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Chiyoko, Millennium Actress

Millennium Actress will be released in a limited theatrical run by Dreamworks, under their new Go Fish Pictures label. Beginning on September 12th, the movie will be shown in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and Toronto. You should be able to find all the screenings here once the dates & theatres are available. After its short theatrical run, Millennium Actress will be released on DVD on October 28.
But there have been a few advance screenings. One of them is in Los Angeles on September 9th
Time: 7:30 PM
Location: Landmark Regent Theater, Westwood
RSVP: 818-695-3131

Any anime fan worth his salt should recognize the name of Satoshi Kon. He is the genius that gave us Perfect Blue, a masterpiece of psychological horror that made the viewer experience madness through the eyes of Mima, a young pop idol aspiring to become an actress. Kon kept the viewer constantly off-balance by shattering the boundary between reality and fiction, truth and hallucination. Now, in Millennium Actress, one can easily recognize the director's unique style. In fact, this movie project started when Kon was asked to do "something with the style of Perfect Blue". But this time the elaborate blurring of reality and fiction is used in the service of an Epic Love Story. Perfect Blue, due to its psycho-thriller nature, was intentionally confusing. But Millennium Actress is not confusing at all; in fact, the lack of distinction between fact and blurry memories gives the movie a poetic quality that helps to propel the story of this love that persists beyond time, beyond memory. The narrative is surprisingly simple because the important thing in this movie is not the story itself but rather the telling. You will not find a great and mind-bending original plot, but you will find it told in such an original and beautiful way that it cannot leave you untouched.

Since I would be hard pressed to come up with something better, I will let the description of the Fantasia Festival tell for me the synopsis of the story:

Genya Tachibana is a director and the president of a small production company. One day, he is contacted by the famous Gin Ei studios, that ask him to direct a documentary commemorating their 70 years of existence. Genya chooses as a subject the legendary actress Chiyoko Fujiwara, a superstar actress who 30 years earlier chose to end her career and disappear from public life. Chiyoko Fujiwara is a cinematographic enigma that nobody ever seemed to shed light on. Genya is obsessed by this fallen star, wanting to unravel the truth behind her secret. Accompanied by a young cameraman, Genya finds his way to Chiyoko, who has transformed into an elderly hermit living alone in an isolated house. At their first meeting, Genya sees that Chiyoko, although touched by the hand of time, has not lost any of her charm or energy. To gain her confidence, he brings her an ancient key that holds sentimental value, that rapidly allows Chiyoko to begin recounting her memories. The interview takes course, and our 3 protagonists are plunged into the past, visiting each fragment of what has been long gone, where the past and present meld together. The actress´┐Ż recollections soon metamorphosize into a great adventure where cinema confronts her history and an incredible love is unveiled, that conflicted with her rather uncommon lifestyle...

Millennium Actress is a kind of movie that is very difficult to review. This is due in part because the story is non-linear, like trying to explain the camera cuts in Perfect Blue. But it is also because this movie is not about a story per se, but about emotions. It's about Chiyoko and her endless search for love, so the events in the movie are entirely used to tell that message. You might see in what position I find myself... it's rather tricky to give a synopsis of a movie that's about a message instead of a story. In fact, a synopsis would be pretty useless to give you any idea of what the movie is like. This deserves a full essay and nothing less, in order to explore the "substance" of the movie. I'm not sure if I'm making any sense here, this is kinda hard to explain... ~_~

Well, if you don't want to read a full essay (or wait for one), here's a tagline for you. Simplistic but remarkably accurate:

Millennium Actress has the stylistic sophistication of Perfect Blue
with the empathy, warmth and truth of a Ghibli movie!

Last page update: 2002-07-29
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