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Ghostroads: a Japanese rock’n roll ghost story.
With a title as explicit as it gets, Ghostroads (2017, Mike Rogers, Enrico Ciccu, Les Decidious Jr., and Ken Nishikawa) proposes a classical rock’n roll tale (main character having to decide between fame and friends-band-girlfriend-integrity) and it delivers exactly what it promises on the title; including a storyline similar-paying homage to- the extremely entertaining and an example of a type of movies that aren’t done nowadays due to lack of courage and funds Crossroads (1986, Walter Hill).
Tony is the leader of The Screamin’ Telstars, a weekend rock band with no particular success. Tired of seeing how his archrival, represented by his ex girlfriend and all time sweetheart, becomes a rock legend, Tony burns up and so does his amp. That leads him to the acquisition of a magic amp that carries the ghost of an old bluesman inside. Through him, Tony will compose the best hooks, play the best riffs and amaze with unbelievable guitar solos. The only condition Peanut Butter, the blues ghost of Christmas past, demands is for Tony to get rid of the rest of his band; for good. And so the drama is served.
The film is narrated by a mysterious storyteller that announces what’s to come in each chapter and offers small pills of day-to-day philosophy, and in general it relies more on aesthetic and style than in story (as you’ve probably guessed by now): long music scenes, a non-stopping soundtrack and visual effects that are more effective than visually appealing. My personal view is that is a funny and enjoyable-to-watch movie providing you’re tolerant to low budget productions or homemade filmmaking techniques. As part of the “western audience” of the film, it instantly reminded me (somehow) to the way Tarantino develops some of his stories; the truth though is that Tarantino reminds to Japanese visual story telling because that’s where he gets lots of his trademarks.
Returning to the Crossroads reference, I felt kind of disappointed when the expected guitar duel between Tony and Peanut Butter is resolved in a very rushed and not detailed at all sequence. Having previously established that the actors of the film can play (it is shown in many of the music scenes in the movie), why not make the climactic beat as memorable as possible?