Posts Tagged ‘Disney’

So here it is, finally. The first in my Rewatch Review series, in which I look at horror or thriller movies I’ve seen and didn’t like/had problems with and see if maybe I missed something the first time. I’m kind of just winging it with this first one, with no fixed plan on length or how deep I’m going into these films and their respective qualities, but at the very least, I hope if you haven’t seen these films, you get an idea of whether or not it’s worth checking out. And if you have seen any of these films, you’ll get an idea of what my thoughts are on them these days.

With that out of the way, here are my thoughts on Perfect Blue!

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: Perfect Blue is an anime film that follows Mima “Mimarin” Kirigoe, a Japanese pop idol singer who, on the advice of her agency, is reluctantly leaving the pop idol industry to become an actress on a TV show.  Experiencing a crisis of identity and followed everywhere by a violent stalker, things only get worse for Mima as events conspire to blur her perceptions of reality and fiction, leading to a violent and horrifying head where not just her own life is at stake, but her very identity as well.

WHY I DIDN’T LIKE IT: I thought it was too trippy when I first saw it in college, and it kind of dragged at points. I had expected something much more dynamic, and this felt more slow-burn to me.

WHY I REWATCHED IT: I saw a video essay on the movie a while back, and it pointed out some interesting things about the film that made me want to go back and give it another chance.

THOUGHTS: I’m glad I rewatched this film, because it is really good. I’m actually a little disappointed that I didn’t care for it when I saw it in college. It’s a great psychological thriller, and there’s a lot to talk about on several different levels (I’ll stick to the film quality and not to diving deeper into the psychological aspects. I’ll leave that to the video essay I mentioned above).

First off, the animation is different from most anime, which is very stylistic. The artwork isn’t exaggerated or distinctly cartoony, full of jumpy animations and wild reactions. If you think of most anime, like Sailor Moon, Pokemon, and One Piece as analogues to cartoons like Family Guy or Looney Tunes (just examples for the non-fans out there, don’t kill me, fellow anime lovers), then Perfect Blue‘s style is more analogous to early Disney films, particularly those of Cinderella and Snow White (the latter is actually a lot darker than you probably remember it if you go back to watch it). It’s very grounded and scaled back, with very few characters actually looking pretty, cute or cool. The only ones who do are characters directly involved in the entertainment industry, and that makes the movie feel real to us. It’s a world very much like ours, with violence like ours, and people just like ours. So when you see something violent within the film, the realism makes it all the more powerful. This isn’t just animation, this feels like it could happen. Maybe it has happened, and it’s amazing to see animation portray that.

Speaking of the main character, Mima is presented to the audience with extraordinary skill. There’s no exposition or anything, but who she is and how she feels is made clear to us, which makes her real to us. We’re shown quiet moments for her, such as grocery shopping or getting to and from work, presented in contrast to her life as a celebrity, and that really conveys to us just what sort of character Mima is. And that’s good, because the central conflict is around who she is: Mima has trouble dealing with the fact that she’s been talked into changing careers, and isn’t sure who she is now that she’s changed. With the struggles of her new acting career starting to get to her, as well as visitations from her stalker, Mima’s own grasp on reality starts to go. She starts to lose track on what’s part of her new TV show, which bears some resemblances to her own mental struggle, as well as starts to see a phantom version of her pop-idol persona. And so do we, the audience, unable to tell what is real, what is part of her show, and what is part of her tortured pscyhe.

And when that happens, we feel Mima’s inner anguish. We’re right there with her, trying to unsuccessfully figure out what’s real and what isn’t. And when we can’t come up with those answers with Mima, it only makes the terror of the moment and of the unreality of the situation that much stronger.

JUDGMENT: If you think that anime can’t be deep or anything other than silly cartoons, you need to watch Perfect Blue. It’s a twisted story of a girl trying to find herself under the most terrifying circumstances reality can give her, full of gorgeous but realistic animation, intense scenes and visuals (I’m talking to you, screwdriver scene!), and great questions on the idea of our true selves versus the personas we create for ourselves (that’s a subject for another post). Definite 4.5 out of 5. Pop it in and see what the rabbit hole uncovers.

 

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you enjoyed the first entry in the Rewatch Review series, and I hope you join me when I get my hands on 2008’s The Strangers.

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It goes without saying, I love villains. They’re often the most memorable part of a story or among the most memorable parts. Everyone recognizes the killer clown from Stephen King’s IT or Dr. Lecter tied up and wearing a mask in Silence of the Lambs. And in certain musicals, when they have a song about the villain, it can become the best part of the entire show. In fact, in some cases it’s the only good part of some musicals.

I guess I’m a little obsessed with villain songs, particularly “In the Dark of the Night” from the movie Anastasia (perhaps the only good part of an expensive Disney rip-off) and “Be Prepared” from The Lion King. I’ve even written my own villain song about me as a horror writer called “Eater of Fear” (boy, would I love to get that thing produced into an actual musical track) and I came up with an idea for a short story involving a villain song. And I’m not the only one. You’ll find plenty of people who like villain songs and even create lists for them (you can find examples of other people’s lists here, here, and here).

What’s with the love of villain songs? Well, I can think of several reasons. One is that everyone likes a catchy song. It’s part of the reason why we can’t get some of Taylor Swift or Carly Rae Jepsen’s songs out of our heads sometimes (I’ve been there more than once). Villain songs are among the catchiest because they are often used to explain the plans or motivations of the villains, so a lot of thought is put into making the lyrics and tune exciting while explaining these plans/motivations. It’s a lot more fun than you’re average monologue about the villain’s plans or beliefs, right? Nobody downloads those on their iPods!

Tell me you weren’t wiggling a little in your seat when Dr. Facilier started doing this fun little song and dance.

 

Another reason is that–and this is my own opinion, but I think it has merit–most people want to indulge in their dark side every now and then, they want to have a little fun being evil. How many times have we wished we could get revenge on our bosses or on that nasty kid on the playground? Probably a lot, but we don’t because most of us are good people who would never do something so horrid or we’re afraid of the consequences. A villain song is a sort of trip to the dark side. You get to indulge in being bad and have fun singing about it. And when the song is over, what’s the worst that comes back to haunt you? Maybe someone sees you singing and goes to warn somebody else, but that might be it. Usually, the song ends and we move onto the next part of the story.

In addition, villain songs are packed with dark visuals. Even non-fans of horror like the dark and the creepy every now and then, they just don’t like being assaulted with it in the books or movies or shows they read or watch. No, they prefer to dip their toes, and a villain song is a perfect way to do it. If you’ve ever watched “Hellfire” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame or “Be Prepared”, you know they’ve got some arresting visuals. The former has some freaky Gothic and hellish imagery, the latter has freaking Nazi hyenas marching in front of Fuhrer Scar. It’s kind of creepy, it stays with you, and it’s a lot of fun to watch.

Anyone who didn’t find this scene a little chilling is either lying or possibly has ties to dangerous organizations or groups.

 

These and a bunch of other reasons could be why villain songs resonate with us so much as an audience. Whether it’s because we love a villain, indulging safely in our dark side, or we just like a catchy tune, villain songs are just a ton of fun and as long as people are writing musicals, they’re bound to show up again and again in our shows and, if they’re good, in our consciousnesses.

Do you have a thing for villain songs? Which are your favorite? And why do you think they tend to stick in people’s minds so much?

Oh, just a reminder that my Big Birthday Sale is in 2 days. From June 10th to June 14th, all my titles–The Quiet Game, Reborn City, and Snake–will be marked down or, in the case of the e-books, free to download from Amazon and Smashwords. So if you’re looking for something new to read and want to get it at a good price, this might be the opportunity for you. Get excited, because it’s coming soon!

That’ll be all for now, Followers of Fear. I’ve got to go and sing some “Eater of Fear” in my head. Have a good one.