Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Millennium Actress - a film through films

After the work of art that is Perfect Blue, I was really looking forward to watching this one. Boy did it deliver.

I love Satoshi Kon's works for how well his messages and themes intertwine with the direction and the story. Miracles in Tokyo Godfathers and existentialism in Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress is no exception, it is vibrant and colorful with the theme on films or being an actress. I end up writing so much about his films more than any others because they have so much to say, some things are out right obvious and some much deeper. These are just the kind of films I cherish. 

The movie follows an actress named Chiyoko as she narrates her life story in an interview presented through specific scenes from multiple films she had acted in and memories of her past. It's so seamless that not a moment felt disjointed from the interview or her own story, there's a sense of confidence in the style but it never feels overindulgent. They do retract to reality at times but rest assured, the narrative remains consistent, the setting varies. I believe her interviewers or specifically the camera man are an audience surrogate, since he is the only person who gives a natural reaction to every change in setting and scene

The entire narrative follows her attempts to find a mysterious person she met when she was young. She makes use of films to extend her reach. Making herself known all around just for him. While the film ends with her never actually getting to reunite with him, it really made me question the contribution of this 'mysterious man'.

My theory is that he or rather the 'key' she received from him is an embodiment of her passion, the most important thing. To reach out to her audience. There were times she lost it, during which she had succumbed to the situation, be it getting married or getting old and even forgetting why she entered the film world. Towards the end of the film, as she narrates her story, she rediscovers what she always loved. It's amazing how much we learn about ourselves just by saying things out loud. Her final words admit to being in love with herself, the way she always chased him, in other words, her attempts to reach out to her audience. An epiphany she had while holding on to her key.

 With Millennium Actress I think I have covered all of Satoshi Kon's films.I will see to it that I rewatch Paprika since it's been a long time but I am nevertheless saddened that we will not see any more of his works.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Some thoughts on Perfect Blue

So glad I got around to watch this, a head on take on existentialism with a pop-idol turned actress setting and it was really well done.

One of the first questions I asked myself after finishing it: did I ever doubt myself for not being true to myself? yes I have on multiple occasions so I presume it isn't unnatural for one to doubt but what to do with this doubt, that's what Perfect Blue was about. In Perfect Blue, doubt was a result of a commitment to a decision made years ago, perhaps, it wasn't an explicit commitment but something that had been decided subconsciously. The thing about decisions for long term plans is that there's no certainty that we will stick to it till the end, it isn't a matter of difficulty/hurdles, they are meant to overcome, rather reality hitting us, obliterating what we imagined/hoped for, leaving us discontent, or in some cases, we discover something new that really resonates with us, something that you think you're meant to do.

That is what happens for Mima in Perfect Blue, she discovers acting but her subconscious commitment towards being an idol haunts her through hallucinations and nightmares. She did become an idol but it wasn't what she truly wanted or at least, it was something that she wasn't content with and that's fine, it happens, you never know about some things until you try. She makes the decision to move to a different career fully aware that she was determined to be an idol singer at an earlier point. This gave rise to a doubt, that she might not be her 'true self', she might be a fake, this dilemma was further fueled by her 'stalker' which reaches to a point that she questions her very existence. Truth is, there is no real you or fake you, there is just you unless of course, you have 'dissociative identity disorder' where a person subconsciously develops another personality without their own knowledge. This is something the movie specifies in the most natural way, it's ingenious. The more I thought about what happened in the movie, the more it blew my mind. The movie ends with Mima saying "I'm the real me" reassuring that she no longer doubts herself and boy did that line hit the spot.

This isn't a story of how she rose to the top, it's a personal battle, something that's not restricted to 'switching careers'. Changing your decision doesn't make you any less true to yourself, you will remain yourself, you are what you decide. There is no need to constrain yourself to shackles of commitment, you learn new things which can potentially change your life and that's important to remember. Not everyone is going to be happy about it but at the end of the day, it's your life, you should do what makes you content, people may not understand that initially at least. That being said, commitments are definitely a good thing but they need to know their place, it doesn't apply everywhere especially when uncertainty is involved.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Review: Dear Esther


Dear Esther isn't much of a game, there's no challenge or goals involved. All you do is press forward. Literally.

That being said, it's only the surface of things. Dear Esther manages to pull off one thing a good game is supposed to have: the atmosphere and it does that so well. The abandoned island reeks with melancholy and it certainly makes you ponder. There were times I could almost feel the wind hitting my face, it's quite an amazing experience in that regard. The tranquility of the island is further amplified by a beautiful sound track by Jessica Curry, I've slept listening to it numerous times. While the occasional dialogue makes little to no sense as a whole, that doesn't by the least bit turn me off from the experience, rather it makes the experience all the more intense, thanks to the terrific voice over work.


Considering it is lacking a lot of fundamental characteristics of a videogame, it still remains to be one of the best experiences I've had. To put it in perspective, I have replayed that 4 times so far just so I could get some alone time, where as I can mention a bunch of actual games in my library which I've left without even playing them for an hour, let alone completing them. Moreover, I certainly see myself getting back to it yet again, Oculus Rift support would make that all the more tempting. I've certainly become a fan of Chinese Room after this so I'm looking forward to checking out Everybody's Gone to Rapture.