Linda, Linda, Linda (2005) dir. Nobuhiro Yamashita
This film centers around a group of high school girls who have three days to put together a band to perform at their school’s cultural festival after their lead guitarist and singer quit. The spunky narrative hums along vibrantly as the girls struggle to get their band together for the big event. Yamashita does a tremendous job of evoking the raw emotions of the high school experience. And has so much fun with them. The anxiety of love, the anxiety of fitting in, the anxiety of needing to achieve – it’s all there. Being an art school brat, this story resonates with me more than others. The best high school movies, like Kazan’s ‘Splendor In The Grass’ and Lucas’ ‘American Graffiti’ for example, pull off the tricky job of portraying the experience as it happened in the moment and also how it would become once filtered by the passage of time. I believe Yamashita accomplishes this here. This film is also shot and paced in a timeless manner. It’s not loaded down with the gimmicky editing tricks or the over stylized camera moves of its time.
Doona Bae’s breakout performance is one of foppish uncertainty and well timed awkwardness. But she’s a team player. Like the band in the film she knows she’ll only look good if she lets the others shine as well. This is not only one of the best films I have ever seen but also one of the best theatrical experiences I have ever had. I had the honor of having my work screened as part of the Rotterdam International Film Festival in 2005. An unforgettable time. I saw many films and met incredible people from all over the world. But sitting there in the theater with a multi-cultural audience and watching this film was a different kind of magic. This was the first time that I really became aware of how connected the human experience is. I was in the Netherlands watching a Japanese high school pop punk flick with people from Russia, Iraq, France, China…and the themes of the film were universal to everyone sitting in that theater. I became acutely aware of how so many people rob themselves of enriched lives by never watching or reading the works of other cultures and never discovering how really alike we all really are in this world. It is that collective experience that holds us together and ultimately what can save us. But only if we embrace it. When the girls took the stage at the end of the film and tore through the Blue Hearts’ hit single ‘Linda, Linda’, Linda’ like they wrote it themselves the audience cheered and I cried because it was all too much and I’m totally cool with people knowing that.