Except it’s not even really day one of the Edinburgh part of the festival which started several days before with a packed screening of the English dub of Your Name and followed by the two Resident Evil CG films and an education day. Day one for me then.
Starting with the first film in the Eureka Seven: Hi Evolution reboot series, from the off it was clear this was not a well regarded film. I had expected the cinema to be packed yet a third of the seats remained empty, and during Jonathan Clements opening remarks, the film was described as being “unfortunately” in competition for a judges’ award.
The story goes that after Satoshi Kon's movie triumvirate - Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, and Tokyo Godfathers - there were a surplus of ideas and the desire to break from being locked into a two and half year development cycle for movies. So with the aid of Madhouse studios, Paranoia Agent was born. Demonstrating a familiar mix of reality bending, mind melting storytelling and a flair for the symbolic and layered, the series is a stunning achievement shifting from detective thriller to black comedy to erudite social commentary with jaw dropping ease. Challenging and subversive, this is everything a Satoshi Kon fan could want: a playground where he runs free; as bleakly funny just as it is darkly incisive there are some minor hiccups along the way but it is a powerhouse of a series that rightly deserves but never demands attention.
at its best when entirely irreverent and poking fun at everything from suicide to animation production, house wives to prostitution
When the designer of the horrendously popular Maromi character is attacked in a parking lot, the two police detectives assigned to her case are rightly sceptical. Several points don't add up, the least of which being the identity of the supposed attacker: a youth wielding a crooked baseball and gold in-line skates; but when a second then third attack come in quick succession, the phenomenon of Lil' Slugger begins to spread. All of the victims seem to have been at their wit's end in one way or another: a teaching assistant with dissociative identity disorder, a high achieving school pupil, a less-than-honest police officer - but when a culprit is found, the case begins to veer off on bizarre paths. Nothing is as it seems with Lil' Slugger and as his notoriety increases so does the ferocity of his attacks. The question is: can anything stop him?
It's not a stretch to say that Paprika is the movie that Satoshi Kon has been building up to. Simply attaching his name to a film indicates its content: a trip into the human psyche where perspectives blend and questions about the nature of "self" are posed. This is no different and follows a similar formula to his other films where alternate realities begin to intrude on actual reality, eventually blurring the already indistinct line between the two. Intellectualism and introspection aside, while not a different blueprint to previous movies such as Perfect Blue or Millennium Actress, Paprika is far better paced and perhaps a lot more subtle than previous works, helped no doubt by the blindingly excellent animation from auteur favourite, Madhouse studios.
opening with a rampant and glittering circus performance, and ending with a chaotic and destructive parade
The questions Paprika asks are not new to anyone who has had a cursory glance at the philosophy and literature surrounding recent Hollywood fare, most notably The Matrix and Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind among others; how it asks them is unique though. The film focuses on a device which allows a psychotherapy professional to both view and interact with a person's dreams, potentially identifying the root cause of their psychological problem and "fixing" it; this sets up a tight cast of characters ranging from an obese genius to a duplicitous therapist to a troubled police officer, all of whom take part in a technicolour journey that eventually culminates in a potentially world-altering event. The aforementioned therapist has the titular alter ego whose flippancy is only matched by her choice of attire and it is through her eyes and dives into dreamscapes that the story unfolds.