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Released: 2008

Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Runtime: 1 hr 52 min

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Joon-ho Bong, Michel Gondry, Leos Carax

Starring: Yu Aoi, Yosi Yosi Arakawa, Jean-Francois Balmer, Julie Dreyfus, Ayako Fujitani, Ayumi Ito

Directors Michel Gondry, Leos Carax and Bong Joon-ho tell three separate stories in the Japanese metropolis.

Wildly uneven, ultimately rewarding.

Review by: MiamiMovieCritic

Added: 8 years ago

Tokyo! consists of three short films made by three non-Japanese directors. It’s difficult to say what unites the films thematically, except that they were all shot in the same metropolis, and the filmmakers seem to have agreed to include something crazy in each segment. This wildly uneven, ultimately rewarding movie can best be summed up this way: The crazier the better.

The first segment, “Interior Design,” was directed by Michel Gondry, the magician behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and some of the most visually dazzling music videos of the last decade. The opening scenes feel very French New Wave: just everyday moments of a young filmmaker and his girlfriend hanging out in their cramped apartment. Only when we see footage of the filmmaker’s new movie does “Interior Design” become delightfully Gondry-esque. The ending sequences are bizarrely poignant. (“Dat bitch done turned into a chair,” one of my move-watching buddies so aptly put it.) So poignant, in fact, that I wish Gondry would just drop the naturalistic approach altogether and go in the same direction Spike Jonze is headed with Where the Wild Things.

“Interior Design” is followed by “Merde,” directed by a filmmaker I wasn’t familiar with before this, Leos Carax. The opening is a showstopper: The camera tracks endlessly along a sidewalk as a strange man in a green suit terrorizes pedestrians. He then retreats to his home under the city. This is one of those stories that opens so strangely and spectacularly that, the more the filmmaker tries to explain it, the less interesting it becomes. Still, this is by far the most entertaining segment. The man’s name is Merde, which is French for shit. You won’t soon forget the sight of Merde hurling grenades at innocent bystanders. (Or the insane way he speaks, for that matter.) After Merde has been captured, he’s asked what he’d like for his last meal. His response is priceless: “Flowers… and cash.”

The last segment is the most disappointing, because it was made by a filmmaker whose last movie was a masterpiece. “Shaking Tokyo” was directed by Bong Joon-ho, the creator of one of the greatest monster movies of all time, The Host. Imagine the possibilities: Joon-ho working in Tokyo, the home of Godzilla! Unfortunately, nothing cool happens. The story, about a shut-in who falls for a pizza delivery girl, could have taken place just about anywhere. Don’t ask me to explain the robot. When the filmmakers signed onto the project, they must have been contractually obligated to film something random and weird.