Friday, 9 February 2018

"Paprika" REVIEW

   With his latest film, in every sense of the word, made as Japanese animation – anime, called "Paprika", Satoshi Kon managed to impress viewers and experts with his talent as a narrator, with his bright visual style and ability to magnificently intertwine reality and illusions. "Paprika" is a psychedelic detective about entering dreams.
Figure 1. Dream World warps (2013)

   The script of "Paprika" is an adaptation of the science fiction novel of the same name by Yasutaki Tsutsui, the author of other quite famous works. Tsutsui’s novel is very action-packed, author showed well the psychological portraits of the characters, and his attention to the details is amazing.
   The main heroine, Atsuko Chiba, heads the research of the human psyche. She also has an alter-ego - a teenage girl Paprika, who sometimes has enter other people's dreams, not always legally, in order to secretly mentally heal important statesmen, secretly from the public. However, a catastrophe happens as the secret experimental device, DC-mini, disappears, which allows entering other people dreams without their consent. This incident is the beginning of a chain of strange events, in which almost everything and everyone around Chiba is involved.
   Considering the impressive volume of the novel and the number of plot lines in it, Satoshi Kon decided to recapture the atmosphere and spirit of the novel, not the volume. And although, inevitable changes and simplifications were introduced into this complex work, the structure of the anime turned out to be no less complicated, because of director’s talent, which enriched the universe of "Paprika" a lot. Martin Petto(2009) is correct when he states that "Kon's visual panache is a welcome replacement for Tsutsui's ponderous psychoanalysis. " He says that "In all respects the film is brighter, brasher, breezier[...]lunch. Everything in the book is slower, more clinical."
   If Tsutsui’s novel is a psychological thriller, then the anime version more resembles an endless surreal maze of unexpected visual images, symbols, moral dilemmas, various references, plot twists, films in the film, stories in the story and dreams in a dream. Roman J. Martel(2013) points out one of most popular scenes of "Paprika" : "The dream parade is one of those sequences that will probably stick in your mind whenever you think of the film, because it is so strange, colorful and unique that you can’t help but be impressed with it."
Figure 2. Parade (2010)

   Satoshi Kon is clearly interested in a part of human life, especially dreams, which, according to many experts, are the key to a better understanding of the problems and needs of man, as well as to treat most of the psychiatric problems. Caleb Crain(2011) wonders" Will people use the technology to reach a new understanding of themselves, extending the insights of psychoanalysis and philosophy? Such a development would require a great deal of attention to people as individuals. " However he claims, and one must fully agree,  that " It would probably be easier and more profitable to use the new technology for entertainment. "
   "Paprika" is very optimistic film, because of Paprika herself, who feels in dreams, like at home. She is a cheerful and playful girl who does not lose her self-control. It is very interesting to see that invisible connection between Paprika and Chiba . Subconsciously you can feel it, but verbally it is difficult to describe it.
Figure 3. Chiba and "her" Paprika (2013)

   Despite the beautiful visuals and quite interesting plot, you want to taste these Japanese spices only once. However, they will leave a good and hot aftertaste.

1. Martel, J. R. (2013) Paprika - 2006. At: (Accessed on 6 February 2018) 
3. Crain, C. (2011) An introduction to “Paprika”. At: (Accessed on 6 February 2018) 

1. Figure 1. Martel, J. R. (2013)[Film Still], accessed on 6 February 2018.
2. Figure 2. Lamar, C.(2010)[Film Still], accessed on 6 February 2018.
3. Figure 3. Martel, J. R.(2013)[Film Still], accessed on 6 February 2018.

Friday, 2 February 2018

"Mary and Max" REVIEW

An incredible story of Mary and Max was made by Australian director Adam Elliot in 2009.
Two lonely souls, the meeting of which is impossible in real life, find each other and become penpals. Mary Daisy Dinkle is an eight-year-old girl from Australia with the eyes of  "the colour of muddy puddles" and a birthmark of "the colour of poo". And  Max Jerry Horowitz who is a lonely 44-year-old Jewish atheist from New York , "smells like licorice and old books" and whose circle of friends consists of  TV set, personal psychoanalyst and a sick aquarium fish.
A gray world, in which Max and Mary live, is full of annoying sounds, unpleasant scents, and even the Statue of Liberty looks pretty beaten up by life. But this no longer saddens neither the girl nor the man: their lifelong dream of finding a friend has finally come true. Now they have one thing to do: Mary - learning how to love yourself, Max - overcoming the nervous attacks that appear every time he reads a new Mary’s letter.(see fig.1)
Figure 1. Max's nervous attack (2014)

The reason for the penpalling was Mary’s puzzling question: "Where babies come from in America". Mary says that in Australia children are found in beer mugs, then in America they should come from cola cans. Mr. Horowitz, whose was randomly selected from the phone book of New York, senses his soul mate on the opposite side of the planet and answers Mary’s question. In addition to a naive and honest view of the world of these two different people, it turned out that they have a passion for chocolate bars, some cartoon about creatures living in a teapot and utter social dysfunction.
"Mary and Max" mostly consists of various quotes from conversation of these two characters, which are well-read by voice-overs, skillfully and funny acted out by dolls(puppets) and arranged in chronological order:  first letters date back to the mid-70's, the last - the beginning of the 90's.
. Narrated by clever shots, this gray story of "Mary and Max" is very far from the Hollywood tearjerker. As Adam Elliot said himself :"It's not the sort of story you'd see from (Hollywood studios) DreamWorks or Pixar.F It deals with different or marginalized characters"(Bob Tourtellotte, 2009) This picture has black humor and, along with kindness, it sends a strong message to all of us that" "Friends are the family we choose for ourselves"."Mary and Max" is a tragicomedy. On the one hand, you cannot remain indifferent to different topics and events that unfold there. But on the other hand, all tragic moments are flavored with humor and a little touch of self-irony. One genre very neatly and quickly intertwines with another. Luke Buckmaster(2009) is correct when he states that "One moment we're watching the blogs of plasticine make poo jokes, and the next we're confronted by heartrending explorations of heavy things - mental illness, alcoholism, loneliness, sociology."
Figure 2. Mary and Max "meeting" (2015)

Despite all the gloom and emotional stress, this film leaves a ray of light in all of us. After all, despite all the obstacles, tragedies, diseases and phobias, this friendship lasted until the very end. Tears in a bottle(see fig.3), clumsy drawings, chocolates, cans of condensed milk, alternative versions of where the children come from and confessions of two people that will never meet - all these little things of which our life consists, are enough to cause a smile, not only on your face, but also in your heart. As Andrew Todd(2015) said: "Mary and Max is a classic of animated cinema, effortlessly eliciting the holy grail of audience reactions: laughter through tears."
Figure 3. Mary's tears for Max who does not cry (2014)

1. Tourtellotte, B. (2009) Sundance opens with hope for indie film. At: (Accessed on 31 January 2018) 
2. Buckmaster, L. (2009) Mary and Max film review: plasticine-powered profundities. At: (Accessed on 31 January 2018) 
3. Todd, A. (2015) Love Yourself First: Mental Illness In MARY AND MAX. At: (Accessed on 31 January 2018) 

1. Figure 1. Newbutt, N. (2014)[Film Still], accessed on 1 February 2018.
2. Figure 2. Alves, M.(2015)[Film Still], accessed on 1 February 2018.
3. Figure 3. Lavine, M.M.(2014)[Film Still], accessed on 1 February 2018.