Thursday, November 29, 2007


Forget Disney. Forget Pixar. Forget Sailor Moon or other pre-conceptions you may or may not have about Anime. Japanese maestro Satoshi Kon has over the course of four feature films set out to redefine the boundaries of what an animated film can do. If Hayao Miyazaki is the Steven Spielberg of the anime world, then Satoshi Kon is Stanley Kubrick. All of Kon's features are aimed squarely at adults and aim for characters and story over moralizing and action. Paprika is a celebration of life, passion, and ultimately the joy of going to the movies. A celebration taken so far the that joy actually becomes something terrifying in its own way. Take for instance, one of the key images of the film, that of a parade consisting of a hodgepodge of, well, everything (from frogs playing musical instruments to the Statue of Liberty to walking street signs). The way the images dominate the screen and march inexorably and happily onward is one of the most gorgeous things done with the animated medium, but it's also pretty intimidating and scary. The film jumps off the screen with these images, as well as a host of different film genres all contained within a sociological and science-fiction framework. It's a lot to take in on one viewing, but your brain will sizzle and pop merrily along the way.

The story involves a small team of psychiatrists and electrical engineers who have designed a machine which they call the D.C. Mini. It's a handy little device that lets one person enter into the dreams of another and interact with the dreamer. The idea is that the doctor can better understand the problems of the patient if they can operate in the virtual reality of the patient's subconscious. The lead character, a cold and frigid psychologist is allowed to exist in alter-ego as free spirit in others dreams. A hardboiled detective is having trouble sleeping and plagued by guilt, but gets to be Tarzan swinging on vines in an endless jungles. Of course the wrong people get their hands on this little device and threaten to commit crime or make a run for power. But forget the story (and struggle through some of the early exposition in the film) and let the images seep into your being, it speaks to the core.

If the collective dream of humanity has been science (a landmark being a man landing on the moon) and technology, and the first artform born of science is the motion picture. What better film to reaffirm the joys of simply going to the movies.


Anonymous Marina said...

I was on the fence on which version of the DVD to buy and then, I simply never picked it up. No excuse now though.

6:53 p.m.  

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