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Half Japanese: The Band That Would Be King (1993)

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From their underground days recording songs in their bedroom to their rise as one of rock music's most alternative bands, this documentary chronicles Jad and David Fair's formation of Half Japanese.

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Credited cast:
Byron Coley ... Himself
David Fair
Jad Fair ... Himself
David Greenberger ... Himself
Maureen Tucker
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A documentary covering the rise of extremely alternative band Half Japanese: from the early days when Jad and David Fair recorded loud music in their bedroom for distribution via mail order cassette tape, to their contemporary incarnation after David's departure for married life and Jad's increased stature among musicians and critics. Includes interviews with Jad, David, Mo Tucker of Velvet underground fame, and Penn Jillette, who produced an album of theirs. Written by James Meek <james@oz.net>

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independent film | See All (1) »

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7 October 1993 (USA)  »

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Featured in Visionado obligado: The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2012) See more »

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hilarious but also very touching
14 April 2005 | by See all my reviews

I had heard of the band Half Japanese before seeing this film in the out-of-print Spin Alternative Record Guide, but nothing written about them could prepare me for this amazing documentary. Picture this: two brothers from Ohio get the bug to start a band. Neither Jad or David Fair has any clue as to how to play their instruments, but in 1980, they ink a deal to release a three-LP debut box set from an English label. Over the next ten years, Half Japanese earns enormous accolades, especially among other musicians, ironically. I can't think of how anybody could possibly watch this film all the way through and not come to endear Jad Fair. The best scenes are the interviews with Jad and David's parents ("Our house is the birthplace of punk rock") and a staged interlude where the two brothers explain where why they started writing songs about ghosts and dead pirates. You owe it to yourself to see this movie.


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