Millennium Actress / 千年女優 – Movie Mini-Review

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 27mm, f/2.8, 1/100 sec, ISO1000
“Millennium Actress” Cedar Park, 2021

I was browsing Amazon Prime Movies and came across the Satoshi Kon movie Millennium Actress so I made some popcorn and settled in to watch it.

I enjoyed it a lot! The story was cool and imaginative, following the story of a veteran actress Chiyoko’s career, with flashbacks to different genres of movies in various historical settings. The scene where Chiyoko appears as a scientist/doctor in a kaiju movie was one of my favorites, even though it only lasted a few seconds. But the transition between the genres was so cool. There was also a nice amount of action and fighting during the ninja-assassin scenes which was very well-done.

I’ve never thought that the character style in Satoshi Kon’s movies were to my liking, but I might finally be coming around. Some of the expressions in Millennium Actress were fantastic. Definitely a recommended anime to watch!

Crying Out Love in the Center of the World / 世界の中心で、愛をさけぶ (2004) – Movie Mini Review

Photo info: FUJIFILM X-E4, 27mm, f/2.8, 1/100 sec, ISO2000
“Aki” Cedar Park, 2021

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Tonight I watched the 2004 Japanese movie Crying Out Love in the Center of the World / 世界の中心で、愛をさけぶ, which was the breakout movie for my current actress crush Masami Nagasawa. I love melodramatic tear-jerkers these days and I knew going in that this was a sad story (you find out early on that Aki passes away), but I didn’t know that the story’s time period would also include a lot of nostalgic interest for me.

The story switches between 2004 (present day) and 1986, when the characters were in high school, which means the characters are the same age as me and Mariko. Adding to the nostalgia, Aki (Masami Nagasawa) and Saku (Mirai Moriyama) exchange messages to each other via cassette tape and it’s fun to see the old Walkman models and compact boom-boxes in action – it almost makes me want to find an old cassette player. 😁

The plot is more interesting and complex than you might expect, and there’s a bit of mystery as to who the character Ritsuko (Kou Shibasaki) really is, and how the cassette tapes connect the past to the present. But it’s the acting that really impressed me. Most of the scenes are quiet are drawn-out, so all attention is on the acting and I am happy to say that it does not disappoint. A+ from the entire cast.

I really liked that the story Crying Out Love in the Center of the World is so pure and innocent, yet can still be so moving. There’s no controversial, disturbing, or uncomfortable scenes – it’s just a story about love, loss, and trying to move on.

I rate it 9 out of 10 on the enjoyment meter!

Minari / 미나리 (2020) – Movie Mini-Review

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/100 sec, ISO2000
“Watching Minari” Cedar Park, 2021

Last night we watched the film Minari / 미나리. I was really looking forward to this movie because of all the glowing reviews, and although I enjoyed it, I didn’t connect with it on the level that many others did, mainly because my childhood experience was much different than any of the characters in the movie. It also makes sense because there are probably many nuances in the film that only people of Korean descent would identify with (Korea is not part of my multi-ethnic background).

I thought the family dynamic was interesting and realistic – not over-the-top, but typical of a slice-of-life story, which I enjoy. My favorite character was grandma, and I would have liked to learn more about her story. The rest of the family seemed one-dimensional compared to her. It felt like her age and history shaped her character to a greater extent and there was a lot of mystery to her motivations, whereas the others’ motivations seemed straightforward.

In short, I thought Minari was a good, but unremarkable, movie. As always, YMMV.

My rating of Minari / 미나리 is 7.5 out of 10.

Shout out to the JACL for making tickets to Minari available to members!

2021 Movies & Books

Here’s my 2021 list of books I’ve read and movies I’ve watched, with my rating of how much I liked it, in parentheses (out of 10).

To see other years’ lists, click on the “List Love” menu in the top navigation.

Books

Movies and Dorama

Last Year’s Books & Movies

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/90 sec, ISO3200
“Just Hangin” Cedar Park, 2021

I don’t consider myself an avid movie-watcher, but since we got rid of our cable/satellite television a few years back, my tv-time has been spent on Netflix watching feature films and short tv series. I keep a list of the movies I watch, and in 2020 I watched 49, which is a pretty big number for me. Perhaps the pandemic has skewed the number a bit higher, but probably not by much since I also like to go to the theater and those outings have been stopped of course. Besides knowing the total count, it’s fun to look back at the years to see what I watched.

On the same page I keep track of the books I’ve read throughout the year, but I also participate in the yearly reading challenge on Goodreads. For 2020 I set a goal of 20 books to read, and I ended up finishing 35. I’m particularly proud of that! One thing that made my year of reading special was that I started reading audiobooks. What a fantastic way to read!

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Today’s photo is a snapshot of one of my desk “residents”. I have three of the Pinky:St figures, but this one is my favorite.