22 September 2016 | Ramascreen
We are.. X, We are.. X, We are.. X.
Here's my review of #XJapan new documentary, #WeAreX which I think is a quintessential and revealing look at one of earth's biggest rock bands. With archival footage and in-depth interviews, WE ARE X basically gives the fans access into the personal lives of Yoshiki and his bandmates and their dramas.
Every band has their ups and downs, many still blame Yoko Ono for splitting the Beatles, for example, I'm just one of those who cherish them solely for their music. X JAPAN fans, however, are in a class all by their own. Their commitment to their idols can reach the point of suicide, literally. They're intense, unlike any other.
Now, I grew up in Asia, so I've heard about X Japan, though I didn't grow up a fan of theirs particularly. So when I did meet Yoshiki in person and interviewed him a few weeks ago at this film's press day, o yes, I was very much aware that I was in the presence of a rock icon. The question is how will American audiences receive this film? It's the same question of how will they receive X Japan, I'm guessing they'd be driven by curiosity more than anything else. That's why WE ARE X docu is helpful, it can introduce X Japan's music and story to a whole new region and a whole new generation who may not have been there on other parts of the world in the '80s and '90s.
I think director Stephen Kijak approaches this documentary in a very basic, very chronological way, which I think is a smart move if its goal is to embrace new audiences, you have to start at the beginning and that's what WE ARE X does. Mostly led by Yoshiki, the founder of the band, we get to see how they formed, when Sony signed them, we get to see the personalities of each member and why their vocalist decided to leave, so on and so forth. And all throughout, Kijak incorporates not only X Japan's music but also all sorts of visual that appropriately fits in the moment at hand, especially when dealing with someone like Yoshiki who is clearly philosophical. So what you get at times while watching this film is a series of what can be described as spiritual montage or music videos.
When other rock stars are too busy snorting cocaine and banging groupies, Yoshiki prefers facing existential questions. I lost count on how many times this film mentions the word 'death,' on top of the band going through tragedy after tragedy after tragedy. And because of that, there is something therapeutic and enlightening about watching WE ARE X, even if you are not necessarily a believer. Yoshiki is so deep in his thoughts and so articulate and profound in his speech, that I think he's just as charismatic as John Lennon was. Maybe that's the secret to great songwriting, which is to never stop questioning the mysteries of life and putting all those things down in music and lyrics.
When you watch WE ARE X, it's fun watching X Japan when they were younger with their big colorful hair and crazy lookin' clothes and now that they're older, they're more calmed in their presentation. There's still that visual rock that made them a phenomenon but the spectacle is much more controlled now, and perhaps that comes with age and wisdom.
-- Rama's Screen --