Review by Cameron Maitland
Tokyo! is an interesting film because it exists as one of the loosest anthologies I've ever seen. Granted, Michel Gondry, Leos Carax, and Bong Joon-Ho all created short films set in the city, but each film couldn't be more different.
Gondry's "Interior Design" follows an artistic couple moving to Tokyo who is having trouble both in their relationship and in setting up roots. Carax's "Merde" follows a strange monster emerging from the sewer and creating destruction and havoc. The final film is a romance that focuses on the lives of shut-ins and the cultural acceptance of them in Japan. Each presents a different view of Tokyo - though it could be said that they are all somewhat critical of their subject.
If anything brings these films together it is their abject strangeness - both visually and in their storytelling. There isn't a single film in this collection without elements of fantasy or magic realism pervading the base story. This not only make each film unique, but it also tends to be a strong and consistent anchor to the metaphorical content of the films that is almost lost in the translation and re-translation. The first two films can also be applauded for eschewing the expected French orientalism for a subtle emotional story and, well, almost the complete opposite.
While it may feel like a strange disjointed trip, and I'd be surprised if anyone liked all three portions, Tokyo! should offer something for every viewer to love at the very least in its strange dreamy visuals and unique storytelling.
Michel Gondry, Leos Carax and Bong Joon-ho | France/South Korea | 2008 | 112min
Wed. Oct. 8 | 2:00pm | Empire Granville Theatre 2
Thur. Oct. 9 | 7:00pm | Empire Granville Theatre 7
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