Sunday, December 26, 2010

Movie Review: Millennium Actress

Like I said earlier, at anime club we had a choice of movies for Satoshi Kon night (both from my friend Caitlyn), Paprika and Millennium Actress and she let me hang onto MA a little longer until I could see it too. Like Paprika I already knew the basic plot of it so I wasn't surprised by the initial plot twist, that seems to be a favorite of Kons, but I still found it a very enjoyable movie none the less.

Millennium Actress
 Summary: Genya Tachibana has always been a big fan of the actress Chiyoko Fujiwara and with the closing of her old studio he sets out with a camera man to interview her. Although she hasn't acted in many years she did many films when she was young and they seemed to mimic her life, or is she remembering her past lives and not movies at all?

The Good: Kon has a way of blending multiple story threads very well, it's very hard to see where the stories end and the movies begin even if you're looking closely (it might be easier on a second watching) but the real beauty is that I'm not sure it matters what was real and what wasn't. Each storyline carried it's own weight and none of them overwhelm the others which is a very tricky feat, especially when you remember that this is all slice-of-life (seriously, how was this only his second film?!?) which, IMO, is harder to write well than something with a central plot.

The Bad: There are two interpretations to this movie actually and I was influenced by what I read about it before I started which makes me a little cynical and wonder, did Kon even know what he wanted the story to be about in the end? I'm always a little skeptical when a story can be interpreted two ways (like say Justin Larbalestier's Liar for example), usually because it feels like an author had an awesome idea and then someone else said it could also go another way and then the author edits the book with this in mind. MA was not like that, it felt like it was planned to be like this from the beginning, but at times it does feel like Kon had two very similar but separate ideas and ended up sticking them together.

The Art: I'd forgotten that movies made back in the early 2000s already look a bit dated, it really caught me by surprise here. The movie is from 2001 and the art looks just fine, animation looked good as well, both tending more towards realism than most anime which is the style I prefer, but it wasn't as crisp as I'm used to these days, there seemed to be more noise/grain and that distracted me at a few points. Given that a major part of the movie is about films that could've been on purpose but I think it's just the difference in almost a decade's technology.

The Music: None of the music especially stood out to me but, and I probably should've mentioned this way before, I'm not a musical person in the slightest so only really good or bad music stands out to me. I liked the music when I heard it, it was well done, it just didn't stick with me. And again, a song has to be pretty catchy for it to stick and usually have lyrics, and even then I remember words with English lyrics better than anything else.

Didn't get around to seeing the "making of" extra but I do hope to buy this DVD sometime (better do it quick however, apparently new copies are going for over $50 and used for over $20) and I'll catch it then. I highly recommend it, it's a good watch that, while it won't leave you going "ow ow ow my brain" afterwards, is much more rewarding if you pay closer attention to it.
So, three Kon movies down, one movie and a tv series to go! My plan is to try and see Perfect Blue either over my fall break or Thanksgiving break and then get Paranoia Agent, both via Netflix, over winter break, maybe I can get my mom and Ted to watch these as well, I think that both of them would really enjoy them, heck, my brother might like one or two of these.