VHS only: Tokyo Pop ***

By Dennis Hartley

(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on January 14, 2012)

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This 1988 film is a likable entry in the 80’s New Wave genre (in the vein of Starstruck, Breaking Glass, Desperately Seeking Susan, Smithereens and The Fabulous Stains). The fluffy premise is buoyed by star Carrie Hamilton’s winning screen presence (Hamilton employs the same mixture of goofy charm and genuine warmth that her mother, Carol Burnett, parlayed into a long and successful career).

Hamilton (who does her own singing) plays a struggling wannabe rock star who buys a one way ticket to Tokyo at the invitation of a girlfriend. Unfortunately, her flaky friend has flown the coop, and our heroine finds herself stranded in a strange land. “Fish out of water” misadventures ensue, including cross-cultural romance with all the usual complications.

For music fans, it’s a fun time capsule of the late 80s Japanese music scene, and the colorful cinematography nicely captures the neon-lit energy of Tokyo nightlife. I can’t help but wonder if Sofia Coppola took inspiration from this for Lost in Translation (at any rate, it makes a perfect double bill). Director Fran Rubel Kuzui later helmed the 1992 film version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sadly, Hamilton died of cancer at age 38 in 2002.

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