Paprika [FB]
August 23rd, 2011 by Dan

Paprika 720p Trailer

The titular character

I take great joy in watching the arc of an auteur’s style and career. Take Satoshi Kon. He’s had a relatively sparse directorial career that was tragically cut short due to pancreatic cancer, but there is a clear thread running through his work that I can trace from Perfect Blue all the way to Paprika (I’ve still yet to see Perfect Blue or Tokyo Godfathers, but they’re high on my list). Like Paranoia Agent before it, Paprika deals heavily with the subconscious/unconscious mind while also tying in the cinema history/construction of Millennium Actress. Dreams, reality, and obsession were also major themes of Perfect Blue, but I can’t speak to that without having seen it.

So there’s this master arc that traces through of cinematic quirks and decisions that point to one man making all the decisions and I adore that. Movies can easily become mass market-appealing drivel with too many chefs in the kitchen, but not Kon’s work. There’s style here.

From the surreal dreamscape of the opening that transitions into my favorite opening credit sequence in an anime movie ever, this movie just never stops. Set in a world where technology allows therapists to share dreams with patients for treatment, our main character, Chiba, whose alter ego in dream therapy is Paprika, discovers that the dream hardware has been hacked, giving a malicious terrorist access to the fragile minds of any patient in therapy. The action begins after one of her coworkers minds is hijacked into the dream, causing a near-suicidal leap and plunge from a window.

I don’t want to spoil the arc this movie takes, but I will say that it’s reluctance to really get super disturbing was a shock to me. Don’t get me wrong, it still gets weird, uncomfortable, weird, and kind of scary, but it doesn’t go quite as deep as you’d expect, which was semi-disappointing to me after the way darker Paranoia Agent. I wanted to find myself unable to sleep last night, but the movie didn’t quite deliver there. Shonen Bat was a scarier villain, for sure, but I’m ok with trading him off for deep symbolism and subtle character revelation through dreams.

The rental I watched was the blu-ray release and it is absolutely gorgeous. I don’t usually fawn over the visual beauty of anime, so you know I’m being serious here. The lines are so sharp you could cut yourself while the color palette is especially varied and beautiful. If you can get your hands on a high definition cut of this film, pretend no other version exists.

Paprika is not a perfect movie. It can get a little confusing and it fails to deliver on the truly horrifying, settling for pretty damn horrifying and unsettling, but this is a movie that you should watch. Find it, watch it, and hope that Dreaming Machine finds enough financial backing to get released posthumously.

Paprika 720p Trailer

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