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Lost in translation

Blu-ray

This morning, I forced myself to sit down and watch Paprika… with an emphasis on forced, because I really did find it a chore to sit through. I have nothing against nonsensical films that operate in the world of dream logic - Mulholland Drive and Inferno being two of my absolute all-time favourites - but, if the director doesn’t know what he or she is doing, or loses his or her sense of perspective, it’s easy to lose track of what counts. With Paprika, I can only assume that, as with Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain (another dream logic film I saw recently and hated), everything made sense to writer/director Satoshi Kon in his head, but he was unable to translate this on to the screen in a way that resonated… with me at any rate. I never felt as if I was actually experiencing a dream, just viewing one nonsensical scene after another.

I'm not bland, I'm just not good at expressing my emotions.

“I’m not bland, I’m just not good at expressing my emotions.”

It doesn’t help that, unlike the other Satoshi Kon film I’ve seen, the excellent Tokyo Godfathers, the visual style is that bland, stilted, lifeless look that I (rightly or wrongly) associate with anime. Rather than moving their whole faces when they speak, characters’ mouths just open and close, and the voices (in the original Japanese - the English dub is unsurprisingly cringe-worthy) certainly don’t add any more life to these wooden personalities. There is some nice colour work, and a couple of interesting visual images, but most of the latter are to be found in the opening credits - really not a good sign. The designs are mostly bland and generic, and I find myself wondering how the same director could produce such inventive visuals in Tokyo Godfathers, working with a much more reality-based storyline, and yet give this high fantasy such an uninspired look.

I do intend to seek out Satoshi Kon’s other work - Perfect Blue and Millenium Actress - but I sincerely hope my enjoyment of Tokyo Godfathers wasn’t just a fluke.

4/10.

 
Posted: Monday, July 16, 2007 at 10:01 PM | Comments: 10
Categories: Animation | Blu-ray | Cinema | Reviews

 
Comments

1.

Told you!

Now go watch PROBLEM CHILD and HOME ALONE!!!!!!!!!!

;)

Posted by: ARCVILE, July 17, 2007 4:07 AM

2.

Why the ;) ? Neither of those were boring.

Posted by: Lyris, July 17, 2007 5:28 PM

3.

I have Problem Child, you have the remake of The House of Wax. :)

Posted by: Whiggles, July 17, 2007 5:32 PM

4.

Yeah! Go watch Problem Child! ROFLOL! You stupid Americaphile! How dare you make fun of anime! You're just too slow in the head! Go home and watch Rugrats!

Posted by: Todd S. Gallows, July 17, 2007 6:32 PM

5.

MILLENNIUM ACTRESS is truly magnificent, I think you'd enjoy it...

- - -

"MILLENNIUM ACTRESS is another strong step forward in terms of the types of stories that can be told in animation, and in some regards, it uses the medium in a subtle way that might be overlooked by some viewers. I heard a few people afterwards say, "That could have been live-action, and it would have been just the same," but that’s not true. This is the story of a woman who became a screen legend in her teens that follows her through almost 70 years. By using animation to tell the story instead of make-up and a series of different actresses, we are allowed to lose ourselves in this journey across time and really believe that we are watching someone’s whole life represented. The film plays with time and reality in a sophisticated manner, and there’s a gentle, quiet longing to the whole thing that surprised me. It’s 180 degrees away from PERFECT BLUE in terms of content, but much of the technique on display here is similar. An interview about her career and a mysterious key that is returned to her set Chiyoko Fujiwara on a trip through her own past, as well as that of Japanese cinema. A number of genres are represented here as we see scenes from Chiyoko’s work, including science-fiction, Godzilla films, samurai films, and romantic epics. Through it all, Chiyoko chases after a phantom, the image of a man she loved as a young woman, a man she barely knew. There’s enormous heartbreak just under the surface here, and quite a few people were moved to visible tears by the film’s resolution. Satoshi Kon was present on Saturday, and he was rewarded with a five minute standing ovation at the end of the movie."

Posted by: Anon, July 18, 2007 4:06 AM

6.

Ahahhaha you deleted my second post!
Ok...

Posted by: ARCVILE, July 19, 2007 4:16 AM

7.

I haven’t deleted anything. Feel free to post your message again.

Posted by: Whiggles, July 19, 2007 7:26 AM

8.

Oups for me then!
I must have closed the window before it was actually sent.

Posted by: ARCVILE, July 20, 2007 2:29 AM

9.

Whereas I sometimes disagree with your opinions on some films, I have very saddened you did not enjoy "Paprika", as it was my second favorite film of 2006 (first was "The Host").
What baffles me is your assessment of the film as just stringing along dream imagery without a proper narrative. "Paprika", I believe, comments on two Japanese concerns : nature vs. technology and the awe of the female. What makes it truly interesting is that Kon actually advocates technology over nature and that the secret love story hidden inside the film makes it hard to believe that the female is alien to the male, turning on their heads I thought two classically held beliefs in Japanese pop-culture.
It made a lot of sense to me!
You would surely enjoy "Perfect Blue" as it is a love-letter to Argento and gialli in general but I would hesitate to recommend Kon's magnus opus "Paranoia Agent" as it mostly deals with the same themes as Paprika, but using different animation styles and most often your prefered style from "Tokyo Godfathers".

Posted by: fruitwobbler, July 21, 2007 12:55 AM

10.

That screenshot looks like a Patrick Nagel painting...

Posted by: Kamyar-MZ, July 21, 2007 3:18 PM

Comments on this entry and all entries up to and including June 30th 2009 have been closed. The discussion continues on the new Land of Whimsy blog:

https://www.landofwhimsy.com

 

 
 
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