her facial expressions are non-existent. I disagree. From the story line, I got the impression that prior to flying to Tokyo, the character's only experience with males was her absent father, some high school teachers and young men her own age. She is out of her league with these sophisticated business men and experienced women, and has practically no understanding of Japanese culture. I interpreted her expression as somewhat shy, self-protective, demure and completely without guile. It sets her apart as being completely different from the other female characters in the movie. Had her facial expressions been less subtle, she wouldn't have pulled it off.

I give this movie five stars not just because it's an enjoyable and beautiful film to watch, but because there is more meaning to it than what is on the surface.
"