‘The Legend of The Stardust Brothers’ or — A J-Pop Version of ‘Phantom of The Paradise’?

The precise moment we realise we have just fallen in love is an intense experience. It’s usually why we distinctly remember when it has occurred. This happened to me last night during ‘The Legend of The Stardust Brothers’ (1985) when I noticed the shift in my feelings towards the film had suddenly changed from enjoyment to full-blown love. Is this why I started crying? That was not the response I was expecting to have to this movie at all!

‘The Legend of The Stardust Brothers’ is super crazy but also super easy to sum up — it’s a J-pop version of Brian De Palma’s ‘Phantom of The Paradise’ (1974) which, personally speaking, sounds like the best idea for a movie ever concocted. Throw in ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ (1964) and you’ve got ‘The Legend of The Stardust Brothers’.

It’s the typical rise and fall of stardom story as we follow the two brothers on their quest for fame whilst shadowy corporate and government forces conspire and manipulate behind the scenes. All this is told through a rapid succession of some of the most ridiculously infectious and catchy pop songs you’ve never heard and with all the numbers doing a surprisingly good job of pushing the narrative forward.

But it’s the imagination and invention (which is impressively consistent throughout) of director Macoto Teduka that gives ‘Stardust Brothers’ the giddy sugar-rush of eye-ball dazzling delight. What’s more, Teduka might be openly riffing on De Palma’s musical (‘Stardust Brothers’ is dedicated to Winslow Leach) but Teduka very quickly makes his feature its own thing, although ‘Phantom’ fans will spot the several nods.

It’s not all crazy mayhem though with Teduka also knowing when to reign in the excess and keep the camera focused purely on the performance without cutting away, something he does frequently, allowing the actors to really sell their moment. The best example of this, and possibly the funniest moment in an incredibly funny movie, is when Stardust Brother Shingo tumbles on stage drugged-up to the max and bursts into what can only be described as a rousing German Schlager number that has to be seen to be believed. So far it’s easy out in front as funniest moment I’ve seen in 2020 so far.

The film careens along to an ending that I can safely say in total confidence you will NOT see coming in a billion years and is so outrageous that not even De Palma himself would’ve risked it. Yet it’s a spectacular piece of craziness that feels oddly appropriate in such an unrestrainedly crazy movie. Either way, your jaw will hit the floor with a deafening crash.

I absolutely fell for ‘The Legend of The Stardust Brothers’ big time. I’m a huge ‘Phantom of The Paradise’ fan anyway so this was an easy one for me to fall for but the fact that Teduka’s film not only compares favourably to De Palma’s work but also manages to jive to its own distinctive groove simply makes it even more lovable.

And the precise moment when I knew I’d been smitten by this movie to the point of tearing-up? During the song ‘Marimo’s Feelings’. The Stardust Brothers are late for their big gig and the excited crowd are fired-up and waiting for them. To buy time shy Marimo is thrust on stage and told to perform a song and what follows is possibly the most adorable, insanely cute number imaginable that it cut straight through me to the point I had tears in my eyes it was that sweet. I’m crying at ‘The Legend of The Stardust Brothers’?! Oh well, I guess I had just fallen in love.

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Comedy writer, radio producer and director of large scale audio features.

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Colin Edwards

Comedy writer, radio producer and director of large scale audio features.