Special Screening: Paprika w/ Satoshi Kon, Get out of my dreams, get into my car.

Well, this little shindig was rather spontaneous, we only got the notice that we got the tickets the morning of the event! It would have been quite easy to miss it. But somehow the anime gods smiled down!

I don’t always check my email in the morning and I can’t check my personal email at work so it was luck that I got to go and was able to let Narutaki know. There were enough people who tried to get tickets that a lottery had to be held so the fact that we got tickets is a little bit of luck in itself. There were quite a few people hoping to get unclaimed seats when I entered the theater so I guess we should be thankful. I guess the anime gods decided that a Satoshi Kon review was in order.

I had never been to the Imaginasian Theater, though I had always wanted to go. The building definitely seemed old and I think there is just the one theater we were in if I’m not mistaken. But it is nice to have someplace, anyplace, dedicated to showing Asian films. The line outside was rather disorganized and quite a few people were complaining about the lack preparation. However, we got in fine, saw some familiar faces, and had perfectly good seats. This event was sponsored by All Nippon Airways and we got free popcorn!

It was a nice enough theater. Nothing stood out as amazing but nothing was horrible about it. I would definitely go see another movie there, especially since they cater to such a interesting niche. I hope we can go back and catch Sword of the Stranger. That looks like it could be good. I love almost anything that is free and free popcorn is especially good. So thank you ANA. Of course since I am immature all I could think of was one thing. An their logo does not help one bit. Does this mean I am on the path to becoming a fujoshi. I hope not.

Yes, actually it does mean that. And we are so going to see Sword of the Stranger, I have been hyping that movie in my mind for almost a year. Satoshi Kon spoke briefly before the film and answered a few questions. I was really enjoying his thoughts on dreams. He was mentioning how he felt it was painful to hear other peoples’ dreams because it is almost impossible to understand them. Dreams are so personal that they mean very little to anyone else. So he really focuses on the visual aspects of dreams.

I oddly enough like to hear about other peoples’ dreams. Dreams can be rather abstract therefore it’s sometimes hard do dig out an insight from them but they tend to be a rather unguarded part of people minds that they share despite this fact. I will agree that dreams can be very personal and therefore will not mean as much to another person, but there are some commonalities in dreams as well. How many people have had the dream where they arrive at a test they are totally unprepared for? Or are running from something they can’t see but they know is horrible? Some dreams are just for you and others are universal.

You are right about some common things that everyone dreams about. However, I think interpreting a dream is all over the place. You mentioned some basic ones that generally everyone sees in the same way, but every culture has different ways of interpreting things in dreams so I think this is where it can become very personal. Someone also asked how he balances the need for commercial success and his own artistic merit. He made some amusing comments about he isn’t actually commercially successful quite yet because he has odd taste. He then spoke about pleasing his fans and continuing to do that while pushing his work into the commercial light. I don’t know if his films will ever reach the height of Ghibli but I do think his audience grows more and more with each one released. He is also very well known in film and artistic communities so his continued success seems eminent.

I can’t see his movies getting to the universal acceptance of a Studio Ghibli movie unless he changes his directorial style and I get the impression that he does not want that. He makes artistic movies that appeal to people who watch artistic movies. Studio Ghibli makes artistic films that appeal to families so they getting more box office. I think if he wanted to make movies with a more universal appeal he could but he chooses to satisfy himself and his fan-base by staying with his own personal approach to movies.

You absolutely on the mark there, but I think he will still grow to be a very well-known director and become much more successful before he is through. Not everyone will know him, not everyone will like his style, but he will be adored by those that do.

Paprika is about a research team that develops a machine called the DC Mini, it lets you enter someone’s dreams and interact with them. The device was meant to be used as a psychotherapy tool to help people by examining their dreams. Before the device’s security features can be fully implemented, an unknown party steals the device and starts to use it to control and terrorize people. A dream terrorist. So it’s up to the research team to find out who stole the DC Mini before he can reek havoc on the minds of the research team as well as everyone else in town.

I had started watching Paprika a couple of weeks ago but only finished about one-third. This was not because I wasn’t interested in what was going on but just a timing issue. So it was fun going into this not knowing everything that was going to happen on the screen. And is quite an expected ride. What caught me originally and seeing it on the big screen even more so is the opening credits. I love the movement, the music, and the playfulness. In fact, this film really combines suspense and humor in just the right amounts.

This was my second time seeing the film so I got to go back and see what things were hinted at in the beginning that seemed insignificant the first time through. It’s not exactly like Fight Club or The Sixth Sense where there is some major twist to go back and reflect upon, but the movie is complex enough that a second viewing will show you some additional layers. It’s also worth a second viewing if for nothing else the lush visuals. The dreamscapes are beautifully animated and strikingly colored so they are extremely pleasing to eye. The characters are well developed in the short amount of time they are on the screen and are generally realistic people.

Paprika is a “dream movie star.” She appears in your dreams and helps you through them, to understand them, and to ultimately win against them. She is all things and anything in the dream world but most often appears as young woman. She is like the link between reality and imagination but you are never quite sure if she exists in one or the other or both.

Paprika and Atsuko Chiba are definitely Satoshi Kon characters. They seem to be part of the same spiritual family as Chiyoko Fujiwara (Millennium Actress) and Mima Kirigoe (Perfect Blue). All of them are women with a links to a blurry line between their dreams and their realities. Paprika is the women of your dreams. I would go as far as to say that she is more a piece of the dreams of everyone she interacts with rather than the avatar of one person. This is despite what she was originally meant to be. I think Paprika is always supposed to be a creature of dreams but the real question is how real does that make her.

And that really ties into the theme of the movie. Satoshi Kon’s whole thesis (to me) in his films is about what makes reality real and where do dreams end and how the two effect each other. It really came across in the dialogue when Paprika’s counterpart questions her with, “Why don’t you listen? You are a part of me!” to which Paprika replies, “Have you ever thought that maybe you are a part of me?” So the line is blurred and as the viewer you certainly have your opinion on what is real in the film, you also realize that one couldn’t exist without the other.

I feel his movies can also be about the danger of falling too far into your dreams to the point where you damage your real life. If you ignore either part of your existance the other part is damaged and in the end you become damaged as well. Both parts are integral to your life but it’s important to keep them separate and balanced. All the characters except Paprika in the movie ignore or overindulge some aspect of their existance and suffer for it.

To round out this discussion I thought it apt to mention Paprika’s comparison of dreams to the Internet. I found it very poignant. Where else can you pretend you are someone else when awake? I think it is just another example of how dreams cross over into the world of reality. How far the Internet has come from merely being an information source.

There is a character who often interacts with his dream by going online. He receives therapy and interacts with the others characters in the dream world while using the Internet. In a way the Internet is filled with mundaneness, fantasy, hope, joy, madness, and nightmares just like dreams. The Internet is, as always, also where people can run away from their reality.

I loved this movie. It is my favorite Satoshi Kon film. It is funny because I saw Perfect Blue when it first came out in English and it almost ruined Kon for me. Not that it was a bad film, on the contrary, I thought it was very good. But that movie scared me and I don’t like to be scared in a psychological manner. It stuck with me and made me almost never watch another of his films again. I am sure glad I got over it.



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