Tokyo! (Gondry, Carax, Bong, 2008)

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While Pulse uses Tokyo as a disjointed spatial metaphor riddled with gaps and hidden rooms, this omnibus film sees Japan’s megalopolis as a fantastical and quirky environment harboring characters catapulted into the public forum by societal concerns and personal weaknesses. Michel Gondry once again attempts to create whimsey out of the extremely mundane, and once again fails miserably at harkening any emotional impact from his dry suffering artists. Having not been familiar with director Leos Carax, I wasn’t at all prepared for his entry entitled “Merde”, a baffling, antagonizing, and brutal allegory starring Denis Lavant as a pint sized monster living in the sewer who emerges only to fling grenades at innocent bystanders. It’s tantalizing despite being completely ridiculous. Bong Joon-ho, the brilliant director of Memories of Murder and The Host, ends with “Shaking Tokyo”, the story of a shut-in who’s structured his isolated interior life around the meticulous order of objects, a lifestyle that gets shaken to the core when an Earthquake opens his eyes to a beautiful pizza delivery girl. Like his feature films, Bong deconstructs genre with a razor-sharp attention to detail, in this instance the brief romantic moments between the characters share a physical connection with the crumbling city around them. In this uneven and strange Tokyo!, Bong’s entry stands out as the one vision able to grasp it’s complex surroundings.

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