starlady: (orihime)
[personal profile] starlady
Perfect Blue. Dir. Kon Satoshi, 1998.

I watched this the other night and…I was underwhelmed. The animation looks really cheap compared to today's standards, the DVD transfer was pretty bad, and more importantly, I just couldn't escape the feeling that the film I was watching was not the one that Kon was making.

Perfect Blue is the story of ex-small-time pop idol Kirigoe Mima, who decides to transition into being a TV actor and who quickly gets ensnared in the net of a fan-stalker whose harassment causes her to lose her grip on reality. The key moment in Mima's journey is when she agrees to film a rape scene that sets up the entire second half of the TV series she's working on along with the film's efforts to blur reality and delusion. (Anime is particularly good at this, since you can--and Kon does--reuse entire sequences, changing only the voice acting. The voice acting, by the way, sounded like a who's who of '90s anime.) I don't know what Kon wanted us to think of Mima's decisions to sacrifice her own physical and mental integrity for her career, but I couldn't stop thinking of Abigail Nussbaum's post Women and Horses, about the cost of doing business on cable dramas and how women's bodies are the currency of that business. I can't, because of that, read the denouement of Mima's story as anything particularly happy.

And, frankly, I hated that the demented fan-stalker was so hideous, and the eventual reveal about Mima's manager seemed to be another element in the story that Kon didn't know he was telling, the one about the patriarchy exploiting women for entertainment - both in the film, and then, on a meta-level, outside it, as we the audience partake of MIma's psychological breakdown for our own gratification - and then abandoning them when their bodies are no longer up to snuff. Blech. I'll stick to Paprika.

Also, on a much more superficial level, mainstream Japanese fashion in the '90s was terrible.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-08-17 20:40 (UTC)
eccentricyoruba: (Default)
From: [personal profile] eccentricyoruba
I did not like that the fan-stalker was so hideous either and ditto with the reveal about Mima's manager. It just did not add up at all.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-08-17 23:39 (UTC)
rushthatspeaks: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rushthatspeaks
I actually think that was the story Satoshi Kon was telling, about the patriarchy-- the reason the fan-stalker is so hideous is that he is the physical representation of the male gaze. It's not actually meant to be a happy ending; it's the ending about how she's abandoned or strangled all the parts of her that aren't what the patriarchy wants. The other woman who's 'too fat', anti-social, ambitious in the ways that the pretty young idol isn't supposed to want-- the slippage between reality and dream means that she's both an external character and a representation of the portion of Mima that does not want to be what she is or become what she's becoming. It's a frightening and distressing ending and I think it's supposed to be.

I suspect the bad DVD transfer of not helping, as my VHS master copy has dated but still looks quite nice.

The thing about Perfect Blue that makes me most angry/sad at the moment is OH DARREN ARONOFSKY NO, though. When he made Black Swan he based it very heavily on Perfect Blue, which is reasonable if one is going to acknowledge it, but instead he BOUGHT UP THE DVD RIGHTS TO THE MOVIE AND PREVENTED IT FROM BEING RE-RELEASED IN THE US. So you can blame that transfer on him. And seriously, it's a movie I like and admire but don't love, but you don't DO that and even if it were unmitigatedly terrible I would still be REALLY PISSED at Aronofsky; I am avoiding his films.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-08-17 23:55 (UTC)
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] lnhammer
Also, on a much more superficial level, mainstream Japanese fashion in the '90s was terrible.

Yes. Yes, it was.

---L.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-08-18 01:10 (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I did think the sideplot about her manager was intentional. And I think the movie was meant to address the Brittany Spears type starlet machine: get them very, very young and drop them once they actually reach adulthood, broken and unprepared for anything else. And I think it was intentional and not 'happy' that her newfound success is a result of her simultaneous notoriety/victimhood.


I am sort of curious why you like Paprika better. Paprika was the least favorite of his movies for me. It actually seemed the most male-gazey of all of his works, what with the story being mainly about the paternal detective and the overweight nerd. And I reeaaally did not like the examination table scene; it seemed gratuitous to me in a way Perfect Blue's harassment did not.

I personally have no real desire to rewatch either. Tokyo Godfathers has become a regular at Christmastime for us now, though.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-08-18 02:16 (UTC)
esmenet: Utena and Akio duelling (akio vs. utena)
From: [personal profile] esmenet
And I reeaaally did not like the examination table scene; it seemed gratuitous to me in a way Perfect Blue's harassment did not.

Yessss, this. I watched Paprika a few months ago and haven't watched Perfect Blue in years, but I remember going 'yes, I see what you're doing here' with all those scenes in Perfect Blue, whereas that one scene in Paprika just had me going JFC DNW. (I love that movie, but I also hate that she gave up her dreamwalking job to go get married.) In addition, I do love that the two really turning-point moments for Mima in the latter half of the film (hitting her stalker in the temple with a hammer, stabbing her manager) were the ones where she was able to ignore all the outside factors and trust at least her own body if not her mind.

I cannot tell you how many times I've rewatched that scene where Mima clocks stalker-guy in the temple with that hammer, because I love the way everything just stops for a moment, all the sexist gaslighting bullshit she's had to deal with the whole time embodied in that guy (at the moment, anyway) is completely halted for one instant by her own actions. Of course things go on and get worse right after, but that one moment always gets me.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-08-19 22:42 (UTC)
esmenet: the castle in the sky where eternity dwells (Utena) (the castle in the sky where eternity dwe)
From: [personal profile] esmenet
During the big chase scene (the one where she turns into a mermaid and then Pinocchio and then Sun Wukong) the Chairman's lackey dude gives her butterfly wings, which are pinned to an exam table, and then he talks about how he's 'finally caught' her, gropes her, and then literally shoves his hand inside her body, splitting the 'skin' of Paprika to reveal the everyday face of our main character. Without any clothes on. And then the chairman sort of grows out of him and his hand on her neck turns into tree roots that go down her throat. --Basically, it's a rape scene, even though the straight-up facts of the situation could be described as not actually being rape. The similar scenes in Perfect Blue are part of the overall story & theme, so they don't hit me nearly as bad as that exam table scene does.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-08-18 08:45 (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I used to tell friends that Perfect Blue was in the category of 'great movies I never want to watch again.' I felt like it go so much of the harassment and its consequences right, but for that same reason it was not something I'd want to relive.

I'd forgotten that about Paprika. I'd got the sense that she'd existed more than any of Kon's other heroines for other people (men). I understand that she is a therapist and that is her job, but I don't think the movie was very successful at giving her things to do that didn't involve influencing the men around her to take action. Ending with her quitting to marry just makes it so much worse.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-08-18 08:34 (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh, yes Millennium Actress was great, too. There was an awkward phase until I was sure where Kon was going with the WW2 bits, but after that I was really pleased.

In Paprika, the villain has her restrained on a table and runs his hand into her and then up in a very rapey way. And in that case, I can't see any reason at all for their confrontation being depicted in those terms.

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