Peter Mullan ~ Screen Caps ~ Out of This World

Synopsis is from here. It is 1947, two years after Japan's defeat. In Tokyo, a city still emerging from the ruin of war, a group of young musicians gather outside a train station carrying whatever instruments they've been able to scavenge. They want work playing jazz at Occupation clubs, and it's hard to know which they need more, the money or the music. Some of them barely know their instruments, yet they frequent the station day and night, hoping for work. When the military transport arrives, they clamor for the booking agent's attention eagerly jumping aboard the trucks as he assigns them to Occupation clubs. Among those selected are Hirooka Kentaro (Hagiwara), a former tenor saxophonist with a Japanese Army band; ex-Army band bassist, Hirayama Ichijo, aka-Joe san (Matsuoka); pianist Oono Akira (Murakami); trumpeter Asakawa Hiroyuki (Mitch); and would-be drummer Ikeshima Shozo (Odagiri). Shozo has never actually touched a drum kit in his life, but a gig at a jazz club would earn him unheard of sums and he's thrilled at his luck.

At last, the musicians arrive at an Enlisted Men's Club. It's an exciting place with a jukebox that blares unfamiliar tunes. A buffet in the dressing room overflows with strange provisions; coca-cola, hamburgers and ice cream. The joint mirrors America in all its glory and excess. Overwhelmed by their former enemy's culture and music, Kentaro and the other players name their band after a stylish brand of American cigarettes, the Lucky Strikers. Their only audience is American soldiers. Not only do they hail from the land of jazz, but they also regard the Japanese with some contempt. The players' jobs hinge on the favor of Irish-American club manager Sgt. Jim O'Brien (Mullan). The booking agent cautions them never to play Danny Boy. Jim's only son Danny died recently, and the song reminds him of the boy.

Russell Reade (Whigham) arrives on base. A young GI who lost a brother in the war, he is bitter towards the Japanese. Plagued by nightmares about killing Japanese, he's a talented tenor sax player who sees the Lucky Strikers as hacks. A tense rivalry develops between Russell and Kentaro, culminating in a confrontation over Danny Boy. The Lucky Strikers are thrown off the base and their personal problems start to interfere with the band. Shozo, whose parents survived the Nagasaki bomb can no longer stomach playing for Americans. Joe-san fights opposition from his brother. Hiroyuki descends into drug addiction. Akira is consumed by the search for his lost brother. The Lucky Strikers dissolve and each goes his own way.

>Then tragedy brings them back together when Russell discovers Hiroyuki lying on a bathroom floor, dead of an overdose. As they share memories of Hiroyuki, Russell is transformed. The Lucky Strikers are together again, and this time Russell is with them. Then war returns. It is 1950 and American soldiers are shipping out to Korea from bases in Japan. When it's Russell's turn, he leaves behind "Out of This World," a song he's written for the band...