Tuesday, July 17, 2007

July 17th Log

2007, Satoshi Kon, Japan
1st Viewing, DVD

It’s the Greatest Show time!” This is the dialogue that opens the film and indeed it sets the tone for what is a truly inventive and mind-bending trip to experience. The film is based off the futuristic science fiction novel from author Yasutaka Tsutsui and is directed by Japanese anime master filmmaker Satoshi Kon. Paprika further examines Kon’s deep fascination with blending dreams, reality, and cinema into a collective one. Here, in what is his fourth feature film, Kon takes his favorite themes to their most ambitious and mind-bending heights. Continuing on his collective social insanity themes reflected in his excellent min-series Paranoid Agent, Kon delves into thought-provoking issues of terrorism, lost innocence, and machine conformity- all within a global human society. The story centers around a psychiatric lab that uses an invented machine to analyze dreams and nightmares. When the machine is stolen, the head therapist’s alter-ego (Paprika, a young “movie star” hero of the dream world) and one of her clients find themselves trapped inside a nightmarish blend of dream, illusions, reality, and even cinema. The thief is taken over human dreams with a haunting world that becomes a mass parade of celebrating victims. Paprika is truly a hypnotizing film with a dazzling visual imagination and thought-provoking wonder. I do not think Paprika is Kon’s very best film (to me that would be Millennium Actress), but it is his most ambitious work and is definitely a mystifying trip to experience.

1999, Alexandre Ala, France

1st Viewing, DVD

French filmmaker Alexandre Aja generated all kinds of international buzz in 2003 with his much discussed NC-17 rated horror High Tension. The buzz resulted in his arrival to Hollywood with The Hills Have Eyes. I did not like The Hills Have Eyes and I have yet to see High Tension, so for me, Aja was not the direct motive to seek out Furia, which is his debut film. I think the interest for me was the desire to seek out more films starring Marion Cotillard, who’s career in both France and America has interested me for some time (and she is on the verge of breakout stardom with her career-defining performance in La Vie En Rose, which should gain her some Oscar buzz at years end). The setting is a futuristic world in which oppression has restricted individuality. The film centers itself around two rebellious artists (Marion Cotillard and Stanislas Merhar) that fall in love. Cotillard proves her capable presence even with a mysterious and distant character. The film shifts it’s mood at times, but Aja’s does a very good job of capturing the doomed atmospheric tone that remains over the entire film (concluding with a bleak, yet determiningly hopeful final moments). Maybe I should finally check out High Tension.


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