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Paprika

Posted on Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

Dave!"The 24-bit eggplant will be analyzed!"

I always pay a visit to Rotten Tomatoes before I even think about seeing a movie. But when I noticed that Satoshi Kon had a new film out called パプăƒȘă‚« (Papurika = Paprika) I didn't care what any critic might have to say. This is the genius behind one of the best animated films ever, Millennium Actress, and I knew immediately that I simply must see it. I had essentially been working two jobs all day, and this was just what I needed to decompress before going back to the hotel for another five hours of work that still needed to be done.

Turns out I didn't need to worry. Rotten Tomatoes has an aggregated score of 90% Fresh for Paprika, and I totally loved it.

Paprika4

The story centers around a brilliant woman psychologist named Dr. Chiba who is working with a team of dream research scientists. Thanks to the invention of a device known as "DC Mini" she can enter the dreams of patients as her psychic alter-ego, Paprika, and help them with their psychological problems. Unfortunately, a set of three DC Mini devices are stolen, and somebody is using them to merge reality into the dream world. It's now up to Dr. Chiba/Paprika to figure out how to track down the devices, find out who is behind the theft, and save the world from madness.

The result is a mind-bending explosions of animated imagery that's about the coolest thing you'll see this year.

Paprika1

Paprika2

Paprika3

To be honest though, this movie will not appeal to everybody. People who don't care for Japanese anime may be put off by the fantastical story elements and nonsensical visuals that permeate the film. Another problem is that the plot for Paprika may be difficult to follow for those used to having every last detail spelled out for them, and don't like to use their imagination to fill in the blanks. But if you can put your brain on hold and just go with it, this in one film that's really worth seeing.

And as much as I enjoyed Paprika, the movie soundtrack is almost even more impressive, and has some very cool music by Susumu Hirasawa (who also scored Millennium Actress). The film's theme song The Girl in Byakkoya has been stuck in my head from the moment the movie started. Fortunately the track is available at the iTunes Music Store, so I can obsess over it until my mind goes mooshy. If you even think you might like Japanese Electronica... you can sample the album at iTMS (Meditation Field and A Drop Filled with Memories are beautiful).

Lastly, for anybody interested, Apple has the super-sweet movie trailer for Paprika on their QuickTime site, which will give you a taste of what you're in for (turn your volume way up to hear that amazing Hirasawa soundtrack!).

How depressing that Japan regularly cranks out these amazing animated art-pieces that are challenging and thought-provoking, and we get tired retread shit like Shrek III. Blargh.


Categories: Movies 2007Click To It: Permalink
   

Comments

  1. carlos says:

    Dave,

    Have you seen ‘Perfect Blue’ by Satoshi Kon? It’s also a complex story that demands repeat veiwings. Defining what’s reality and what’s reality through the perception of Mina makes it challenging. Great stuff.

    Also didn’t Kon do the ‘Magnetic Rose’ portion of the movie ‘Memories’? I haven’t seen it in a while but remember that story resonating with me emotionally.

    Oh, and I also love me some ‘Millenium Actress’ and am insanely jealous you got to see his new film. It hasn’t made it to St. Louis yet.

  2. undisciplined says:

    Thanks for the recommendation! One reason I love Japanese animation is that it often leaves the viewer to use their own imagination. No need for lengthy, detailed explanations. Sadly, it seems most cartoons made in the USA now must be a good candidate for merchandising above all else. Bleah. I’d take a good story over some lunchbox with a stupid anthropomorphized car plastered on it.

  3. Avitable says:

    With all that we have in common, this is one area where we take completely separate paths. I find the entire Japanese comics and animation medium to be style over substance, predictable, illogical, and typically without merit.

    Unless there are octopi involved, and vaginas. Then I’m hooked.

  4. Jeff says:

    Very cool! It looks like an acid trip for people who don’t want to bother with all the deadly side affects of the real thing.

  5. Never heard of “Millennium Actress”, it’s now officially on my list as I just saw Paprika this weekend. Like you said it’s a little confusing (but visually stunning) and the cRaZy scenes really are on insane end of the spectrum.

  6. Jacquie says:

    I’m so not a fan of Japanimation. Never have been although I still like breaking out the ol’ “wonder twin powers… activate” every now and then for nostalgias sake ;)

  7. Wayne Hall says:

    Is the “tired retread” piece a pun?

    I may give the trailer a shot, and who knows, might even see the movie. I’m not known for my high levels of taste, so pretty much I can watch and probably enjoy anything. Especially Shrek the Third. AND the last episode of Sopranos. AND Dune, Xanadu, Breakin’, and many other movies that would make most people’s heads explode.

    But I don’t look for these kind of animation movies. Anytime I see part of them, I’m reminded of being 7-9 years old and watching Battle of the Planets. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was a very happy time. I just miss those times I guess. =sniff=

  8. Dan says:

    Hey, Shrek III wasn’t that bad. I actually thought it was pretty good. But then, maybe I’m easily amused. After all, I read your blog!

  9. Mike says:

    That looks totally awesome. Unfortunatly, it looks like it’s not playing around here.

    :-(

  10. mikeo says:

    The animation looks good but I think a lot of people like to just be entertained rather than involved in thinking about what just happened. I enjoy CGI but I’ll also remove my brain to just enjoy it. If I want to really think about what’s going on I’ll watch Twelve Monkeys again.

  11. ajooja says:

    I have a regular route I take every Friday morning — from Rotten Tomatoes, to E! Movies page, to Roger Ebert, to ReelViews, finally landing at Metacrtic — to check out the new releases.

    I don’t go exactly by what the critics say, but I can’t imagine seeing a movie without a general idea.

  12. Jhianna says:

    Interesting trailer – I’ve never paid much attention to anime, but I’ll give that one a shot when it comes out on DVD.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The important question here is….

    Do you say PAP-ree-kuh or pu-PREE-kuh?

    Ahem.

  14. Cavan says:

    Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any of Kon’s movies…though they’re all on my ZipList. When I saw the trailer for this one, I got downright excitable. Can’t wait to see it.

  15. melina says:

    LOL…I totally do a premovieviewing Rotten Tomatoes visit also. I have heard super things about Paprika. I welcome an opportunity to turn my brain off.

    Great post Dave2!

  16. Hilly says:

    Uh the idiot who asked how you pronounce paprika is me; apparently I’m not logged in to Blogography all over the globe ;).

  17. Jacki says:

    I can’t wait to check it out.

    I also read an article where Rob Thomas is curretly in negotiations with DC Comics to bring back Veronica Mars in comic form.

    I think that the idea is good, and any Veronica is better than no Veronica.

  18. bogup says:

    How do you pronounce Paprika?
    My choice is papreeeeeeeka.

  19. MrsRW says:

    I can take Princess Granddaughter to see Shrek 3 and we’ll both understand and like it. Paprika? Somehow I don’t think either one of us would get it. Probably because my appreciation of animation is on the 3-year-old level. Oh well…gotta find Nemo.

  20. I’m already mesmerized by the frog parade picture. Perhaps I should hunt this film down.

  21. Baak says:

    There are some seriously amazing animes out there – truly astonishing and light years ahead of anything coming out of the States. Possibly because they aren’t 100% focused on the bottom line like most everything is here.

    I’ve been waiting for a new one to arrive for several years now, after ripping through all the best ones I could find and watching them several times. There are a *lot* of so-so-mainly-for-kids-or-teens animes – it’s unfortunate the hundreds (thousands?) of different ones get lumped into one category and so most people think of them all as the same. I found one video store in a college town that had an entire long wall of nothing but anime with the DVD’s on shelves like books (so you saw the edge only) – there were a LOT of them!!

    But finding the really good ones has been a major challenge. I’ve yet to find a good single source of information to do so.

    This appears to be another one! Thanks for the head’s up! :D

    Weird note: When I was a kid I had a mechanical robot toy that looked a lot like that image (other than the human face on front), right down to the red lights shaped like Rolo’s for ears on a square head and the round, pincer-type hands. It came from Japan, so perhaps it’s a “known” toy over there.

  22. Baak says:

    [Sorry for the double post – I hit Post instead of Preview – Doh!]

    One other thing I wanted to mention for the Anime newbies:

    I love really good Anime but at first I really disliked a couple of Hayao Miyazaki’s animes – namely: Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle.

    What I discovered was that for some people such as myself, these simply had to be viewed more than once. I went back and watched these again and I now consider them masterpieces. I only discovered this after watching Howl’s Moving Castle the third time.

    I found this whole process as interesting and amazing as rediscovering these animes. To go from really disliking them to really liking them only after multiple viewings is astonishing.

    It’s as if there is so much going on – on so many levels – that you can’t take it all in with one viewing. They also seem to cross emotional and conscious/subconscious boundaries (for example, to me Spirited Away is like being inside a Japanese dream).

    My only gripe about animes is occasionally the dubbed voices for girls and younger women can be a bit “harsh”, such as the girl in Spirited Away.

    I would recommend watching them multiple times and see what happens. :)

  23. Dave2 says:

    Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle?

    Oh snap. Three of my all-time favorite anime films. Miyazaki is like a god to me, and I thoroughly love absolutely everything he has ever done.

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