I did see Paprika last night, as planned, and I think Shaviro’s read is about right. The basic SF plot involves a machine that allows users to enter the dreams of others, but as the technology develops, the dreams collapse on each other in a giant, permeable collective dream. This SF plot overlaps with a classic detective plot, with the main character, psychologist Dr. Atrsuko Chiba, is attempting to discover who has stolen copies of the devices used to hack into people’s dreams. It’s a visually stunning film, one that uses animation beautifully to push this dream narrative. As Shaviro notes, the dream plot works well for Satoshi Kon’s visual style. Many of the backgrounds are almost photorealistic, but the foregrounds feature all manner of psychedelic imagery. And the movie’s (and dream’s) most commonly repeated motif–a loud, cacophonous parade of broken toys–is an interesting mishmash of Japanese popular culture. Oddly, I happened to watch Waking Life, another animated film about the permeable boundaries between dreaming and reality, the other night, and while Paprika is much more tied to the genre films that underscore its narrative, the use of animation to convey a dream state was somewhat similar (both films also, notably, use movies to evoke dreaming). I’d like to write a longer review, and if I get some more writing done on the book, I’ll try to do that.
While I’m blogging, I just wanted to give a quick mention of Alex Karpovsky’s latest film, General Impression of Size & Shape, which follows a group of bird-watchers who come to a small Arkansas town after someone spots an ivory-billed woodpecker, a species previously believed to be extinct. Karpovsky’s previous film, The Hole Story, was incredibly entertaining, so I’m very much looking forward to checking out his latest film.
Also, I’ve been planning to mention the launch of CommentPress, an open source comment tool based on “the WordPress blogging engine that allows readers to comment paragraph by paragraph in the margins of a text.” I had a chance to play with CommentPress at a MediaCommons meeting last spring, and it looks like a fantastic tool. There are a number of interesting examples available of how the technology could be used, including a heavily commented version of the Iraq Study Group Report and Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s Scholarly Publishing in the Age of the Internet.