Michel Gondry’s Tôkyô! was awesome

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I was lucky to see Tôkyô!, Michel Gondry’s newest film, last week at SFIAAFF. It’s a triptych, a series of three vignettes that take place in my hometown, each part made by a reputed director–Gondry, French tortured-love expert Leos Carax, and Korea’s Joon-ho Bong. I posted the preview several months ago, and it’s finally coming out in theaters in the US this spring. A quick no-spoiler synopsis:

Gondry’s film, titled Interior Design, is about a couple who moves to Tokyo. The lead actress, Ayako Kamitani, is the hapa daughter of Steven Seagal. She’s pretty awesome in it, as is her co-star, Ryo Kase. They’re trying to find an apartment and a job and their car gets towed and it’s just a lovely, lovely story. Kooky, Gondry fun. I could watch it over and over.

Carax’ section is called Merde. Shit in French. It’s about a scary green guy that lives in the sewers and disrupts societal order. Slightly disturbing in a sick funny way. I didn’t think all the stereotypes were entirely accurate but the whole segment was so strange that it didn’t even matter.

I don’t remember what Bong’s was called, but it was about a hikikomori who falls for a pizza delivery girl. The actor who plays the shut-in is Teruyuki Kagawa, who also played the father in Tokyo Sonata.

It’s really interesting to watch a film about Japan that’s made entirely by non-Japanese directors. I thought it was much more insightful and colorful than Lost in Translation, and I highly recommend it.

4 thoughts on “Michel Gondry’s Tôkyô! was awesome

  1. I agree about “Lost in Translation”, which just felt like a travelogue by people going through culture shock. I know it was supposed to reflect their alienation, but I didn’t feel like there was any logical connection between Bill Murray supposedly feeling washed up as an actor and, for example, his being the tallest guy in a Japanese elevator. I just didn’t understand the point of about half the scenes in the movie.
    That’s actually one movie that’s made me automatically skeptical of foreigners doing films on the culture of any country – it’s more a reflection of their perception of a society than a reflection of the society itself. I suppose that can be interesting for some people, but I always find it more uncomfortable than interesting, because they always just get so much fundamentally wrong. And usually not superficial things either (they usually get the surface things mostly right). I’ve been afraid to check out “Tokyo” for that same reason. But I’m sure my wife will Netflix it at some point 🙂

  2. > but I didn’t feel like there was any logical connection between Bill Murray supposedly feeling washed up as an actor and, for example, his being the tallest guy in a Japanese elevator.
    there wasn’t. must there be a logical connection?
    > I just didn’t understand the point of about half the scenes in the movie.
    that’s okay. lost in translation had a much different intent.
    > movie that’s made me automatically skeptical of foreigners doing films on the culture of any country –
    ah, but see, this reveals you missed the point of lost in translation. it was not a film *about* the culture of another country. the country was a backdrop. it really could’ve taken place anywhere. remove the context and you start to get into what this movie was actualy about.
    > I suppose that can be interesting for some people, but I always find it more uncomfortable than interesting,
    > uncomfortable? interesting. 🙂
    > because they always just get so much fundamentally wrong.
    that’s the thing about perception: it’s neither wrong nor right. 🙂
    lost in translation is a very special movie, and should not be compared to this nor should this be compared to it. they are merely two different takes on something.

  3. I too was able to catch a screening of Tokyo! in Austin, Tx at the Alamo Drafthouse. It truly is an amazing film experience. I too enjoyed the Micel Gondry segment, but I thought the Merde segment was innovative and entertaining. Awesome movie overall.

  4. I also enjoyed the film. Merde was my favorite of the 3 segments. The ending was mind-boggling. I heard the DVD is coming out June 30th