Tuesday, July 24, 2007


From an email I recently sent to a friend:

I went to see Satoshi Kon's "Paprika" over a week ago. I was a bit distracted at the time, and so had trouble giving it my full attention. But then, it's the sort of movie that's presents difficulties similar to those in "Revolutionary Girl Utena." It's difficult to keep track of just which symbolic/surreal world you're watching at any given moment. In the case of RGU, of course, we've got a film that's retelling a story that's been told twice before in my expansive forms; so there's a problem of condensation. As far as I know, "Paprika" isn't like that. But it's still a challenging film.

I sense that here's a mode of organization that's more Japanese than Western so that one can't simply attend to it through the foreground-action focus that works for Western stories. You need to de-couple from the foreground action and simply let the gestalt wash over you.

Beyond that, we really struck me is how much "Paprika" seemed to be in thematic and imagistic dialogue with other films, including earlier ones by Kon, but also Miyazaki ("Spirited Away," "Princess Mononoke"), Takahata ("Pom Poko"), and Oshi ("Innocence"), Otomo ("Akira"). We've got dolls, carnivalesque parades (of kitchen appliances, and frogs), a human reminiscent of Miyazaki's Night Walker (and, in a way, of Akira), and shrinks and detectives (Kon's own milieu). It's quite a collection of "stuff."

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