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GS Wonderland

(GS wandârando)
Sponsored by: MusiquePlus

Canadian Premiere

  • Japan 2008
  • 100 min
  • 35mm
  • Japanese with English subtitles
Official Selection, Philadelphia Film Festival 2009

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“[A] wacky time capsule comedy... a spirited and inventive romp” — Matt Prigue, PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY


Director: Ryűichi Honda
Screenplay: Ryűichi Honda, Yuji Nagamori
Cast: Chiaki Kuriyama, Takuya Ishida, Hiro Mizushima, Yosuke Asari
Producers: Yuji Nagamori, Masatoshi Nagai, Tsutomu Soga
Distributor: AMG Entertainment


It’s 1968 and Beatlemania is sweeping the land—the Land of the Rising Sun! Young Japanese are going crazy for GS, or “group sounds,” bands whose bowl-shaped haircuts, pointy boots, matching themed outfits and jangly bubblegum pop-rock music are modelled after John, Paul, George and Ringo, and all the British Invasion bands who ruled radios around the world in the mid-’60s. Any youngster who can play three chords on a guitar is forming a GS band, and they all dream of a prime slot on the stage of the celebrated Nippon Grand Theatre. Miku Ono (Chiaki Kuriyama) certainly hopes for a shot at musical fame, but the GS wave is a boy-band thing, so her chances are slim—until sly music impresario Kajii Ryosuke, finding himself in a bind, convinces her to dress in guy drag and join a struggling band he rechristens as the Tightsmen. Pretty soon, teenage girls are screaming and fainting at the sight of the cute, elfin “boy” behind the keyboard in the band, but while their star is rising, the headaches and hassles are hardly over for the Tightsmen!

A vivid and vivacious revisiting of 1960s pop-music excitement in Japan, GS WONDERLAND joins Korea’s soul-funk sensation GOGO 70S and the Japanese punk-rock period piece SHONEN MERICKENSACK in joyously celebrating the successive waves of rock ’n’ roll in Asia. The colourful, kaleidoscopic GS WONDERLAND in particular has a blast with the details of its era—fabulous wardrobes, hilarious fake promotional footage, pitch-perfect song pastiches, the works!—without short-changing audiences in the storytelling department. It’s also a showcase for the striking Chiaki Kuriyama, an actress whose notoriety was founded on brief, bloody turns in BATTLE ROYALE and KILL BILL. Between GS WONDERLAND and BATTLE LEAGUE IN KYOTO, also on the Fantasia screen this year, Kuriyama proves herself just as comfortable in zany comedy roles. And in the late ’60s, zaniness was plentiful!

—Rupert Bottenberg

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