Published Jun 04, 2009Tokyo! is comprised of three short films, which collectively are less a love letter to the megalopolis than criticism of an overcrowded epicentre where anonymity and forced social expectations breed hopelessness, alienation, rage and the desire for escape. As such, one's appreciation of the collection will have much to do with individual worldview and understanding of peculiarity. But anyone that has ever looked at the general population and thought, "My God, these people are loud, stupid and fallow" should find great amusement and id catharsis here.
In particular, Leos Carax's divisive short "Merde," about a subterranean creature that comes up from the sewers to blow people up, lick them, steal from them and throw the occasional lit cigarette into a baby stroller, possesses no political agenda outside of a genuine hatred of society and the status quo. It's irresponsible, irreverent and entirely fantastic from beginning to end. It should be noted that a handful of critics walked out of the screening when the creature claimed the reason he killed was because he found people disgusting, in particular, the Japanese, because their eyes look like vaginas.
On a lighter note, Gondry's short, "Interior Design," about a young couple (Ayako Fujitani, Ryo Kase) struggling to find decent work and a liveable apartment in cramped Tokyo, proves far more accessible. As an amusing criticism of being "useful," the subtext made literal here in the final act needs to be seen to be believed. Fans of Gondry will likely find great amusement in the film within a film, wherein a woman gives birth to a fully-grown rabbit.
Joon-Ho Bong's (The Host) short, "Shaking Tokyo," is quite effective as well, focusing on an agoraphobe (Teruyuki Kagawa) who retreats into a life of books and delivered pizza when the outdoors proves too oppressive. His lifestyle comes into question, however, when an earthquake acquaints him with a pizza delivery girl who has mysterious buttons all over her body. It's an interesting look at the desire for love within an equivocal culture.
Perhaps the question of community as building block for individual behaviour versus space as representation of diversity within isn't answered but distinctive idiosyncrasy and identity confusion within a densely populated, technologically advanced region keep things afloat.
It's an unorthodox and mostly cynical collection of films but should fill a void for anyone tired of predictability and socially conscious resolutions. (Kinosmith)