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I recently had a chance to see this new anime feature from Satoaki Kon and wow! The animation is mindblowing and the soundtrack is terrific, perhaps the best mix of music and frenetic action since Run Lola Run. Without giving too much away, the plot concerns a research scientist, dream manipulation, a dream manipulation agent/alter ego with the name Paprika, and a lot of freaky stuff happening.

I'll need to see it again at least once to figure out all that was going on, but I loved the experience. Definitely one of my favorites this year, right up there with Ratatouille.

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This is coming to Lincoln later this month, and I can't wait. I've been a huge fan of pretty much everything that Satoshi Kon has done to date (the only work of his that I found less than compelling was the third volume of Paranoia Agent). He's easily one of the most original voices working in anime today.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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Here's Grady Hendrix's review:

I'm being a big, wet girl for admitting this, but halfway through the credit sequence for PAPRIKA, the new animated film from Satoshi Kon (PERFECT BLUE, TOKYO GODFATHERS), I got choked up. I wasn't near tears because anything sad was happening, but because I was happy.

After a brief opening scene PAPRIKA launches into a credits sequence where its main character floats through nighttime Tokyo and I haven't seen a piece of film that's sharper or smarter in a long time and it really got to me.

Because he's an animator, and has to draw every sigh, every piece of garbage, every blink of an eye, Satoshi Kon scrutinizes real life more closely than most directors and he doesn't take anything for granted. When he shows you a woman out by herself in a big city late at night he's condensing everything real about that situation into three short minutes, putting it under high pressure and tweaking it with animation to kick it slightly off-center. He pulls reality so tightly that when he plays it, it sings.

The film's website was playing a clip of the opening credits sequence for awhile, and I have to agree with Hendrix: it was incredibly exhilirating and imaginative.

Edited by opus

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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I'm really glad to see that people are responding so well to this film. This was my #1 pick for 2006 on the Senses of Cinema end of the year poll, and now almost a year since I last saw it, I'm still very passionate about it. It has the right balance of inventiveness and homage, and I think it makes a pretty relevant statement about the nature of psychological terrorism and how we enable it by letting it feed off our own fears.

Anyway, so far this year, I've been fortunate enough to see another animation film that has really excited me as much as Paprika. It's Tachigui: The Amazing Lives of the Fast Food Grifters by Mamoru Oshii of Ghost in the Shell. If you liked the intelligence and deliriousness of Paprika, then this one is right up there. It's a chronicle of Japan's postwar history from the perspective of con artists who try to get free meals from fast food joints, and how their tactics are a reflection of Japanese society's dramatic transformation. It's absolutely brilliant!

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Anyway, so far this year, I've been fortunate enough to see another animation film that has really excited me as much as Paprika. It's Tachigui: The Amazing Lives of the Fast Food Grifters by Mamoru Oshii of Ghost in the Shell. If you liked the intelligence and deliriousness of Paprika, then this one is right up there. It's a chronicle of Japan's postwar history from the perspective of con artists who try to get free meals from fast food joints, and how their tactics are a reflection of Japanese society's dramatic transformation. It's absolutely brilliant!

I think I read something about Tachigui on Twitch awhile ago -- the Oshii name instantly had me intrigued. Like Kon, anything with the Oshii name is worth getting excited about, IMHO.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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Ah, probably! I caught Tachigui at Film Comment Selects in February, but that's a two week catch-all program for unreleased (festival) films from the previous year (although Verhoeven's Black Book did get released after that, and Costa's Colossal Youth continues to make the rounds), so I'm sure it had already screened in Asia in 2006 at several festivals. Unlike Paprika which is straight animation, Tachigui is more of a combination of live action film that's been turned to stills and "puppet" animated. But both films give off that sense of sensorial saturation that's very infectious.

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I saw Paprika last night, and my head is still spinning.

This movie explores some of the same questions and idea raised in The Matrix, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and especially Wim Wenders' Until the End of the World. It challenges us with troubling observations on the direction that a media-saturated culture is taking, as human invention becomes, more and more, a collage of pieces borrowed from other human inventions, taking us farther and farther from the natural, the true, and the real, and deeper and deeper (or shallower and shallower) into our own self-indulgent wishes and dreams. And even as it does so, the film is very self-aware that it, too, is just such a product, and so it plainly and unapologetically "quotes," borrows, and steals from filmmakers like Tarantino, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Walt Disney, and (especially) Kurosawa. I caught references to Blade Runner, Amelie, and so many more I quit jotting them down. There's even an interesting twist on "The Emperor's New Clothes" here.

It asks, What happens to our own dreams when we let ourselves be swept up in a world made up of the dreams and inventions of others? Is the human impulse to dream and create a fundemantally flawed impulse, or is it innocent, and what we *do* with those dreams is where the trouble comes in? Can a culture "declare war" on another culture through dreams? Can we "bomb" each other with ideas?

But the film doesn't just refer to other movies. It is its own profound journey, one of the few hyperkinetic anime films in which the insight and profound observation are as relentless and engaging as the images themselves.

This is immediately a favorite, one I'll be purchasing, studying, and sharing with friends. I have that rare feeling that I've just taken my first step in a long relationship with this movie.

I encourage everybody to see it. It'll be near the top of my list this year.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Just got back from seeing Paprika, and I (and my wife) enjoyed it quite a bit. I don't know if it's my favorite Satoshi Kon film -- I think that might be Millennium Actress -- but when you're dealing with a director whose body of work is as strong and unique as Kon's is, I think trying to rank is kind of pointless.

Not everything works in the film -- the subplot involving the police detective didn't feel as integrated with or as crucial to the rest of the film as it was presented to be -- but what does work works so brilliantly that it doesn't really matter. The opening credit sequence is so full of life and joy and imagination that it brings tears to my eyes every time (I've watched it several times on both the film's official website and YouTube). The meshing of reality and un-reality is done so well, with its layers upon layers, that saying you have no idea what's going on is actually a compliment. The scene where the "real" world shatters like glass, revealing another world (or worlds) behind it is such a fascinating image, one that I can't really get out of my mind.

One thing that I appreciated about the film is that it doesn't take time to explain how its inner workings, well, work. Sure, there's some technobabble about the DC mini (the device that allows the characters to enter others' dreams), and some psychological mumbo-jumbo about wavelengths and whatnot, but its not nearly as fetishized as you might thing. Instead, Kon just throws everything at the viewer, and its up to the viewer to decide whether they'll sink or swim. This is nothing new for Kon -- he does the exact same thing in Millennium Actress, which is even more fantastical than Paprika, and Paranoia Agent -- and he does it better than most.

From a technical standpoint, the film is wonderful. Madhouse proves once again why they're one of the premier animation studios in existence today, with such a vibrant and skillful blend of traditional cel animation and CGI. Susumu Hirasawa's music is the perfect counterpoint to Kon's visuals -- playful and joyous, and yet alien and disturbing at the same time. I plan on getting the soundtrack very soon

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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FWIW, I just posted my review.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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I got the Paprika soundtrack earlier this week, and suffice to say, it might be one of my fave releases this year. Wonderful electronic music that at times reminds me of Erasure at their finest, before going down some dark rabbit hole. One track in particular -- "Mediational Field", which plays throughout the trailer -- ends in a gorgeous manner that almost always brings a few tears to my eyes.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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  • 1 month later...

For those who like to collect shiny discs, Paprika comes out on DVD on November 27, 2007. I've already set aside space on my shelf.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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  • 2 months later...
For those who like to collect shiny discs, Paprika comes out on DVD on November 27, 2007. I've already set aside space on my shelf.

Rented it, with a little bit of fear and trepidation seeing the "R" rating for violence and sex. While I am admittedly under-experienced (and glad of it) of the nastier side of Japanese movie making, I'm aware of enough that I was dreading what might develop as visual or thematic plot points. Thankfully the artists chose not to go down that road as far as they could have, and so the R-rated scenes did not feel gratuitous or pornographic. Still, there were certainly some disturbing scenes and imagery, making the movie not a cartoon for kids.

And if you are someone who is creeped-out by dolls heads and such, well, this is NOT the movie for you!

That said, I was entranced by this movie. Beautiful artwork, dreams (and nightmares) come to life, a musical score that exhilarates and unsettles - sometimes in the same scene. Some of the CG work was delicate and lovely, like in the clouds of butterflies, or in the tassels on the hanging lanterns, for instance.

I got lost a couple times during the dialog, knowing who was referring to whom. The characters are visually distinct, and easy to keep straight. But they seemed to have multiple names and nicknames, or something, and I didn't always know who they were talking about. (I watched with the English dub because I didn't want to be distracted from the visuals by having to read subtitles.)

Don't know what more to talk about here without putting spoiler tags everywhere. A thought-provoking, unsettling - but also uplifting - film. Thanks to everyone here in this thread for the recommendation.

B

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Rented it, with a little bit of fear and trepidation seeing the "R" rating for violence and sex. While I am admittedly under-experienced (and glad of it) of the nastier side of Japanese movie making, I'm aware of enough that I was dreading what might develop as visual or thematic plot points. Thankfully the artists chose not to go down that road as far as they could have, and so the R-rated scenes did not feel gratuitous or pornographic. Still, there were certainly some disturbing scenes and imagery, making the movie not a cartoon for kids.

That's Satoshi Kon for you. His work is most definitely on the mature side (and definitely not for the kids), but I would never consider anything of his to be gratuitous. Even his more graphic stuff, like Perfect Blue (which is quite a bit more sexually explicit than Paprika) is handled with a great deal of maturity and artistry.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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We appreciated Millennium Actress but I think I enjoyed Paprika more. (My wife did not watch P with me, since she is sensitive to scenes of graphic violence or sexual violence, and P was an unknown in that regard.) I'm not sure MA grabbed me as much (as a story). But it was still top notch - and did not have the (potentially offensive) scenes to complicate it.

Regarding some of the themes and story of Paprika here are a couple questions for any of you who saw it, spoiler-tagged for your protection:

(1) I liked the police detective subplot - though as opus mentioned it was perhaps not as tightly woven into the story as it could have been. But did anyone else think the mystery of his past was going a different place?

It seemed to me some of the hints and foreshadowing were leading to the big reveal that his anxiety was caused by a past homosexual incident or relationship gone bad, something that happened when he was 17. To have his story resolve around being unable to complete a dream project of creating a movie came as a surprise - a welcome one, though, since the "I-was-traumatized-by-sex" story is a bit cliche at this point. Or was the homosexual subtext still there, and I'm missing something?

(2) What the heck is it with Japanese artists and

tentacles? Even when they are used in non-sexual contexts (as in Nausicaa, for example), they are all over the place in anime.

(3) In the final confrontation, Paprika says something about

"everything has its opposite, for man its a woman" and then she goes to take on the dream giant. I thought this would lead to some kind of yin-yang event where the two of them cancel each other out, or merge into one "complete" being. I was a little puzzled by the resolution, where Paprika swallowed up the "bad" dream giant, and remained standing alone.

Is there another interpretation of that event that I'm not seeing?

(4) Just a comment - I appreciated how the romantic tension was resolved in an unexpected way,

with the doctor confessing her affection for the inventor, in the replay of the "stuck-in-elevator" scene. Tender and unexpected. The conventional resolution would have been for her to go off into the sunset with the policeman who saved her. (Or, in a tragedy - have everyone die miserably...

:) ).

B

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(2) What the heck is it with Japanese artists and

tentacles? Even when they are used in non-sexual contexts (as in Nausicaa, for example), they are all over the place in anime.

I blame Hokusai.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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  • 1 year later...

Yasutaka Tsutsui's Paprika novel -- upon which the movie was based -- will be translated into English and released this April. You can read the first seven chapters here.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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  • 1 year later...

Wolfgang Petersen Develops Live-Action "Paprika" Film:

Petersen notes that his representatives first introduced him to the story through Kon's anime film: "And I saw it and bingo, I thought this is fantastic. This is a great piece. That will be a very very interesting movie." Although he plans to make the story a little more accessible for a mainstream audience, he compares the story to The Matrix in its scope.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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Isn't it enough that Caprica is ripping off the DC-Mini with its Holo-band? I really can't imagine Paprika working as a live-action story, no matter who was directing it.

While we're on the subject, here's some news on the live-action remake of Akira being produced by Appian Way (Dicaprio's company). According to the report, the Hughes Brothers are in talks to direct.

Edited by tyler1984

It's the side effects that save us.
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I'm not really a fan of the potential remake, either. There are some things that are only effective as animated works. I doubt any live action sequence could evoke half of the emotions and sensations as the opening sequence of Paprika, which succeeds -- IMHO -- precisely because it is animated. Furthermore, if there was a filmmaker who could even come close to pulling off such a transition, Petersen wouldn't be my first choice.

And as far as I'm concerned, the less said about an Akira live-action remake, the better.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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I'm not really a fan of the potential remake, either. There are some things that are only effective as animated works.

Yes.

I doubt any live action sequence could evoke half of the emotions and sensations as the opening sequence of Paprika, which succeeds -- IMHO -- precisely because it is animated.

Yes, again.

Furthermore, if there was a filmmaker who could even come close to pulling off such a transition, Petersen wouldn't be my first choice.

Heavens, no.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I haven't seen Paprika. Is it set in the ocean? How will Petersen direct a movie if it doesn't heavily involve the ocean? Will he force a change to the setting so that it takes place in the ocean? Will he-

"You know...not EVERY story has to be interesting." -Gibby

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  • 3 years later...

I found a Blu-ray of this at Barnes and Noble for $12. Since it's in the A+F top 100, since I've been trying to rent a copy without success for some time, and since that seemed like a good deal, I decided to buy it sight unseen.

WOW. That was a great decision. Paprika is one of the most amazing film experiences I've had in awhile. I was always second guessing what was happening, the imagery was breathtaking, the synthesized score worked perfectly, and there were just enough ethical questions to connect the themes without becoming heavy-handed. I absolutely loved it.

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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