Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Movie: Perfect Blue

A psychological thriller that has a live action movie
plot.  Genuinely fascinating but a bit OTT. 
Disclaimer:  I don't do proper reviews.  I'm just a ranter.

Time included the film on its top 5 anime DVD list.
Perfect Blue ranked #25 on Total Film's all-time animated films.
It also made the list for Entertainment Weekly's best movies never seen from 1991-2011.

If I had to sum this movie up in three words, it would be:

What the fuck.

This isn't to say I disliked it.  I liked it, overall.  But again, even if the movie is pretty great, there is only so much high-pitched whining and screaming from female anime characters that I can humanly tolerate before my ears start bleeding Niagara falls.  

At times, I feel like I'm just watching Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Pikachu get pissed at something for 90 minutes - weirdly cute, really annoying and yet strangely compelling.


My 'wtf' verdict isn't because the movie was really inexplicably weird like those McDonald's ads in Japan or lul Fudoh: The Next Generation - a Japanese gangster movie which had schoolgirl assassins shooting poisoned needles out of their vaginas.  Yes, you sure read that right.

It was 'what the fuck' because it felt like the director, Satoshi Kon, conveniently made everyone in this movie absolutely fucking crazy.  So at the end, when you try and process which characters were the real crazies, you're just like...."wait - no - but they're ALL crazy! HAR HAR HAR OHHH SATOSHI YOU JOKER!"

Kasey Chamber's singing voice: Am I naht pretty enough???

Here's the plot summary:

Mima was a pop idol, worshipped by the masses until fashion dictated otherwise. In order to salvage her career, she is advised to drop music and pursue acting. A soap opera role is offered but Mima's character is less clean cut than desired. Regardless, she agrees and events take a turn for the worse. She begins to feel reality slip, that her life is not her own. She discovers (imagines) her identical twin, a mirror image that hasn't given up singing. Internet sites appear describing every intimate detail of her life and a figure stalks her from the shadows. Her friends and associates are threatened (and killed) as Mima descends into a dangerous world of paranoid delusion. She fears for her life and must unravel fact from illusion in order to stay alive. Perfect Blue represents a major change from traditional anime subject matter, analysing the pop icon phenomenon, fame and its psychological impact on the performer.

Sounds freakin' deep.  And I guess the film is, for touching on a lot of taboo topics like mental illness (?) and rape and unsavoury pop industry practices - but dammit, I laughed a bit harder than I should when I read all the comments on IMDB, which went along the lines of:

Guyz, I'm confused. Whut's happening.  Plz explain the ending to me cos I thought they were ALL crazy.  How can that be?   How can it be THAT coincidental?  HOW?


Is this even from Perfect Blue? wtf. 

What made Perfect Blue a good movie was how it unravelled.  Like an Alfred Hitchcock film, it kept me on the edge of my seat (for most of the movie at least, until I had to walk away at one point because she was screaming like a fucked up beta version of Hatsune Miku).  

The truth is highly elusive -  what's real, what's not? The movie keeps you guessing all the time.  You have no idea what direction the movie will take next.  It's like a roller coaster ride and you can't see the tracks.  You're hovering in space and letting some unknown force swing you into unforeseen cliffhangers.  So that was really fun.

Kon is really good at blurring the lines between fantasy, delusion and reality.  He is really a legend in the sense that loads of other movies have ripped off his ones.  
Christopher Nolan ripped off Paprika for Inception (but he admitted it lul) and Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan were also total rips heavily influenced by Perfect Blue.

I also liked it because it was an anime with huge shock value.  I thought its depiction of rape was brave in that it was quite brutal (or. Kon: THIS WILL GET ME FANBOYZ! *CHUCKS A RAPE SCENE IN THERE*) and I also wondered about how much awareness this movie raised for people suffering from mental disorders, seeing as this is usually a taboo topic, especially among Asian societies.  Praise for that.  

The main character - her growing frustration, her attempts to convince herself that she did the right thing, her overwhelming guilt, her fear and her eventual self-hatred - that was pretty well depicted e.g. the train scene where she's getting off and starts getting paranoid about a possible stalker.  However, if this movie were live action - it would have been MUCH more effective and heart-breaking.  I also think there would be no need for corny voice-overs and unnecessary scenes where the 'illusion' version of herself is flying everywhere like fucking Mary Poppins.  

The artwork was not exceptional, although I still very much enjoyed it and its circa 1995 milieu e.g. "Wut is computer?"

It was bad because the ending was a sort of cop out, imo.  For reasons already mentioned.  

Overall. 3.5 stars.  Would have given 4 were it not for DAT ANIME VOICE.

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