The New York Asian Film Festival is celebrating its fifth birthday this year with its largest-ever slate of films: 25 features on just two screens, most of which are making their New York or US debuts. The festival is dedicated to exploring "the latest and greatest movies from Asia," and the 2006 line-up includes works from Japan, China, Korea, India, Thailand, and Malaysia. The festival runs from June 15 to July 1; watch the official website for ticket and showtime information.

Linda Linda Linda was the biggest hit for Japanese rock band Blue Hearts. Even for those who understand only the song's chorus -- predictably "Linda, Linda! Linda, Linda Linda-a!" -- it possesses a catchiness that almost defies logic. As I sit here, fully a week after I heard the song for the first time, I can't remember a waking moment in which I was not quietly singing it to myself. The fact that I'm not remotely annoyed -- let alone suicidal -- is an indication of the song's charm, a trait it has very much in common with the 2005 Japanese film that shares its name.

Nobuhiro Yamashita's Linda Linda Linda is a straight-forward, deliberately understated movie about four girls who form a band for the talent show at their high school's annual Holly Festival. Due to injury and infighting, the membership of the band experiences a shakeup just a few days before the festival: The guitarist leaves with a broken finger, the keyboardist (Kei, Yu Kashii) switches to lead guitar, and a new singer -- a painfully shy exchange student from Korea (Son, Bae Du-na), no less -- is recruited. Lacking the time to rehearse and learn original music, the group decides to perform a set of Blue Hearts covers, highlighted, of course, by Linda Linda Linda. Faced with such a depressingly cliched plot, one could be forgiven for imagining shot after shot of adorable Japanese school girls, mugging cutely and giggling adorably over boys and rock stars. What's so wonderful about Linda Linda Linda, however, is how utterly wrong it proves us.
categories Reviews, Cinematical