Friday, September 03, 2004

DVD: Millennium Actress (2002)

A reclusive screen legend agrees to one final interview to mark the closing of the studio that made her name. As she speaks to the film crew, scenes from her movies merge with moments from her life until it becomes difficult to tell them apart.

Satoshi Kon’s feature-length anime is an insanely ambitious work. It’s a look at the full sweep of a woman’s life as well as a history of postwar Japanese cinema. (I have no doubt that it’s packed with movie references that sailed over my head. Although I’m pretty sure I spotted Zatoichi in there.) The plot that drives the film is gossamer thin; it’s really more of a conceit than a story. But it allows Kon to tie all of his themes together and build to a poignant ending.

The scope and sweep of this movie would be impossible to achieve in live action. Luckily the Japanese continue to see animation as a vessel for adult storytelling.

TV: Republican National Convention

A highpoint of this week’s coverage was MSNBC’s ‘Convention After Hours.’ The show, hosted by Joe Scarborough and Ron Reagan, Jr., aired nightly from midnight to 2AM EST live from Herald Square. Maybe it was the lateness of the hour or the in-house jazz band, but the show had a mellow vibe that encouraged guests to speak to each other without screaming. I was sorry to see it end.

Last night Triumph the Insult Comic Dog joined the panel. (A moment, please, to honor Robert Smigel. Who must laugh himself to sleep every night, still unable to believe that a one-joke bit on Conan O’Brien has become a second career.) Triumph asked actor Ron Silver if he’d endorsed Bush because it was either that or go on HOLLYWOOD SQUARES. Silver replied that national security had made him a one-issue voter, then asked Triumph to name the key domestic issues of 1940, ’44, ’52 and other election years when the United States was at war. After a pause, panelist Mike Barnicle said, “Ron, are you actually trying to debate the dog?”

Cut to my favorite shot in all of television: the crew in hysterics.

Over on Fox, Pat Boone decried morals in Hollywood. As an example, he cited Robert Mitchum’s arrest for marijuana possession – in 1948. When he got out, Boone said, “he was bigger than ever.” Well, that’s true.