A friend of mine was nice enough to invite me to a VIP screening at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood of “Tokyo!” (not to be confused for “Tokyo Sonata“) last week which was sponsored by (among other orgs) Sapporo beer. I mention this first because, even though I don’t drink, I was initially tempted into going because I heard that there was going to be free beer. This is out of character for me, but it turned out to be a good thing that I went because the movie, which should have been the motivating factor for me going, turned out to be great.
Tokyo! is really three short movies in one — a triptych — each set in Tokyo and directed by visionary directors from around the world: Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), LÃ©os Carax (The Lovers on the Bridge), and Bong Joon-ho (The Host). Ok, well, maybe not “around the world” so much as “two French directors and a South Korean,” but the results are some really interesting takes of different aspects of the dynamic city that is Tokyo.
I’m glad I didn’t know anything about the movie because I had no expectations for the film going into it. So I’ll give you my mini review without giving anything away.
The movie presents three different but compelling stories and visions set in Tokyo which border on the surreal and outright bizarre, but not so weird to leave you totally confused. Each piece was visually-appealing in its own way.
My favorite was the third piece (Shaking Tokyo) by Bong Joon-ho, followed closely by the first piece (Interior Design) by Michel Gondry. I was particularly intrigued and touched by the hikikomori main character in Shaking Tokyo. Ayako Fujitani, who plays a half of a young couple who is moving to and settling in Tokyo, is great in Interior Design.
The middle piece (Merde) by LÃ©os Carax is appropriately named (Merde is French for “shit”); it begins with a highly entertaining opening scene and goes downhill from there.
Despite a somewhat negative opinion of the middle piece, I still found it fairly compelling (I didn’t fall asleep and I was mad tired) and worth watching. If you’ve seen “Tokyo!,” I’d love to know what you thought of it.
Presented by Liberation Entertainment and Vitagraph Films, the film already opened in New York and Chicago (limited engagements), but it opens in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, Berkeley and San Jose on 3/20, and in other cities such as Washington, D.C. (3/27), San Diego and Philadelphia (4/10), Columbus, OH (4/24). (Updated Screening Schedule)
Incidentally, both “Tokyo!” and “Tokyo Sonata” will be screened at SFIAAFF this year, but I know that “Tokyo!” is already sold out.
Not to worry, Bay Area folks… 8Asians is doing a ticket giveaway!