275 Great Directors: Satoshi Kon

“With feelings of gratitude for all that is good in this world, I put down my pen. – Well, I’ll be leaving now.”

Why This Director?
: Paranoia Agent is one of the great miniseries.

My Last Experience Was…: N/A in terms of films.

What Did I Watch: All four: Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, and Paprika.

Where Does He Fit: Some of Perfect Blue is definitely stilted, a little too inexpressive and flat, a script that is hilariously dated when talking about the Internet as that thing that was popular recently with all the hip new children. Much more effective is the fact that we’re essentially in full Lynch territory but it never fails to surprise us when reality breaks down for Mina just by the use of some terrifyingly well placed match cuts. The color of illusion may be perfect blue, but it’s not one that shows up as often as you would think, we’re in a fully urban world where bright colors, including red blood, hit us like a cannonball.


Millennium Actress does not take any of the horrors from Perfect Blue into a scenario that could be just as spooky, but instead, we get a tragedy, a romance that spans the generations where it is totally unclear where things fall as a metaphor, but our film knowledge should be just enough to keep us afloat in terms of what is occurring emotionally. Setsuko Hara’s life become a fiction, and Satoshi Kon’s obsessions are writ large and epic, a tragedy that encompasses the film industry of another country. Good for him on pulling it off, somehow, and rewarding both casual and observant viewers.


In its own way, Tokyo Godfathers is just as much about actresses, fantasy, and reality as the other three films and even Paranoia Agent, but the real world milieu filled with small Christmas miracles works less well for me even with Hana being arguably the most complex character in the Kon filmography. The comedy feels a bit…off, with a lot of time spent just searching for the parents of the baby in between bouts of silliness. It works weirdly, it is essentially enjoyable if not thought provoking no matter how interesting Tokyo looks thanks to the snow and darkness in all realms.


Finally, we come to his masterpiece, Paprika, one of the craziest science fiction films ever made and one that Christopher Nolan plagiarized liberally from. Hard to begrudge him when he toned down the color and fun so much, rendering the lunacy of the circuses and sights that our protagonist sees into something clinical and gray. The perfect swan song even if the ending is also just a shade insufferable, just like the psychobabble everyone else spits out.


Most Valuable Asset: Full control of every frame.
Most Excited For: 😦

Coming Up Next: Lynne Ramsay, poet.


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