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When you think about Japanese Cinema, you may conjure up images in your mind of Yakuzas, Samurais, Ghosts, Animated characters, and generally violent and/or twisted material. If you know Japanese cinema more, you also know that there are some very good dramas there. One thing you might not expect though is a sweet, feel good movie, with great Jazz music.
A bunch of High-school girls trapped in catch up summer school are offered to skip their lessons if they join the school's Brass band. At first, the music is of course an excuse to not study, but slowly, the girls are taking to it quite well and will conquer all odds to buy themselves some instruments and join a summer contest to show their stuff. Will their enthusiasm and spunk help them win over their more experienced opponents? Of course!
The story of the underdog misfit conquering all obstacles to succeed is nothing new, and recent examples of the genre have generally been bland and cliched at best. To make such film interesting, you have to have more than just the act of conquering the odds. The entire package has to be catchy. For examples, characters have to be interesting and fun; the film has to have great exciting moments; you have to laugh and feel for the characters. Then of course, you need a great cast. It's all in the execution, and this film has plenty of it all. Seeing a bunch of brat Japanese school girls, all in uniforms, taking to Jazz music and making it is really a lot of fun. The film is brilliantly written with lots of details that will make you laugh. It's a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, culminating in a grand music finale that is guaranteed to get you on your feet and dance.
That finale sums up the film's simple brilliance with tongue-in cheek moments, many smiles, great Jazz music, top performances from all the girls, many of whom actually learnt how to play their instrument to lend the musical moments more realism. The camera work and editing are both fantastic and make the whole affair so dynamic and vibrant. This is a great film for the entire family and you should be able to find it at your local Asian DVD store, although all i have seen so far are Region-3 editions, so you'll need a multi-region player.
- Laurent Hasson