Sunday, June 14, 2009


A fascinating triptych with three stories set in Tokyo with the vision of three foreign directors, French Michel Gondry, French Leos Carax and Korean Bong Joon-ho. The best for me was Gondry’s Interior Design, the second best Bong’s Shaking Tokyo and the last was really hard to watch Merde by Carax.

Interior Design tells about a girl that needs to feel useful and the in the most unexpected and fantastic way she finally finds how to be and feel useful. But to me the short is also about how big cities make you feel like objects and how you tend to “accept” it as the price to live there. The short has excellent and amazing visual effects and good performances.

Shanking Tokyo is about a hikikomori (or shut-in) man that hasn’t left his house for the last 10 years and lives in perfect order and harmony. To eat he orders delivery and never looks at the eyes of the delivery person. But one day he does only to find a beautiful young woman and in that moment there is an earthquake! Many things happen until he decides to go out to the street and look for the girl with great and unexpected consequences. To me this short is about how big cities can easily drive people to live only inside their homes, the only place left where you can be yourself, have order and perfect harmony; but what seems unique (shut-in yourself) sooner than later becomes the norm. Then there is nothing left but destruction. You really have to see this short to understand what I mean. The short has excellent performance by Teruyuki Kagawa.

Merde is hard to watch, very hard. Tells about the monster/creature of the sewers that appears to scare people, until becomes violent, very violent killing hundreds of Tokyo dwellers. He is not Japanese he is a westerner. Police finally gets him, locks him but no one speaks his language. A Frenchman claims he does and finds that his name is Mr. Merde. Besides being a parody to the multiple Godzilla stories, to me the film deals with big city dwellers xenophobia and terrorist fear. Good performance by Denis Lavant that makes the creature believable and highly disgusting, revolting and very unpleasant to watch.

So this triptych is not a love letter to Tokyo, is more a critical exposition about people that live in big cities and in my opinion the stories are not particularly related only to Tokyo as I can see them happening in any other big, crowded, and inhumane big city of the world.

This is quite an interesting cinematic experience that is presented in the right order, like a meal. First you have a very light and wow! entrée; second the main dish that is too rich and hard to digest, but dessert follows and is fluffy, light and sweet. Everything is just perfect to leave you at the end feeling good and acknowledging the great experience.

Cinematography is excellent with three quite different styles integrated flawlessly into one flowing cinematic experience. The film premiered at 2008 Cannes in the Un Certain Regard section and did the festival circuit to audiences delight.

This was a great cinematic experience for me and I highly recommend it to everyone that has lived or lives in a big city. But definitively is not for all audiences as the shorts tend to be of the art cinema style. Still, I highly suggest to many that read the blog to give it a try and remember to be prepared for Merde as is hard to watch, but some viewers comments claim that is the funniest of all, so go figure.


Watch trailer @ Movie On Companion

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