Wednesday, September 10, 2003
First up this evening is a reminder of the Dreamworks release of the Japanese animated film, Millenium Actress. Although I have yet to see this film, it comes recommended out of Japan and has good lineage. The director, Satoshi Kon, produced 1997's gripping psychological thriller, Perfect Blue. In addition, Kon's latest work won prestigious awards in Japan, Thailand and Canada in the wake of its initial release in 2001.
Millenium Actress tells the story of Chiyoko Fujiwara, one of Japan's most famous actresses, as recorded by two documentary filmmakers. Thirty years before, Fujiwara retired suddenly from her contract studio and chose to live the life of a hermit. The two filmmakers have searched high and low for Chiyoko, finally coming upon an aged Fujiwara in a remote mountain lodge. The film's story is the tale of their journey through her films and her career as they insert themselves into her movies and her life, as though walking through a door that led to a number of different realities. Fujiwara is in constant search of her one true love, symbolized by a key that one of the filmmakers recovered from her old studio.
By all accounts a superb film, Millenium Actress opens in limited release on September 12th. It should be out on DVD within six months.
Moving from the sublime to the ridiculous, Yasir Arafat has appointed one of his goons to be the next Palestinian Prime Minister. Abu Mazen decided that he didn't want to wait around for Arafat to have him assassinated, so he resigned the PM's post. There was no way that Arafat was going to call off the Hamas, the Tanzim, and Force 17, his personal gang of assassins and bombmakers. Abu Mazen's position became untenable, and he retired to private life. His replacement is Arafat toady Ahmed Qurie, speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Naturally, the entire Road Map for Peace is supposed to depend on this poor soul, who couldn't deliver the dead in a Chicago election, much less the Palestinians to the peace table.
Naturally, Qurie will say that he is trying, but most of the money and shahid are supplied by Arafat's people. Right now the Americans are putting up with the slight fiction that the new guy can crack down on the local hoodlums. Qurie can't of course, because the hoodlums have the support of Arafat, who has the support of the broad mass of Palestinians.
So the Israelis are thinking of other methods, and they are feeling little pressure from Bush to show restraint. There is a sense that the Israelis will either kill Arafat or deport him. The Israelis tried to eliminate Hamas' spiritual leader the other day. In response, Hamas attacked with two shahid bombings that killed 15 Israelis, including a doctor and his daughter. I have predicted a multi-brigade operation into Gaza for some time, now that Saddam's regime has fallen. It looks like the Israelis have already begun a series of air strikes.
It will be bloody, but I don't see any other way. As the Russians said to each other during World War II, "trod the viper".