Paprika and Moon

August 7, 2009

I’m a little late to the punch, but Paprika (2006) was pleasantly mindblowing.

Satoshi Kon did a fantastic job of distilling and capturing the “absurd” and “ludic” and summarily “ridiculous” nature of dreams. It might be that I identified with Paprika so well because those are the terms I’d use to characterize my own dreams… In any case, I loved that the imagery cheekily and unceasingly walked the line (Venn intersection?) between sensual, grotesque, and apocalyptic. Sasuga Madhouse!

Paprika: Parade

On top of all that, it was dizzyingly referential: Tinkerbells and Oedipuses, a hardline detective whose own dream is a skirmish of film archetypes, a dead ringer for Professor Xavier as the self-proclaimed guardian of the dream world—the last bastion of humanity in a technological age. I suspect that Dr. Shima’s below tirade must allude to at least a few waka or other premodern texts:

Even the five court ladies danced in sync to the frog’s flutes and drums. The whirlwind of recycled paper was a sight to see. It was like computer graphics. That I don’t support Technicolor parfaits and snobby petit bourgeois is common knowledge in Oceania! Now is the time to return home to the blue sky! The confetti will dance around the shrine gates. The mailbox and the refrigerator will lead the way!

And my last thought on the movie: Paprika is a mesmerizing character. Every time I, as a female viewer, felt the least bit creeped out or scared, she dove headlong into the fray, fighting with only her wit, surroundings, and no second thoughts (as when she leapt into the painting to become the Sphinx to Osanai’s Oedipus). What a gal.

I also saw indie sci-fi flick Moon (2009), which was very different in mood. And due perhaps to the combination of live-action and silver screen that was absent during my viewing of Paprika, I felt like I’d really been transported to the drama on the lunar surface, in a near-term but retro-styled world. I was a little shaken upon leaving the theater and finding that it was still daylight outside.

Moon: Sam Rockwell

I prayed fervently that my dreams would not feature the maniacal parade (above), so instead they’ve been drawing liberally from Moon and the random vestiges of years-old cinematic and pop-cultural experiences that have never been purged from my brain. (Like finding a crashed shuttle-rover and removing the astronaut’s helmet to reveal a dead Vegeta.) I think this is telling me that Millenium Actress (2001), as a story that blurs reality and cinema, is the Satoshi Kon film I should pursue next.

It doesn’t seem like I’ll be able to defend myself for long, though, because I’ve already started to see signs of the parade infiltrating my waking life. The dream world is merging with reality! The future is bleak.

Doll chair

Just kidding. But this chair made out of dolls is pretty creepy, huh?

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