Japanese anime director Satoshi Kon (Tokyo Godfathers, Millennium Actress) always struck me as overrated, and this new film is no exception. Lacking the preternatural grace of Hayao Miyazaki and the mind-bending concepts of Mamoru Oshii, Kon’s excursion into sci-fi is shockingly literal-minded. It’s about a prototype device, something called the “DC Mini,” that allows people to enter one another’s dreams. Much time is spent on making sure everybody in the audience catches the parallels between shared dreams and the movies.

Of course, the device is stolen and hacked, and suddenly no one is safe from a parade of stock surreal sights including circus clowns, endless hallways and creepy dolls that are supposed to create phantasmagoria but come across as faint echoes of better movies, such as sci-fi anime’s masterpieces Akira and Ghost in the Shell. (For a truly freaky, eye-popping parade, look no further than Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.) Paprika amounts to unappetizing characters in remarkably flat animation talking epistemological gobble-di-gook. Every now and then, the title heroine appears as some sort of cloud-surfing dream warrior or grows a mermaid’s tail. From what I could tell, Paprika scored the NYFF record for walk-outs by insanely inflexible critics.

Paprika. Satoshi Kon, 2006. *
[tags]film, 1 star, anime, scifi, satoshi kon, nyff[/tags]