Based on a serialized novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui, this loopy anime from director Satoshi Kon (Millennium Actress) isnt a movie thats meant to be understood so much as simply experienced or maybe dreamed. Heres what I know for sure (and plotwise, it isnt much): Our psychotherapist superheroine Paprika, a.k.a. Dr. Atsuko Chiba, learns that her laboratorys dream machine, the DC-Mini, has gone missing. So she goes looking for the errant device, digitally jacking into her colleagues dreams and discovering clues that include menacing geisha dolls and the recurring nightmare of a guilt-ridden police detective who happens to hate movies. Like the best work of Kons compatriots Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell) and Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away), Paprika is a film in which, minute to minute, basically anything can happen; the narrative is almost completely unbound. But Kon wouldnt be his genres supreme self-reflexivist if he didnt insist on revealing frames within the frame which here include not just characters dreams, but movie and laptop screens, plus a Planet Hollywoodesque elevator that stops on floors devoted to Tarzan and James Bond. At once cinephobic and cinephilic, Kons heady cure for blockbuster blues couldnt have come along at a better time. (Sunset 5; Playhouse 7)
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