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Tokyo is a city of transitions in three short films. A young woman who finds her life useless experiences a metamorphosis. A disheveled Caucasian emerges from a manhole to face arrest, trial, and execution; he calls himself "Merde" and speaks a language only his look-alike attorney understands. Is he human? A recluse experiences human contact when a pizza-delivery girl faints at his door during an earthquake. He conquers fear to seek her out. A chair, a corpse, a hermit: sources of urban connection? Written by
Three 40 min shorts by three directors: Gondry, Carax and Bong Joon-Ho. I went for the first and enjoyed all three very much.
Gondry's Interior Design is a slightly uneven but characteristically surprising, hilarious and deceptively light coming-of age yarn. Two naive Japanese artists find their relationship - and more besides - mutating under the pressure of moving to the city.
Leos Carax's Merde follows a possessed, green felt suit-clad Denis Lavant above and below ground. A surreal modern re-working of the Gojira (Godzilla) story, Lavant's 'Merde' terrorises the people of the city with his distracted, antisocial consumption of cash and flowers - and worse when he discovers a cache of pre-war explosives. With his slapstick language that only a preening French lawyer (Jean-Francois Balmer) can understand he cuts an equivocal figure in the film, at once entertaining and dangerously, opaquely misanthropic. It's the best performance of all three.
Finally, Shaking Tokyo sees Bong Joon-Ho create a Murakami-esqe lovestory. Teruyuki Kagawa is a recluse (or hikikomori) living in an OCD's paradise of take out food and literature. His regimen is terminally interrupted by the coincidence of a pretty delivery girl and an earthquake (yes, the latter may be said in magic realist terms to follow causally from the former, although I'm not sure this was intended). I was a little disappointed that this promising, ascetic but good-humoured film had such a facile ending but it's the most lovingly filmed of the three.
As a tribute, satire or simply guide to modern Tokyo, Tokyo! is very effective. I'm off to watch Lost In Translation again to really savour the aroma. 7.5/10
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