"In Occupied Japan jazz was the pulse of peace" In World War II Japan, jazz was strictly banned as enemy music. Some musicians defied the taboo, sneaking into closets to listen to beloved records, while others silenced the forbidden riffs in their hearts and volunteered as kamikaze pilots. When the Pacific War finally ended, Japan had been reduced to ashes. U.S. Occupation troops streamed into the conquered nation bringing many things with them: democracy, Coca Cola, and ...
jazz. The Occupation brought this uniquely American music back to Japan with vitality and force.Set against the chaos and hope of the early postwar period, Out of This World tells the story of five young Japanese musicians who exchange their weapons for instruments, seizing the chance to play jazz at American military clubs. There, under the watchful eye of a bemused sergeant, they build a grudging friendship with an angry GI, who is also a gifted sax player.
Director Junji Sakamoto explores an era shaped by war and music through the eyes of these young Japanese musicians as they learn to accept their former enemies as friends and to make America's indigenous music their own.
=Mullan and Shea Whigham join a gifted Japanese ensemble.=
Five of Japan's top young actors portray the Lucky Strikers, the jazz musicians at the center Out of This World. Masato Hagiwara, a Sakamoto regular since Tekken (1990), portrays tenor saxophonist and bandleader Kentaro Hirooka. Fresh from the success of Kurosawa Kiyoshi's Bright Future (2003), Joe Odagiri appears as drummer Shozo Ikeshima. Shunsuke Matsuoka , who established a strong presence with performances in T.R.Y.andUnloved joins the cast as bassist Ichiro Hirayama. Jun Murakami
, known for embodying characters with unique worldviews in films such as Nabbie's Love is pianist Akira Ono. Mitch, a professional trumpeter based in New Orleans, makes his film debut as Hiroyuki Asakawa. These talented young actors are joined by Aki Maeda of Battle Royal , Maki Claude of Brother, Sho Aikawa of Dead or Alive , and Ren Osugi of Hana-bi .
Shea Whigham, who made his debut in Joel Schumacher's Tigerland (2000) and won critical acclaim for his performance in All the Real Girls (2003), plays the GI sax player, Russell. Acclaimed actor/director Peter Mullan joins the cast as Jim, the sergeant who manages the Enlisted Men's Club where the Lucky Strikers perform. Mullan received Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for his work on My Name is Joe and won the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion as director of The Magdalene Sisters(2002).
=Jazz standards used throughout the film.=
Under Naoki Tachikawa's deft musical direction, Out of This World draws on dozens of famous jazz standards, Mona Lisa, Take the "A" Train, Sentimental Journey, and Danny Boy, weaving their familiar melodies through the richly textured story. Mr. Tachikawa's previous credits include Zhang Yimou's Raise the Red Lantern and Hou Hsiao-Hsien's City of Sadness. In developing his screenplay, Sakamoto sought advice from Jiro Uchino, the former producer of the Club Shinchugun concert series, which featured performances by Japanese musicians who had played at Officers' and Enlisted Men's Clubs during the U.S. Occupation. In a tribute to the real life musicians, Out of This World's end credits roll over the documentary footage of the final concert in that series.