Featured Image courtesy of San Diego Asian Film Festival.

Director Shinobu Yaguchi’s latest film “Can’t Stop the Dancing” brought the “Pop!” in San Diego Asian Film Festival’s Asia Pop! 2019 lineup with comedy and music.

The movie opens with an old performance of a man known as Martyn Udea who hypnotises people on TV. It then shifts to the present where office worker Shizuka Suzuki gets the chance to work with popular co-worker Murakami on his latest project. Though she has materials to prepare, her sister leaves Shizuka’s niece Nana to babysit while the sister goes out of town. After finishing work, Shizuka takes Nana to Fortune Land, a place filled with so-called psychics and performers. A small building catches the girl’s attention and the two find themselves in the company of the old hypnotist Martyn Ueda. He offers both of them a special ring along with a session to help them with any problem. Nana asks to be able to dance and sing well since she’s in the school play. The man gladly works his “magic” and the two head back home feeling little change. Shizuka shrugs off the fact that she can’t get the cheap ring off of her finger but realizes his suggestion worked after her co-workers stare at her and the mess she made after her sudden performance. She rushes back to Fortune Land but Martyn is gone due to other men wanting money from him. Shizuka has to find him in order to stop her body from reacting from any source of music.

“Can’t Stop the Dancing” is a very quirky film that entertains its audience when they see the mix of music and comedy. Shizuka gets into strange situations that break from the logical life she lives as part of the Japanese workforce. It brings a clash between those that take up society’s idea jobs and others who go for unique and artistic careers. While many from the bustling city didn’t embrace the music, Shizuka finds those more accepting of the dancing curse. The soundtrack is a mix of different upbeat songs but mostly older ones like their cover of Linda Yamamoto’s 1973 hit “Neraiuchi” (Sharpshoot). The choice of tunes may add more to the fact that Shizuka’s problem has roots in her past. Western fans may not know or understand the lyrics but are sure to feel and see the energy it evokes. “Can’t Stop the Dancing” will give its audience a fun time whether or not they’re fans of musicals.

To see more on the film, check out SDAFF’s webpage. Also check out the organizer PacArts Movement for more information on upcoming screenings and dates for their 2020 festival dates.