Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Paprika (Papurika)

Directed by the late Kon Satoshi and released in 2006, Paprika is one of the most mesmerizing movies you could ever hope to see. What can only be described as the anime film Stanley Kubrick might have directed if had chosen to direct such films, Paprika stands tall above many of its fellow animated brethren as a visually outstanding and conceptually bizarre piece of cinema. 

There are few movies I find as fascinating as Paprika. Animated or not, there just aren't movies made like this anymore. I'm talking about movies that are designed to be experienced rather than just seen. I'm talking about movies that will blow the hinges off your mind and leave you wondering what planet you are on. I've seen my fair share of summer blockbusters and CGI effect bonanzas, but very few of them are legitimately fascinating. 

Paprika is fascinating and marvelous. I'd recommend it to anyone. Even if you've never seen anime. And if you like Inception you will probably get a kick out of this movie too because Christopher Nolan was influenced by this movie to a certain degree when he made his film. Although, if you really care to compare them like many on the internet have chosen to do so, you'll find that they aren't the same and Paprika is by far the more surreal of the two. 

Plot-wise, Paprika is about a dream terrorist and the unlucky few who get the job of fighting him. Chiba Atsuko and her dream alter-ego Paprika are on the frontlines of this dream assault as they try to piece together who could be behind the theft of the dream therapy device, the DC Mini. Whoever this thief is happens to be using the DC Mini to invade the dreams of others and drive them insane. 

It certainly won't be an easy job because as the fight against the dream terrorist is prolonged reality and the dream world begin to collide. 

I won't go too much more into the story than that because this is a movie meant to be experienced rather than summarized. 

The dialogue and plot are certainly important, but there are times where a coherent understanding of what is happening seems less important than what you are seeing. At times you'll probably feel confused and wonder what the hell is going on, but everything looks so damn cool you really don't make a big deal about it. 

This movie thrives so much on the outlandish that you really can't just sit and "digest" it after one viewing, anyway. Repeated viewings are certainly recommended. However, the dialogue is the key to understanding the story. I watched the subtitled version with the Japanese dialogue and managed to hold my own for pretty much all of the film, but you might need to watch the dubbed version in order to really pay attention to what is going on. 

I can't speak for the dubbed version, but I will say that the music on the subbed version is excellent and very fitting. This is actually the first film to use a Vocaloid on its soundtrack. You might not know what that is, but it has this bizarre sound that fits perfectly with this type of movie. You know how Justin Bieber isn't a real singer? Well, Vocaloid singers aren't even real because they are programs, but they still sing better than the Beibs. 

Anyway, I highly recommend this flick. 

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