animated dreams

I enjoy film. I guess the word “film” is starting to be an inaccurate term, since we are quickly moving further and further into the digital age. I don’t really like to say “movies” when I refer to them as pieces of art, not exactly sure why, but maybe it seems a bit too mundane of a word. Motion pictures? Most certainly. When I attended art school, I majored in Motion Pictures. Seems like more words than necessary, but I feel it is the most accurate term.

The past three, ahem, motion pictures that I’ve seen have all been animated films, and that isn’t half bad. They are arguably the best films I’ve seen so far this year. I’m no expert (wink wink), but I know enough to know what I like and enjoy.

Following is a short personal review of these three films, in the order that I saw them, oldest to newest.

  • The Triplets of Belleville (a.k.a. Belleville Rendevous): this film is surely a work of art… it is absolute eye candy. Don’t leave it at just that, though, because the entire film itself is a great treat. The simple yet compelling story is told mostly visually, with only a handful of spoken lines throughout the entire length of the picture. All the characters and colorful and interesting. Oh, and not to mention, the great soundtrack (the title track is very catchy, be forewarned!).

  • Tokyo Godfathers: We had seen the posters advertising this film at the Camera 3 when we went to see Belleville, and I took note of it. I also noticed that it was directed by Satoshi Kon, who directed the suspense anime film Perfect Blue, which we were fairly impressed by (although on DVD instead of the screen). I was interested in seeing this film because it seemed unique and had an interesting plot line (3 homeless people finding a baby in Tokyo on Christmas Eve, and the events/surprises that follow). I also admit that I wanted to see how the city of Tokyo was portrayed in this film, since I heard statements in other reviews, like, “The star of the show is the city itself”. Having visited Tokyo last year, I was eager to see if the spirit of the city was accurately portrayed. IMHO, it was dead on, and surpassed any expectations.
  • Millenium Actress: oddly enough, we had rented this DVD the Saturday before last, and let it sit on the shelf for the full week, overlapping the time in which we saw Tokyo Godfathers. The reason I mention this is because this film is also directed by Satoshi Kon… it was his next film after Perfect Blue. Again, this film broke the mold. I have never seen anything like it in American cinema. The story of an aging actress throughout recent Japanese history runs the full gamut of emotions (at least, it did for me). The storytelling is unique, intertwining the actress’ story with scenes from her (fictional) movies. One of the more touching anime films I’ve seen, and it’s beautifully done to boot. Wow. Just wow.

You owe it to yourself to see these films. They will drastically change your view on animated films, if not, filmmaking itself.

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