Friday, December 21, 2012

ANI-MOVIES, *Millennium Actress

From the late director Satoshi Kon is this bittersweet look at the life of a Japanese actress, as her history and past roles blend together into a compelling story. Kon is mostly known for doing psychological titles like Perfect Blue, Paranoia Agent, and Paprika. However, despite bending the laws of reality as much in his other works, this one reaches out on a sentimental level.

Starting off in modern day, Genya is a director making a documentary on the demolishing of a famous Japanese movie studio, and interviews the belle of the movie set, Chiyoko Fujiwara, who is now a reclusive elderly lady. She recalls when she was a young girl and scouted by an up-and-coming movie director to be his latest star. Before her mother consents to her taking up a movie career, Chiyoko befriends a handsome artist who is on the run from the government for being an activist. He gives her a key and promises to see her again sometime. Chiyoko then sets out to be an actress mainly in the hope to find him somewhere while travelling Japan from set to set. While she conveys the details of her search during the interview, it begins to incorporate parts she played in various movies. She goes from being a samurai princess, a ninja, a geisha, and more, all the while only running into the artist once while he's still on the run, and is finally confronted by an officer who has been "Zenigataing" him this whole time. She later learns from him that the artist was captured and tortured to death. Chiyoko then goes on a long running sequence(one of film's several ones)which leads to her remembering her last role as an astronaut who continues to pursue her true love even into the stars. In reality though, she passes away of old age, but reaches a final sense of conclusion when Genya returns her key to her that had been missing for decades.

Satoshi Kon delivers a finely animated production with this, while catering to the rich history of Japanese cinema. It might get a little confusing when they're going from parts of Chiyoko's life to her in one of her movies, plus having Genya and his camerman becoming integrated into them too. Aside from the somewhat dramatic overtones in it, there is also some exceptional comedy. Sony Pictures released this on DVD in the U.S. with only a Japanese track on it, probably due to the fact that the film caters alot more to otaku and those familiar with Japanese culture than your average American, however it's still an appealing film and worth checking out.

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