Sunday, October 10, 2010

Paprika (2006)

This is the final part of out Satoshi Kon tribute. It comes on a day that is the final day of the NewYork Comicon, The final day of the New York Anime Festival and the final day of the New York Film Festival. In order to celebrate the life of Satoshi Kon, film maker and cartoonist, I'm going to repost the review of Kon's Paprika which I posted a couple of hours after seeing it at the New York Film Festival. To me this is the best way to go since the review has much of the joy one feels when one gets to see a Kon film for the first time.

Just back from the New York Film Festival Screening of Satoshi Kon's Paprika.

Kon's new film is not the dark mind warps of Perfect Blue or Paranoia Agent, this is closer to blending of real and unreal of Millennium Actress and Tokyo Godfathers light and airy touches. Its got its darkness but its mostly a light thriller.

(I'm not going to go into a discussion of specifics concerning the plot, since I was told things by reviews I read prior to seeing the film which, while they didn't reveal a great deal, spoiled just enough to take the wonder off some of the story and images) The plot concerns a device called a DC Mini which allows people to enter other peoples dreams. It also allows your dreams to be recorded for play back. Three of the revolutionary devices are stolen before they could be encoded with a software that will prevent total access to anyone at anytime, which means that anyone with the devices can not only enter anyone's dreams at anytime, but also enter there mind and put them into a dream of their choosing. Unfortunately the head of the project suddenly begins spouting nonsense (the result of being dropped in the dream of a mental patient) and before anyone can stop him he leaps from a high window. The race is on, with our heroes getting the help of a mysterious girl named Paprika, who seems to be able to move with in dreams in ways that are completely unnatural.

I love this movie. It takes a while to get going but once it does its really good (it has a gangbusters last third). Kon blends the real and the dream in ways that can only be done through animation (see his earlier films for how good he is at it). Its wonderfully done, so much so that you can never be sure whats real and whats not, as one character says late in the film, "is this real or is it a dream?" In the end you can not tell, especially as the worlds begin to overlap. I know for some, myself included, the plot line may seem a bit of been there and done that (ie Dreamscape) but Kon's visual sense pushes the film from a run of the mill retread into something worth going out and seeing.(As I said I'm not going to go into some of the wild things that Kon has cooked up for his dream world since somethings should remain a surprise.) For those looking for some of the darkness of Kon's Perfect Blue or Paranoia Agent, its not really here, actually the movie is frequently very funny. Certainly some of the dream imagery can be frightening and disturbing in a not normal (dream)) sort of way, but other than one moment where a villain shows how he can control anything in the dream world, there isn't anything thats mind twistingly scary. (Though that one moment is sure to send shivers up and down most peoples backs) This is just a good little fantastical thriller.

At this point I have to make a confession. This movie reduced to tears a couple of times. There are a couple of moments when this movie is like a shot of pure joy. The title sequence with its J-Pop ear worm of a song had the tears rolling down my face. Later when Paprika dives into a dream and rides a cloud the marriage of music and image, however fleeting had me blissed out. Best of all the films exploration of who we are underneath it all will make everyone grin from ear to ear.

See this movie. Its a good little thriller. Its not the best thing that director Satoshi Kon has done, but its a good time in the movies (which it celebrates).

I want to add that this is one of the truly great films that plays better the more you see it. I've seen this any number of times and with each viewing I keep finding things that make me go "Oh Wow" as I connect up bits of plot and story.

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