Half Japanese: The Band that Would Be King - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Half Japanese: The Band that Would Be King Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ February 23, 2012
I enjoy Half Japanese, but this documentary irked me. The film does a much better job of showing what smug snobs Byron Coley and Gerard Cosloy are than showing why anyone should believe Half Japanese is so uniquely brilliant. So much time spent on taking potshots at the major-label devil, and heaping ridiculous hyperboles on the band's untouchable supremacy...I don't think Coley and Cosloy are even serious, most of the time. What a waste.

The film barely details the group's recording or touring history, scarcely explores the relationship between the Fair brothers and includes no talk of lyrics beyond glibly saying the band only writes love songs and monster songs. It also repeatedly touts the group's lack of musicianship and training, while totally ignoring that most of the music heard indeed does have mundane things like notes and chords and rhythms.
½ August 11, 2011
What they lack in ability, they certainly try to make up for with innocent enthusiasm.
June 21, 2011
fuck the beatles, half japanese are the greatest pop band ever.
April 19, 2011
Great Documentary of an inspiring avant-grade band.
½ April 18, 2011
much like spinal tap...... pretty silly.
Super Reviewer
March 11, 2011
What starts out as a documentary about the band Half Japanese, gets a little distracted around the middle portion, then gets back on focus towards the end. Half Japanese started in 1977 by two brothers David and Jad fair, who couldn't play their intruments but had their hearts and minds in the right place and would eventually carve a niche in independent/alternative rock for themselves. Personally I like their first album, Half Gentleman/Half Beasts the best. One critic in this film compares it to the John Coltrane/Rashied Ali album Interstellar Space, and I do agree with that comparison to a certain degree, the difference being that Coltrane and Ali were both expert musicians playing at the top of their game,and Half Japanese were just two young kids making some good noise. I like both albums equally and the end result's are very similar. Just goes to show that it's really about passion not technical proficiency, and both albums had plenty of it. The middle portion of the film gets distracted a bit and starts examining why a band like Half Japanese can't be truly successful in the major label/MTV sense of the word, and we see a lot of HJ fanatics bash the majors and MTV for a good 20-30 minutes. No real complaints from me there. Nothing would please me more than to see MTV and the majors burnt to the ground, but it does feel slightly out of place. Then again perhaps the filmmakers where trying to make a statement on the commodification and standardiztion of Rock n Roll, and music in general, and were using HJ as center piece, as opposed to a straight documentary about HJ. The film does go back to focusing on HJ themselves towards the end though. All in all a very good documentary centering around an underrated and important band, who more people need to check out. While my musical preferences tend towards the noisy and bizarre, the band did eventually evolve into a more than acceptable indie rock band, and their later material reminds me of Lou Reeds solo work in a lot of ways. Could be mainly Jad's vocal delivery, but thats what came to mind for me. Recommended.
December 4, 2009
A weird but often hilarious documentary about an equally bizarre band started by two over eccentric brothers Jad and David Fair, who made radical but honest music on their own terms without ever knowing how to play a note. If you're into outsider music, or if you're interested in oddball characters check this out. A pair of anti heroes like you've never seen.
April 29, 2008
one million kisses for one million girls. I didn't know Penn Jillette was into punk rock.
April 11, 2008
half serious? It starts a little slow but hang on it's worth it!Don't miss the videos!
November 29, 2007
Real rock and roll. Watch it.
November 12, 2007
took us awhile to realize this rockumentary was for real
October 24, 2007
i saw this again recently after seeing them play together for the first time ever. the Fair's are awesome but some of the talking heads did not age well with time.
August 20, 2007
Sometimes, it seems like this is more mockumentary than rockumentary. But, if you've ever heard or seen Jad Fair and Half Japanese live, you know that's the point.
July 9, 2007
How great is Jad Fair?!?
June 11, 2007
Brilliant brothers, and their parents and the lovely Maureen Tucker have such trenchant and correct things to say about them. It's like two Daniel Johnstons (although, given Daniel's size these days, it might require THREE Fair Brothers to equal Daniel).
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