Director: Satoshi Kon
This Japanese animation from Satoshi Kon, who also directed the very well-regarded
Paprika, Tokyo Godfather and Perfect Blue (none of which I have seen unfortunately),
is a marvelous stroll through Japan in the 20th Century and their film industry.
It is nostalgic, warm, amusing, magical, poignant and eventually bitter sweet.
It also contains a love story that reminded me of Dr. Zhivago in its vast
panorama. The animation struck me as simplistic with basic facial features
and backgrounds but the imagination at work jumbling and merging the real
and the unreal storylines together and sending us on an emotional trip is
Two reporters seek out an interview with Chiyoko, an elderly actress who
was once a huge star in the 1950's but who went into seclusion many years
previously when she was at the top. She has disappeared from the public for
decades. She agrees to be interviewed and takes the two newsmen and the viewers
on a trip into the past that is a mélange of swirling memories of
her life and the films she was in that covered the genres - Ninja, Samurai,
Period, Romance, Godzilla. But strung through all of this is a love story
that is hopeless and tragic. As a young girl she literally runs into a young
man who is fleeing the fascist security and she helps him hide. In return
he gives her a key that he says he will be back for. For the rest of her
life she searches, waits and hopes. The ending is brilliant and nearly metaphysical.