PAPRIKA (Satoshi Kon, 2007)
You can always count on Satoshi Kon to deliver an animated/anime film that transcends itself from mere, hand-drawn, animated cartoons. His films are always psychologically complex and thought-provoking, with realistic characters, that calling them 'anime' becomes an understatement. They're a work of art. Many regard Hayao Miyazaki as the 'godfather of anime', but personally I prefer Satoshi Kon. Even though their specialty is very much the same (their imagination knows no boundaries), but Satoshi Kon is the very contrast of Miyazaki. Where Miyazaki "creates" new imaginative beings, Satoshi Kon *skews*, or manipulate those visions that has embedded themselves in pop culture, into his films. Like David Lynch is to Hollywood stereotypes. The 'arthouse' of anime; more 'adult-oriented'. In short, his films are the most 'humanistic' compared to other animes, closer to a live-action film. Millenium Actress, remains my favorite anime film ever, and a masterpiece.
Although I feel that Paprika is a bit of a 'minor' work, but it still is his most 'mind-bending' film. Kon's trademark of blurring the lines between reality and dream, that constantly shifts-in and out, are ever-more evident here in Paprika. Viewers will find it hard to follow the film's narrative earlier on, due to its lack of blatant exposition. But it is the 'trust' that is put to the viewers' own intelligence, that raises my respect towards Satoshi Kon. Even more due to those brainless Hollywood blockbusters that are pouring all over this summer. Paprika did not forget to present not only visual sensations, but also plenty of food-for-thought too. It is pulsating with extraordinary imaginations that comes from the "inner-child", at the same time delving deep into the characters'(and our) psyche. As we would continually ask ourselves what is real and what is not.
Paprika didn't actually meet my rather *high* expectation(a fault of the rather underwhelming finale), but indeed, the 'headtrip' is definitely worth the experience.
See Also: Millennium Actress, Perfect Blue, Tokyo Godfathers, Paranoia Agent Series