In Japanese and French with English Subtitles
Director: Bong Joon-Ho, Leos Carax, Michel
Cast: Kagawa Teruyuki, Aoi
You, Jean- Francois Balmer, Denis Lavant, Ayako Fujitani, Kase
Ryo, Ayumi Ito
RunTime: 1 hr 48 mins
Released By: Festive Films
Rating: M18 (Some Nudity)
Official Website: www.festivefilms.com/tokyo/
Opening Day: 16 October 2008
Three short films (Interior Design, Merde and Shaking Tokyo)
compose the movie. Each segment is freely inspired by Tokyo
and shot in the heart of the city.
"TOKYO!" is a symphony interpreted in three dissonant
parts, reflecting the image of the metropolis.
DESIGN by Michel GONDRY : the surreal fable of a young couple
who moves to Tokyo in search of a future. While the boy's
ambition is clear - be a movie maker- the girl drifts gradually
apart. Both of them will be drowned in the imensity until
the girl, feeling alone, discovers something strange …
by Leos CARAX: a mysterious man spreads confusion on the streets
of Tokyo through a succession of irrational and provocative
acts. " The Creature of the Sewers " as the media
have dubbed him, arouse passion or repulsion. He will be captured,
judged and then…
TOKYO by BONG Joon-Ho: He is a hikikomori - like many others
in Japan, he has withdrawn from all contact with the outside
world .When the pizza delivery girl faints during an earthquake,
the unthinkable happens - the man falls in love. Will he take
the unimaginable step: leaving the dead security of his apartment
for the streets of Tokyo ?
I was pretty bowled over by this series of really quaint,
surreal and quirky short films on Tokyo. Three directors,
with three very distinctive storytelling styles, present three
very compelling and interesting films all shot in Tokyo itself.
have decided to review them separately (since they do exist
in sort of their own individual worlds):
The weakest of the three, but nevertheless, still a winner
on its own. It starts out normal; a story about a young down-and-out
couple trying to make ends meet in Tokyo, but quickly takes
a strange turn. The main character here is the girl –
dull, and ambitionless – who struggles to meet the needs
that the couple requires while unconsciously neglecting her
being hit by a strong wave of reality (witnessing the fruits
of her other half’s labour, overhearing a conversation
about her), the girl transforms into a half-chair, half-woman
being who comes to the conclusion that she’s happy being
a tangible object that’s useful to her owner –
a man who picks her up after her first night as a chair.
quirky and offbeat movie drives a simple message about the
importance of non-conformation to societal needs –the
opposite’s a pressing issue especially in Japan where
the pressure to excel is crazy –: the need to co-exist
with others and yet, not lose your own identity and aspirations.
movie had a couple of funny moments especially during a screening
of the boyfriend/up and coming director’s advant garde
movie, which involved a lot of smoke, and when she interchanges
between chair and woman to hide her identity.
movie pokes fun at the obsessive and clinical nature of the
Japanese, in a country where there’s a strong love-hate
relationship with their prevalent otaku culture. Throughout
the short film, we see figurines and graphic symbols made
in the likeness of Merde: a red-haired and bearded “gaijin”
(Japanese for foreigner) who appears from deep within the
sewers and terrorizes the people – look out for some
brilliant scenes where he discards grenades like rubbish in
a sea of Japanese civilians, ironically, all carrying similarly
At the same time, Merde, which in French means shit, carefully
juggles sensitive topics without being in your face and entirely
insensitive. Also, in light of the recent killings at Akihabara
– although not entirely similar, it is extremely understandable
how, as a result of societal pressure, a god or monster can
So those who keep track of current affairs, you should know
about “hikikomoris”. For those who don’t,
it is a “Japanese term to refer to the phenomenon of
reclusive individuals who have chosen to withdraw from social
life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation and confinement
due to various personal and social factors in their lives”
(wikipedia). That virtually describes ¾ of the movie;
we follow the emptiness of a male hikikomori who is unsurprisingly,
detached from the world he lives in, as he meets a female,
who’s as empty as he is, in an unexpected manner.
shots are beautifully done, and they convey a certain muted
sense of fragility and hope throughout without being too overpowering.
Of course, nothing less is expected from Bong Joon-ho, who
directed the brilliant movie, “The Host”.
in all, an intelligent film with an interesting enough premise
that can be made into a full-length movie.
Highly recommended for those with a raging passion for anything
“Nihon (Japan)”, you have to watch this to get
three interesting perspectives of Tokyo. For someone so used
to watching films of and reading about Japan through the eyes
of a Japanese, these films directed by non-Japanese natives
inject a certain sort of glamour and flavour that lingers
even long after the credits have rolled.
(Suki desu yo! = I like it!)
Review by Casandra Wong