Tokyo! (2008)

Directed By: Michel Gondry (Interior Design), Leos Carax (Merde),  Joon-ho Bong (Shaking Tokyo)

112 Minutes

Tokyo! is a tag team of three directors each creating a 30-40 minute segment taking place in Tokyo! Leos Carax and Michel Gondry are both French directors. Joon-ho Bong is a director from Korea. Each segment is heavily different from tone, and have no intersecting qualities. The film feels like watching three episodes of The Twilight Zone set in Japan.

The first segment is ‘Interior Design’ directed by one of my favourite directors, the ever creative Michel Gondry. The segment is about two lovers who are searching for an apartment. One is an aspiring filmmaker and his films have that nice little Gondry charm to it. The ending of this segment takes a radical shift that I shan’t spoil for you. This segment is fun and weird, which is pretty much what I expect and enjoy from Michel Gondry. (4/5)

The second segment is ‘Merde’ from director Leos Carax. ¬†‘Merde’ has the strongest opening segment. A man in green pajamas, facial hair wilder than a minor character from Moulin Rouge, and a face only a mother could love emerges from the sewers. This man just randomly walks down a street and behaves ghoulishly. He steals cigarettes, pushes people down, grabs people’s money and starts to eat it. This part is oddly mesmerizing. The problem is this is 4 minutes of a 40 minute segment. The rest of the segment just stretches out because they capture the man and he goes to court, and nothing else after the first few minutes is any near as compelling. I liked the mystery of the character, and the rest gives him to much explanation and kills the intrigue. Still, the court and capture scenes would be forgivable if they weren’t so long. If this was a 10-15 minute segment, then I wouldn’t have minded so much, but it’s just so slowly paced. I feel that ‘Merde’ overall was the weakest of the three segments. (3/5)

The Finale is Joon-Ho Bong’s ‘Shaking Tokyo’. This is the strongest of three segments, and it feels worth waiting through ‘Merde’ to get to. It is about a man who lives in his apartment and is incapable of leaving. He’s been a shut in for many years and it observes the life of a man who can’t leave his house. He survives heavily on pizza deliveries, and eventually falls for a cute pizza delivery girl. Considering it’s called ‘Shaking Tokyo’ I don’t assume it’s spoiler to tell you that there is an earthquake. Dare I say? That it shakes things up a bit. (4.5)

Would I recommend Tokyo!? Yes and no. I feel like it’s worth watching if you have great interest in quirky stories, love for Japan, or are a fan of any of the directors. It’s a good collection, but I wish they would have been more like Paris, Je T’aime and have a larger number of directors with a handful of 5 minute films. In that film, they are hit and miss, but they go by quicker that the misses don’t strike as hard. With more short films, there is more ground to cover and you’ll have a higher chance of finding a one that really speaks to you.

I’d Also Recommend:

Paris, Je T’aime

Lost in Translation

The Science of Sleep