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Director:Satoshi Kon
Cast:Megumi Hayshibara, Toru Emori, Katsunosuke, Toru Furuya
Release Date:2007
Genre:Action, Animation, Adventure

By Jeff Meyers | Posted 9/12/2007

Connecting the proverbial dots between dreams and movies, Japanese director Satoshi Kon offers up his psychedelic head trip Paprika as an animated tonic to the monochromatic complacency of everyday life. Boasting vérité-style animation, this hallucinatory examination of societal madness manages to present a surreal meditation on entertainment in the guise of a blockbuster sci-fi thriller. There’s murder, action, eye-popping visuals, and even a little sex. There are also creepy geisha dolls, bizarre echoes of Disney, and marching kitchen appliances. The basic plot follows Dr. Atsuko Chiba, a buttoned-up research scientist whose devil-may-care alter ego, Paprika, can enter and manipulate people’s dreams using a revolutionary new machine that interfaces the human mind with the internet. When one of the machines is stolen and used to destroy unsuspecting victims’ psyches, the doctor and her colleagues attempt to track down and capture the psychic terrorist. To do this, however, Paprika must enter the damaged dreams of friends, colleagues, and even a guilt-ridden police detective. What makes Paprika’s situation—and the plot— so confounding, however, is the villain’s ability to send people into a dream state even when they are awake. Without warning, the narrative comes unhinged, slipping into and out of the dream world, leaving you with the feeling that anything can happen at any time. And there’s an underlying point to Paprika: Kon’s enthralling contortions suggest that dreams, like movies, can both liberate and corrupt the human mind.

Jeff Meyers

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