Fish Story (2009)

Fish Story (2009) – As Jason Lee said in Almost Famous, “Rock ‘n roll will save the world… (and the chicks are great).” Even though it was said in that movie as a joke, I kind of believe that in a way. Not just rock ‘n roll but music (rock just being my favorite type). Not just music, but literature, cinema, poetry, paintings, sculpture, dance, any kind of art really. As I’ve moved away from religion in my adult life, creativity has more or less taken the place of God for me. Anyway, isn’t that God’s whole deal? Creation? Well, whatever I don’t want to get too much into religious beliefs that I literally made up about a year ago. The point is rock ‘n roll can save the world. (I’m using rock ‘n roll to represent all artistic creation. It’s called synecdoche. I feel clever.) I believe this. The Japanese movie Fish Story believes this.

“Fish Story” is the name of a song by a band in the movie called Gekirin. They were a Japanese punk rock band in 1974, a year before the Sex Pistols and the whole punk explosion. The movie opens in 2012 (which was the not-so-distant future when this movie was made, as opposed to the not-distant-at-all present it is now) and a comet is going to collide with the earth creating tidal waves that will kill us all. One record store is still open. In 1982, a timid man drives two friends who bully him around as they talk about supposedly haunted music, including guess what song. In 1999 the same two bullying friend wait for the supposedly Nostradamus-predicted apocalypse with a cult (the leader of whom walks into a record store in 2012). In 2009 a young college student stays on a ferry too long and meets an interesting young man raised to become “a champion of justice,” whatever that means. In 1975, Gekirin learns that the music business can be a harsh bitch. All of this comes together.

Fish Story is not a great movie. It’s good, but not great. It plays with great ideas though and that is what really gets me fired up to sing its praises. The film can be meandering, but then again I would call that part of its charm. In the end, as I said, it all comes together. Maybe the characters could be a little better defined (a great many of them aren’t even named which, along with a less-than-helpful imdb page is why I have no actor names for you). Then again the characters don’t really need to be all that better defined. They work for what the movie needs them to work for. I don’t really believe in destiny or predestination but I do believe that sometimes things happen in such a way that they could not have happened any other way. Maybe that sounds like the same thing. Maybe it doesn’t even make any sense. I don’t know. Who cares? Rock ‘n roll can save the world. This movie believes that. I believe that.

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