I planned this outing with my Movie Review Squad even before I left for my trip 2 weeks ago. This time I picked the title. I have a soft spot for the picture house genre, especially one with a promise of a story interlaced with multiple plots. And coincidentally, we watched yet another Japanese film. Cynthia and TK both enjoy the previous one and I was OK with it. As for “Tokyo!”, while I adore the three filmmakers’ vision and originality towards this three-set story, Cynthia didn’t like it finding some parts of the film offensive; TK fell asleep half of the time. OK, we missed the intended show schedule because we were terribly late (something to do with road block caused by a marathon event, German food, and just us being late most of the time – all led to a ticket refund) so naturally we were all quite sleepy. Good for TK, he felt refreshed after the show.
All three stories exhibit at least two common elements: a storyline set in Tokyo and an original idea that may be foreign to the majority of the audience. French director Michel Gondry opens the movie with the first set “Interior Design (インテリア・デザイン)” – a story of a Japanese couple’s struggle in pursuing their film making dream in Tokyo. There are lots of engaging dialogues between the characters, story development in different directions, and towards the end, this first segment of “Tokyo!” turns into a metaphor – a visionary one. I suspect “Interior Design (インテリア・デザイン)” is the most accessible of all because of a fair bit of drama and humor involved.
The second segment “Merde (メルド)” is directed by another French director Leos Carax. The French word merde simply means shit in English. A story of a mad man who emerges from the sewage system and terrorizes Tokyo. Perhaps the most intense of the three, I awe at the quality and the difficulty of acting involved. Personally, I think “Merde (メルド)” casts a fresh perspective on a well-known modern day terrorist figure. This segment is also the most unacceptable segment amongst the rest of the Movie Review Squad. Though it was at times painful to watch, I admire this segment the most.
“Shaking Tokyo (シェイキング東京)” is the last segment directed by the Korean director Bong Joon-ho, it delivers a story between a Hikikomori (people who cut off physical human interaction with the rest of the society) of 10 years and a pizza delivery girl. There is not much dialogues, more like monologues (for obvious reason), and the primary channel of communication to the audience is in the form of facial expression and body language. And hence, the pace is much slower than the other two.
I don’t think these non-Japanese directors have restrained their artistic expression at all. Some may find “Tokyo!” tilts towards the realm of self-indulgence. Yes, “Tokyo!” is a different kind of movie. There is a fine line between being original and intolerably bizarre. I am an odd ball; I am leaning towards liking this one.
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