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Reel Bay: A Cinematic Essay

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What was Takako Konishi really doing in North Dakota, and why did she end up dead? Did she get lost and freeze to death, as the police concluded, while searching for the fictional treasure buried in a snowbank at the end of the Coen Brothers' film Fargo? Or was it something else that brought her there: unrequited love, ritual suicide, a meteor shower, a far-flung search fo What was Takako Konishi really doing in North Dakota, and why did she end up dead? Did she get lost and freeze to death, as the police concluded, while searching for the fictional treasure buried in a snowbank at the end of the Coen Brothers' film Fargo? Or was it something else that brought her there: unrequited love, ritual suicide, a meteor shower, a far-flung search for purpose? The seed of an obsession took root in struggling film student Jana Larson when she chanced upon a news bulletin about the case. Over the years and across continents, the material Jana gathered in her search for the real Takako outgrew multiple attempts at screenplays and became this remarkable, genre-bending essay that leans into the space between fact and fiction, life and death, author and subject, reality and delusion.


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What was Takako Konishi really doing in North Dakota, and why did she end up dead? Did she get lost and freeze to death, as the police concluded, while searching for the fictional treasure buried in a snowbank at the end of the Coen Brothers' film Fargo? Or was it something else that brought her there: unrequited love, ritual suicide, a meteor shower, a far-flung search fo What was Takako Konishi really doing in North Dakota, and why did she end up dead? Did she get lost and freeze to death, as the police concluded, while searching for the fictional treasure buried in a snowbank at the end of the Coen Brothers' film Fargo? Or was it something else that brought her there: unrequited love, ritual suicide, a meteor shower, a far-flung search for purpose? The seed of an obsession took root in struggling film student Jana Larson when she chanced upon a news bulletin about the case. Over the years and across continents, the material Jana gathered in her search for the real Takako outgrew multiple attempts at screenplays and became this remarkable, genre-bending essay that leans into the space between fact and fiction, life and death, author and subject, reality and delusion.

39 review for Reel Bay: A Cinematic Essay

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

    I loved the structure and the topic. This is truly an essay-as-book, as Larson is trying to figure out the motives of Takako Konishi. Who was this woman? What drew her to Fargo and then rural Minnesota, where she died a mysterious death in the woods, surrounded by two bottles of champagne and a variety of medication in her system? As Larson investigates Konishi’s quest, she uncovers a parallel story of herself on a quest to make a film about Konishi. What was Konishi searching for? What is Larson I loved the structure and the topic. This is truly an essay-as-book, as Larson is trying to figure out the motives of Takako Konishi. Who was this woman? What drew her to Fargo and then rural Minnesota, where she died a mysterious death in the woods, surrounded by two bottles of champagne and a variety of medication in her system? As Larson investigates Konishi’s quest, she uncovers a parallel story of herself on a quest to make a film about Konishi. What was Konishi searching for? What is Larson searching for? Is she truly trying to figure out Konishi, or is she trying to figure out herself? The questions about Konishi vex Larson. The screenplay excerpts show myriad ways that Konishi’s story could be structured. It’s also a story about obsession. Larson cannot quite define why she’s so intrigued by Konishi. She becomes a reporter, following Konishi’s trail to Bismarck and Fargo and Detroit Lakes. She moves to Japan at first to help a friend shoot a documentary, but then decides to stay to continue her quest for answers about Konishi. The book is divided into seven chapters called “reels.” Some of the action is expository, while other action is represented in the screenplay format. I was most captivated watching Larson on Konishi’s trail in North Dakota and Minnesota. We also spend quite a bit of time in San Diego, where Larson attends film school. We see her frustrations in making the film about Konishi and other struggles she has as a student (i.e. finding motivation, getting caught up in an unfulfilling relationship, lack of confidence). I was less impressed with the two chapters that take place in Japan. At times they felt long, like they needed a good edit. The exposition started to take on the feel of “this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened.” We are introduced to a lot of names and characters, some of whom only make a brief appearance and then are not mentioned again. Overall, though, this book is a perfect blend of reportage, memoir, essay, and biography. The story is told in a creative and artistic way, which I very much appreciated.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Doug Norfleet

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gracie

  4. 5 out of 5

    Brianna

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Podsiedlik

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Dunkle

  7. 4 out of 5

    Logann

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jan

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karen

  10. 4 out of 5

    Julio

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jb Fulcher

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ada

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kylie

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kaila Lancaster

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amelia

  16. 5 out of 5

    Terry

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lydia

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Valley

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jared Quist

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amelia

  21. 5 out of 5

    Brandee

  22. 5 out of 5

    P.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Spoer

  24. 4 out of 5

    Leo

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christine Corbett

  26. 4 out of 5

    Richard Derus

  27. 5 out of 5

    Adrian

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gordon

  31. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  32. 4 out of 5

    Gary

  33. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey

  34. 4 out of 5

    jenni

  35. 4 out of 5

    Erin

  36. 5 out of 5

    Fiona Lazare

  37. 4 out of 5

    Celina Walker

  38. 5 out of 5

    S

  39. 5 out of 5

    Beth Lauren

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