HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Stanford Prison Experiment, The
Assassination in Rome
Castle Freak
Pinocchio
Brother Bear
Raiders of Buddhist Kung Fu
County Lines
Polytechnique
We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Covert Action
Strangler's Web
Host
Nimic
House of Bamboo
Murder Me, Monster
Hell and High Water
Possessor
Flint
Miserables, Les
Ritz, The
Patrick
Cemetery
Girls of the Sun
Princess and the Goblin, The
Skyfire
Upright
Incredible Kung Fu Mission
Dirty Cops
You Cannot Kill David Arquette
Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist
Son's Room, The
Evil Hits Evil
Agency
Blue My Mind
Thumbelina
Proxima
Aprile
Assassination Nation
Golden Key, The
Image Book, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
Werewolves are Real: Dog Soldiers on Digital
Rose: A Love Story - Producers April Kelley and Sara Huxley Interview
Phone Phreak: 976-EVIL on Blu-ray
Living the Nightmare: Dementia on Blu-ray
Becky and The Devil to Pay: Ruckus and Lane Skye Interview
Big Top Bloodbath: Circus of Horrors on Blu-ray
A Knock on the Door at 4 O'clock in the Morning: The Strangers on Blu-ray
Wives of the Skies: Honey Lauren Interview
   
 
  Millennium Actress A Life in Pictures
Year: 2001
Director: Satoshi Kon
Stars: Fumiko Orikasa, Mami Koyama, Miyoko Shoji, Kouichi Yamadera, Masamichi Sato, Masane Tsukayama, Masay Onosaka, Shoko Tsuda, Shozo Izuka, Hirotaka Suzuoki, Kan Tokumaru, Naoko Kyoda, Takkou Ishimori, Tomie Kataoka
Genre: Drama, Animated, Romance, Historical, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Manga artist turned animator Satoshi Kon is the most exciting talent active in anime today. Rather than pander to juvenile fantasies or industry trends, his movies draw from a more personal muse. Enriching the medium’s warmth and vitality with mature storylines and complex characters, they are ideal for world cinema enthusiasts who might otherwise give anime a miss. After making a splash with the groundbreaking anime giallo Perfect Blue (1997), Kon delivered a masterpiece that, despite being distributed by DreamWorks in the USA, may have passed you by.

In modern Japan, after seventy years of movie-making, the venerable Ginei Film Studios are demolished. Devoted fan and documentary filmmaker Genya Tachibana (Shozo Izuka) and his jaded, twenty-something cameraman Kyoji Ida (Masaya Onosaka) track down the studio’s biggest star, reclusive actress Chiyoko Fujiwara (Miyoko Shoji). Returning to her a mysterious key, the star-struck Tachibana coaxes Chiyoko into recounting her life story.

As a teenager in the 1930s, living under the military rule, Chiyoko (Fumiko Orikasa) rebelliously shelters a young painter/human rights activist (Kouichi Yamadera) from a scar-faced government agent (Masane Tsukayama). Her good looks draw offers of movie stardom, which her overbearing mother (Naoko Kyoda) sharply declines, preferring she should find a husband and stay at home. But when the artist flees to China, Chiyoko agrees to headline an epic set in Manchuria so they can be reunited, thus beginning a lifelong search for her elusive, true love.

Fact blurs with fiction as Chiyoko’s life is filtered through the fictional roles she played, with Tachibana and Ida magically reliving her life and cinematic adventures in real time. Tachibana becomes an active participant, repeatedly taking the role of Chiyoko’s protector in various guises. After her train is attacked by Manchurian bandits, Chiyoko time-leaps into a supernatural samurai epic reminiscent of Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood (1957), where she meets a ghostly witch who plagues the rest of her life. We leap into ninja girl movie, whose high-flying fantastical fights evoke Shinobi no Mono (1960) and Watari Ninja Boy] (1966), with Tachibana hilariously stoic as a Clint Eastwood-style swordsman.

Next comes a geisha drama that finds Chiyoko again at the mercy of resentful, older actress Eiko (Shoko Tsuda). A Victorian romance, a Second World War survival drama where bombs fall on Japan (“Is this a science fiction movie?” asks young Ida), a schoolteacher melodrama and a great big monster movie, complete with fire-breathing Godzilla imitator, flicker before our eyes. The time jumping and constant shifts between reality and fantasy can get confusing, but the complex story is richly detailed and rewards repeat viewings. It sweeps gloriously from the epic to the intimate. From an awe-inspiring space station orbiting planet Earth, to Chiyoko’s poignant discovery of her portrait painted on a bombed out ruin in Tokyo.

Satoshi Kon admits he drew inspiration from actresses Setsuko Hara, the star of Tokyo Story (1953) who suddenly withdrew from public life after a thirty year career, and Hideko Takamine, who started out as the Japanese Shirley Temple before headlining masterpieces like Twenty-Four Eyes (1954). Yet he is equally adamant, Chiyoko is a “universal character”, someone who embodies our relationship with cinema as a outlet for creative, escapism and anxiety.

While the animation dazzles in its fluid amalgamation of Japanese Ukiyo-e woodblock prints, abstract visuals, still photos and painterly images, it’s the poignancy of the story that resonates. Almost every character carries a secret and like Hayao Miyazaki, Kon refuses to box characters into good or evil. In a notion that reoccurs in Kon’s equally dazzling Paprika (2007), reality and fantasy are not separate, but co-exist, alternately disrupting and nurturing each other. Stirring and profound, with a soaring soundtrack, the film concludes it isn’t the dream but chasing the dream that we really love.

Click here for the trailer

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2893 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Satoshi Kon  (1963 - 2010)

Japanese director of intelligent, innovative anime. A former comic book artist, Kon worked as a background artist on a variety of anime projects before directing hs first feature, the psychological thriller Perfect Blue. His subsequent work met with equal acclaim - Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, the complex TV series Paranoia Agent and Paprika. Sadly, he died while working on his final film, The Dreaming Machine.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Andrew Pragasam
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: