CINEMA: Super Happy Japan Rock Fun Time!

Between “The War” and “Dancing With The Stars,” anyone leaning toward the “total nerdbucket” end of the cultural scale will be at home in front of the ‘tube tonight. No worries, that just means more room for you at the International House, which at 7 p.m. shows the rare 1968 Japanese rock film Go Forward!


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BY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC

The Beatles are so ubiquitous 37 years after their break-up that their music finds ways to wriggle into your life whether one invites them or not. So where can a fan go after they’ve worn out their records and the heels on their Beatle boots? Tonight you can go to Japan via the International House and see how the Liverpool Sound swept that country with a screening of the ’68 musical romp Go Forward!, featuring the very Fab Four-esque Spiders. captains.jpg
The Beatles invaded Japan in July of 1966, and before long bands like The Mops, The Tigers and The Happenings Four were growing their hair out and wearing matching outfits while harmonizing over their Rickenbacker guitars. They called the movement “Group Sounds,” and The Spiders were among its most successful practitioners.

Go Forward! catches The Spiders in all their manic glory, on tour in Japan while two sets of nefarious spies are in pursuit, looking for a priceless gem glued to the band’s tambourine.? Shades of the Beatles’ film Help!,?but director Kunihiko Yakamoto is no Richard Lester and the film’s direction is pretty static where the Beatles’ vehicles are effervescent.? Helping to distract is the Gilligan of the band, Masaaki Sakai (later to star in the international cult TV show “Monkey”), whose jaw frequently falls slack in confusion as he chases skirts with that tambourine dangling around his neck.? Corny as hell, yet it’s mostly forgiven once the seven-piece band plows into British-Invasion-Meets-The-Ventures-inspired hits like the delirious “Ban Ban.”? It all makes for some strangely exotic comfort food for ’60s rock fans who think they’ve seen it all.

Sweetening the deal, after the film Group Sounds revivalists The Captains will make ’68 jump off the screen as they perform a live set. The band is visiting the U.S. from Japan for the first time, and have promised matching Sgt. Pepper-style outfits and frugging mini-skirted dancers. If their latest release, Last Group Sounds, on the Philly label Tokyo No, is representative, they’ll bring a Hives-like energy which, if not modern, is at least timeless.

Go Forward!, followed by live performance by Japanese band The Captains.

Co-presented by Eric Bresler of Tokyo No and Joseph A Gervasi of Exhumed Films7 p.m. tonight at the International House, 3701 Chestnut St.

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