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TOKYO POP Restoration Trailer: Fran Rubel Kuzui’s Long-Hidden Gem is Resurrected After 35 Years

Before Lost In Translation and Enter The Void, the lives of Americans in Tokyo were examined in Fran Rubel Kuzui’s feature debut Tokyo Pop. Co-written by Kuzui and Lynn Grossman, it premiered at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival to vast acclaim. Due to its original U.S. distributor going bankrupt, the film never got a full-fledged release, but now, 35 years later, the pop comedy has been restored in 4k and will open in theaters starting August 4. It centers on an American wannabe rock star Wendy (Carrie Hamilton) who hops on a plane to Tokyo with hopes of making it big there and strikes an unlikely bond with a fellow rocker (Diamond Yukai of Red Warriors) whose band is also looking for their big break.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Bleach-blonde wannabe rocker Wendy (Carrie Hamilton) is disillusioned with her life in New York City. After receiving a postcard from Japan saying “wish you were here,” she spontaneously hops on a plane to Tokyo with dreams of making it big as a singer. Quickly finding herself broke and a fish out of water, she moves into a youth hostel for gaijin (foreigners) and takes up work as a hostess at a karaoke bar. Just when she’s at her breaking point, she meets Hiro (Diamond Yukai), a rock ‘n’ roller whose band is looking for their big break. They form a romantic and musical connection and Hiro convinces Wendy to become their lead singer. Through a combination of hustle and luck, they stumble into their 15 minutes of fame, but Wendy soon comes to realize that being a gaijin rocker may be nothing more than a passing fad. An underseen gem of ‘80s American independent cinema by Fran Rubel Kuzui (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Tokyo Pop takes us on a breezy tour through bubble-era Tokyo, replete with knowing nods to the city’s vibrant pop culture.

See the trailer and poster below. In select theaters August 4.

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M.J. O'Toole began writing for HtN in early 2021 during the Sundance Film Festival. An NYC native and lifelong cinephile, his favorite films include Chungking Express, The Three Colors Trilogy, Hiroshima Mon Amour, Lovers on the Bridge, and Midnight Cowboy. He is the Digital Marketing Manager for the agency 3rd Impression - working alongside Editor-at-large Matt Delman - that specializes in digital marketing for independent film. He holds a BA from Adelphi University and a Masters in Digital Photography from the School of Visual Arts. You can check out his portrait and street photography on Instagram.

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