Tokyo! - Movie Review
Sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. Surprisingly, with Tokyo!'s "triptych" collection of three different films by directors Michel Gondry, Leos Carax and Bong Joon-ho (respectively), there isn't a whole lot of bad to be found here. Each one of these films are very watchable, distinctive, and enjoyable. Their matter of effectiveness however is debatable, as each one has their pros and cons. Really, it's a matter of taste.
Let's first tackle Michel Gondry's film "Interior Design," arguably the most recognizable director on the ballot. The story of a young Japanese couple moving to the capital and working hard to make it big, or even just to work, is immediately relatable. The characters have very realistic qualities, they're likable, friendly, and like most, they're just trying to find their place, even if that happens to be as a prop.
Next up is "Merde" by Leos Carax. This one was my favorite, but possibly only because of its first ten minutes. See it and you'll know why. The film's title is in regards to the central character; a "monster" from Tokyo's sewers who resembles more of a deranged leprechaun. It's very funny, and then becomes perhaps a tad too dark as it takes a legal tangent that's interesting, but probably not as fun as what could have been. In any case, the film is worth viewing simply for the performances, especially that of Denis Lavant in the title role.
Finally, there's "Shaking Tokyo" by Bong Joon-ho, the director of the acclaimed The Host. This one introduces a modern hermit who finds a reason to enter the outside world after a brief run-in with a comatose pizza delivery woman. It's beautifully filmed, but thematically the weakest of the bunch.
Like every film to be found in Tokyo!, there are statements being made here left and right, ones that balance themselves on the brink of keen observation. "Interior Design" encounters the status of women within the Japanese culture, but also the status of each participant within a relationship, especially a creative one. The following short "Merde" (with a title which immediately draws attention to those who are acquainted with its French definition), has messages regarding the clashing of differing cultures, moral relativism, and perhaps even thoughts regarding the death penalty abounding left and right. Finally, there's "Shaking Tokyo" which encounters the Japanese cultural sense of separation. Some of these statements are enlightening or revealing, others are lofty or presupposed to the point of redundancy.
Think of it like a Chili's appetizer sampler platter. Gondry's "Interior Design" is the fried mozzarella that everyone likes, "Merde" is the hot wings which you might especially love if you're up for it, and "Shaking Tokyo" is the decent yet still satisfying bunch of celery sticks in the corner. Take your pick, they're here for you. Enjoy.