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TOKYO!
BLU-RAY disk
07.02.2009 By: J.A. Hamilton
TOKYO! order
Director:
Michel Gondry, Leos Carax, Bong Joon-ho

Actors:
Ayako Fujitani
Denis Lavant
Teruyuki Kagawa

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Three different directors each offer a distinctly unique vision of Tokyo, Japan with three separate short films.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
TOKYO! Yeah...well before I get into MY take on this film (which is a nice way of saying I’m gonna tare this thing a new hole), let me first explain a couple things that may help convince you I gave this flick a fair shake.

My father in law is Vietnamese, and like me is a HUGE movie buff. He’s been itching to see my Blu ray surround sound setup, so in light of this film being a three part Asian extravaganza I figured what better time to invite him to watch a movie. Bong Joon-ho’s THE HOST wasn’t bad after all, so maybe we’d both be in for a treat. We watched in silence, drinking booze and fighting the urge to look over and catch a glimpse of what the other’s impression may be. TOKYO! was no treat.

The three parts; INTERIOR DESIGN, MERDE and SHAKING TOKYO scratched the surface of interesting, but nothing more. Firstly, I can’t stand subtitles (as some of you may know from my other reviews), but again, not because I’m a dick, rather because it’s both hard to read and watch the film at the same time and ESPECIALLY because we lose so much in the translation. Bearing THAT in mind, everything about these stories made no damn sense. The plots were all over the place, the characters may as well been from Jupiter as the way they reacted to everything was completely alien, and the endings were laughably outlandish.

Now for what it was, the acting wasn’t too bad (though emotions are sometimes hard to gauge through subtitles). The score was nerve wracking, and so out of place I just shook my head at times. Now as far as the stories go, I’ve seen my fair share of “out there” FROM DUSK TILL DAWN twists, but having a chick turn into a chair, a crazy bum from the sewers with his own dialect consisting of slaps to the face, kicks and teeth tapping, and a recluse obsessing over a chick with tattooed buttons on her body that actually make her do stuff when pushed, were three punch lines I just didn’t get.

The movie looked gorgeous in 1080p, I’ll give it that, and I was pretty fond of the white robot delivering pizza (don’t ask), but I just couldn’t bring myself to enjoy what this flick had to offer. When the credits rolled my father in law turned to me and asked if I liked the movie. I laughed, shook my head, and said I though it was f*cking ridiculous. I then asked him if there was some kind of cultural meaning behind it all, as maybe in my ignorance I just couldn’t understand the genius minds at work here. He put a hand on my shoulder and laughed. “That movie was a piece of shit,” he said. Great minds think alike.
THE EXTRAS
Making of Interior Design: Director Michel Gondry explains how he became involved with the project and gets a lot of positive criticism from the cast. I found it funny that every one of the cast members refer to Gondry as a big child at some point.

Making of Merde: Director Leos Carax talks us through the street scenes and the many interactions with the pedestrians. The “monster from the sewer” looks like an adult size keebler elf on five kinds of crack.

Making of Shaking Tokyo: Director Bong Joon-ho and cast go through various screen shots and angles for various takes. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be this one. Probably because of the white robot who delivers pizza.

Director Interviews: The directors mostly discuss the issues with translation and getting their original points across. As I suspected, a lot of Japanese words don’t directly translate and as a result, there were dozens of ways to try and interpret the meanings. Sounds tedious.

Photo Gallery: A super quick (one and a half minute) slide show of set stills. Yep, there’s even one of the naked dude. Bonus!

Trailers: There’s three trailers before the film and one of the feature itself (which is almost as confusing as the movie).
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
If you speak fluent Japanese you may enjoy TOKYO! Of course, though he may not speak it fluently, my father in law DOES understand it and STILL thought the movie was crap. I get the whole “artsy/clever” attempts here, but when you try too hard the story can easily lose all its meaning.

Extra Tidbit: I think I might set a video camera on my desk from now on, cause if my favorite chair turns into a naked chick when I’m not around I wanna get a peek dammit!
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