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Since watching Millenium Actress, Satoshi Kon has become one of my favourite directors, and I don't mean just in anime. Tokyo Godfathers in parts reminded me of screwball comedies of the 1930's and 40's with it's eccentric characters and incredible plot twists, but throughout I am reminded that the story (of a baby discovered by three homeless people) could happen nowhere but Tokyo, as its themes are particularly Japanese. The sense of duty to one's family and what creates a family (as adoption has been common for centuries). Of course the animation is breathtaking, but the viewer isn't reminded of it in a static way with pretty pictures but constant motion. The characters, in particular the onnagata (entertainer specializing in female roles) stand out as fully realized individuals that remain in your memory long after the film has ended. And I burst out laughing at a particular song that any Westerner would know.
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*just bawling like a big baby after seeing this*

Film Rec - Millennium Actress by Satoshi Kon (2001)

Breathtaking, visually stunning film with an intricate storyline regarding a famous Japanese actress and her career spanning the twentieth century, scenes refer to classic Japanese films and magical realism merges historic events with personal scenes of the main characters, (the actress Chiyoko and her longtime admirer, an aspiring director) a romantic view on how films represent our hopes and aspirations, the relationship of an actor to their craft and the audience to the actor.
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Groundbreaking anime from 1995 (remastered and revised in 2009) which seamlessly merged cell and computer animation and inspired The Matrix films in terms of visuals. the story of the film follows Major Motoko Kusanagi a female cyborg in tracking down a terrorist called the Puppet Master who hacks into cyber brains (in the future, all humans are part cyborg, where their brains can link directly to the internet) their human conciousness are referred to as 'ghosts'

Ghost in the Shell began as a manga, and is also an anime series, rights to the film were purchased some years ago by Dream Works, we'll see if it ever gets out of production hell, as other Japanese anime such as Death Note, Evangelion and Bleach.
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If you are looking for a good film, try this sci-fi adventure from 1979, written and directed by Nicolas Meyer (author of The Seven-Percent Solution where Sherlock Holmes meets Sigmund Freud)

Malcom McDowell plays author H.G. Wells, who in the Victorian Era builds the Time Machine from his novel of the same name, then uses it to track Jack the Ripper (David Warner) into modern-day San Francisco. The script is excellent, well-paced and with a few unexpected twists and turns - the special effects stand up very well, but it's the acting (including love interest Mary Steenburgen) that will win you over. Incidentally, the love story in the film became real when Malcom McDowell and Mary Steenburgen (meeting for the first time on set) were married.

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