Following Caleb’s recommendation, I watched Tokyo!, a 2008 film with three medium-lengthed shorts written by three non-Japanese directors – Michel Gondry (Director of The Science of Sleep, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Leos Carax (The Lovers on the Bridge), Bong Joon-ho (The Host).
The movie trailer showed strong signs of promise and I am glad to report that the films (finally, for once) are in fact better than expected. Without going too deep into the stories and thereby spoiling the plots, I will just say, Michel Gondry’s Interior Design was natural and almost real, with fast, coherent shots and precise editing throughout (some nice long takes in some scenes, too). The kafkaesque turning point was almost better than Metamorphosis itself, in that, it had some discernible meaning – quite an intuitive interpretation on Japanese woman’s current social status and condition in Japan.
Carax’s Merde took surrealism to a more abstract, Dali-like high plain, by throwing a hint of biblical reference on top of (slightly) disturbing imagery with Japan’s buried history, then blasted it through the benumbing mass media, and tried carelessly by both indifferent and zealous mobs. A lot of information there, so you know he worked really hard to cram things into that one.
Bong’s Shaking Tokyo shook us in its poetic rendering of the inner Tokyo (and cities all over the world) that we have yet to fully uncover, but have always known of its existence (if you don’t know what the hell I am talking about, the answer is hidden under the pizza girl’s left sleeve). A romantic connection that goes beyond love, and is kafkaesque in the modern sense. The portrayal of the OCD character reminded me of Right Place, directed by Kosai Sekine (this time a real Japanese), winner of Best Short Film at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Check out the film below.
New Yorkers can catch Tokyo! right now at Landmark Sunshine Theater in LES. And if you like artsy films that actually don’t put you to sleep, you really ought to watch it.