Logo © One Movie, Five Views - Header design by Erin V.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Tokyo! Review

Tokyo! - A KINOSMITH Release


Release Date: June 5th, 2009 (at the Royal)

Rated 14A for nudity and disturbing content

Running time: 107 minutes

Michel Gondry (dir., segment "Interior Design")

Leos Carax (dir., segment "Merde")

Joon-ho Bong (dir., segment "Shaking Tokyo")

Étienne Charry (music, segment: "Interior Design")

Byung-woo Lee (music)

Ayako Fujitani as Hiroko (segment "Interior Design")

Ayumi Ito as Akemi (segment "Interior Design")

Denis Lavant as Merde' (segment "Merde")

Jean-François Balmer as Maître Voland (segment "Merde")

Yû Aoi as Pizza-Delivery Girl (segment "Shaking Tokyo")

Teruyuki Kagawa as Man (segment "Shaking Tokyo")

Our reviews below:


Tokyo! Review By John C.


Tokyo! is comprised of three parts. Each one different, none of them connected. I will be rating each one separately. As a whole, the film is enjoyable and worth seeing.

Interior Design (directed by Michel Gondry)


This Michel Gondry directed segment is weird, but it works. It’s very funny and makes you think. It follows the story of a young couple who are crashing at a friends house. The man is a filmmaker, (we get a glimpse at his truly terrible and hilarious film), and the women is not exactly sure what she wants. Near the end it takes a twisted turn, we’re not quite sure what's happening, but in the end it’s explained visually in the best way they can. It’s interesting, thought-provoking and funny.

Merde (directed by Leos Carax)


Definitely the weirdest of the three films, it follows the story of a mysterious creature from the sewers. The creature terrorizes Tokyo, eating flowers and cash. The film is bizarre and slightly disgusting. The creature (who looks more like a slightly deformed man, who is hairy and very dirty), is weird and crazy, although I do admit I laughed quite a bit when he starts speaking a strange made-up language. One scene where he walks fully naked and front on towards the camera, is sure to induce cringes from the audience. This film didn’t really fit with the other two fascinating social studies.

Shaking Tokyo (directed by Bong Joon-Ho)


Shaking Tokyo is an extremely fascinating study of a man who hasn’t left his house in 11 years. When a mysterious pizza delivery girl faints at his door during an earthquake, his world is shaken up, and he may just have to leave his house. This film truly reaches a level of brilliance, with it’s study of what in Japan is called a hikikomori, someone who doesn’t leave their house for an extended period of time.


Tokyo! Review By Erin V.

**3/4 (out of 4)

Tokyo! is in three parts, although unlike Toronto Stories, they are not all connected by a single character or anything like that. Instead, each of the three segments have a title card, and end credits, making the experience of watching it almost like that of a film festival where a few short films with some sort of link, (in this case Tokyo), will be shown together in a feature length time slot.

Interior Design (Directed By Michel Gondry)


Interior Design is a thought-provoking piece of cinema. It follows a young women who feels as though she is not useful. She and her boyfriend are crashing at her friend’s place, as her boyfriend pursues a not too hopeful film career. She feels as though she is practically invisible - disappearing in a sense. As the Western world expression would be, she feels like “a doormat”. A very strong three stars here.

Merde (Directed By Leos Carax)


Merde is an odd film about a creature from the sewers who wrecks havoc in the city, and creates fear in the hearts of those in Tokyo. Part way through the film, it turns from his marching on the city to a criminal case as he is arrested and brought to trial. While some parts of this film were funny, other parts of it were just too odd for my liking. I am giving this segment a very mild two stars.

Shaking Tokyo (Directed By Bong Joon-Ho)


Shaking Tokyo is probably the most interesting of the three stories, (although closely followed by Interior Design). It is the story of a man who has lived as a hikikomori, (like a hermit), for the last 10, or so years. He never has to leave his home as he can just order everything to his door. And anything, like cans or boxes that things come in, never leave his house, instead being meticulously organized in neat piles. Every Saturday, he orders pizza, and when a young pizza delivery girl faints at his doorstep during an Earthquake, it is the first time he has had any real interaction with someone after all this time. Once she leaves, he wants to see her again - but how? He is a hikikomori... This short has such an interesting concept behind it, and the resolution is amazing. This is a very, very strong three stars for me.

- Overall, I am only giving Tokyo! two and three quarter stars. Had the middle segment been something more along the lines of the first and the last, I think that I probably would have enjoyed the whole all that much more. At least it had a strong opening and strong ending. I just wish that all three of the segments would have been as thought-provoking as Interior Design and Shaking Tokyo.


Tokyo! Review By Nicole

**3/4 (out of 4)

Tokyo! is a series of three short films that celebrate the unique culture and people in this well known Japanese city. Since this is a collection of short stories, I will be reviewing each short film separately.

Interior Design (Directed By Michel Gondry)


Interior Design is a funny little comedy about a young adult couple who are trying to find a place to call their own. They are bunking out in a friend’s apartment, while the two try to earn money. The young man aspires to become a filmmaker, but his films are so bad, that no legitimate theatre will show them. As for the girl, she can’t find any employment. Everything seems to be going wrong. The girl does not feel useful, and goes through a bizarre transformation. After literally feeling sat upon, the girl develops a purpose in life. An unusual little fantasy that is worth checking out.

Merde (Directed By Leos Carax)


Merde is a homage to both old Japanese monster movies and French clowning and mime art. A strange troll-like man escapes from his sewer home, and wrecks havoc in Tokyo. When the clown/troll finally gets caught, nobody can understand him, as he communicates only in grunts and gestures. Except one defense lawyer from France (who sports the same long-red troll beard as the creature), understands and can speak troll. The troll, whose name is Mr. Merde (French for , well, you know), is sentenced to hang, but, being a troll, of course, he does not die. Merde is a cheesy troll/clown/monster film and is almost reminiscent of a Monty Python sketch. Merde is a really bad and bizarrely funny film, that doesn’t really fit with the other two short films, but is amusing on it’s own.

Shaking Tokyo (Directed By Bong Joon-Ho)


Shaking Tokyo is an interesting social commentary about how people are too isolated in our modern world. This story follows a shy, eccentric man, who, as an attempt to avoid social interaction, has lived as a hikikomori, or hermit, for the past 10 years. Every thing that enters his house is kept and stacked; nothing can be thrown away. And every Saturday the man orders pizza. But this time, a lovely, and eccentric woman delivers his pizza. An earthquake occurs, and the woman faints in the man’s doorway. Not knowing what to do, he pokes one of her button tattoos, and she wake up. Later, the man finds out that the eccentric woman has become a hikikomori. Now it is up to the man to leave his home, if he wants to ever see her again.

Out of all the stories, Shaking Tokyo was my favorite, (with Interior Design being a close second). I found it interesting and believable, how the hikikomori would find both human interaction and various sensory input overwhelming, but something that he has to learn to face, in order to have a life.

Tokyo! is an interesting collection of short films. However, the collection may be best watched as individual films on DVD. Over all, Tokyo! is definitely worth seeing, and eventually adding to your DVD collection.


Tokyo! Review By Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

Tokyo! is an interesting collection of three short films all set in Tokyo.

The first one ‘Interior Design’ focuses on a young couple trying to find an apartment, employment and purpose in life. The young man is an aspiring film director who ends up earning money wrapping gifts. His supportive girlfriend is an artist but is having trouble finding any direction in her life other than being supportive of her boyfriend. In this interesting social commentary the viewer sees the young woman literally lose herself to other peoples needs. This is visually portrayed in a really strange but oddly sensible way. I won’t spoil the surprise by saying what happens to her. Interior Design is well worth checking out. ***

The second film, ‘Merde’ was a little too strange for my liking. Basically, it’s the story of a troll-like man living in the sewers of Tokyo (that’s why he’s called ‘Merde’) who comes out to terrorize the Tokyo streets and eat flowers among other things. The monster gets caught but in true horror movie fashion dead isn’t always dead and you know he’ll be back. When this comes out on DVD, I’ll skip this one. However, monster movie fans may find this one oddly amusing. *1/2

The third film, ‘Shaking Tokyo’ is nicely done. This is the story of a hikikomori (a recluse) man who hasn’t left his home for ten years. His only contact with the outside world is through the deliveries he orders by phone. When an earthquake hits and a pretty female pizza delivery girl faints in his doorway his whole world is shaken in more ways than one. Ultimately he realizes that literally and figuratively if he stays inside he will die. ‘Shaking Tokyo’ makes a touching statement about self-imposed isolation. This was a nice film to watch. ***

Overall, Tokyo! is an interesting film experience. If you enjoy the format of other similar ‘city’ films and don’t mind listening to Japanese dialogue while reading English subtitles, then check this one out. Because Tokyo! is in limited theatre release, you may have to wait for the DVD. It’s worth the wait.


Tokyo! Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Like its counterparts from New York, Paris, and most recently Toronto, Tokyo! is a series of short films from different directors set in the title city. In this case, the first two films have French directors–Michel Gondry and Leos Carax, and the third is directed by Korean Bong Joon-Ho.

In the first story, Interior Design, Hiroko (Ayako Fujitani) and Akira (Ryo Kase) are a young couple from out of town crashing in the apartment of Hiroko’s school friend Akemi (Ayumi Ito) until they find their own place. Akira has brought an experimental film with him to be shown in a few weeks to potential backers . Meanwhile, he gets a part-time job wrapping store packages, while Hiroko looks in vain for a decent flat. As Akira’s filmmaking career takes off, Hiroko undergoes a strange metamorphosis consistent with her increasingly subservient role.

The appropriately named title character of Merde (Denis Lavant) is a repulsive creature with claws, a genie beard, and vacant look from his one good eye, who emerges from the sewers to run through the streets. Initially merely obnoxious, he wreaks havoc after discovering an underground cache of hand grenades from the imperial Nanking campaign. Dragged out of his lair, he is tried and sentenced to hang, despite the efforts of his only advocate, a French jurist (Jean-François Balmer) who strangely resembles him and can translate his language of grunts, shrieks and face slaps to and from French while another interpreter goes between French and Japanese. Extensive local news coverage incites fierce public reaction both for and against him, including demonstrations, icons, effigies and even Merde language classes.

In Shaking Tokyo, Teruyuki Kagawa plays a hikikimori (agoraphobic) who has not left his flat for ten years. Supported by cash from his father, he has all his needs delivered, including Saturday night pizza, for which all the boxes have been neatly stacked up. One Saturday, he breaks his rule of avoiding eye contact when a young woman (Yu Aoi) brings the pizza and faints into his doorway during a sudden earthquake. When she comes to, she is inspired by his lifestyle and he feels drawn to her. When he finds out later that she (and just about everyone else) has become a recluse, he has to emerge from his cocoon to find her.

Though much weirder than I would generally like, all three films are interesting and amusing in their own ways, and worth checking out.


Consensus: Tokyo! is an interesting set of three short films. While like always with these kinds of films, some segments are better than others, this is still worth checking out. **3/4 (Out of 4)

No comments: