Liberation Entertainment and Vitagraph Films Present Tokyo! Three of world cinema's great visionaries: Michel Gondry (Be Kind Rewind, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Léos Carax (The Lovers on the Bridge, Pola X), and Bong Joon-ho (The Host) each direct a segment of this surreal triptych film, set in the ultra-modern Japanese metropolis, Tokyo. An Official Selection at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, Un Certain Regard, it screens in cities across the U.S. starting in March 2009 with its New York City premiere at Landmark Sunshine Theatre on Friday, March 6th, in Los Angeles at the Nuart on Friday, March 20th (as well as in San Francisco, Berkeley and San Jose on the 20th), and in other cities such as Washington, D.C. (3/27), San Diego and Philadelphia (4/10), Columbus, OH (4/24), and more TBA. For more information please visit http://www.tokyothemovie.com.
"Gondry, Carax, and Joon-Ho have each contributed a poignant commentary about what life is like in Tokyo and beyond, and when pieced together the result is quietly observational, imaginative and often, very funny." -- Nylon Magazine
Rhapsody, psychogeography, urban valentine, freak show, mindwalk and many other things, Tokyo! is a fantasy in three movements that will make you see one of the world's greatest cities - if not any city - with a new point of view. In the tradition of such films as New York Stories, Night On Earth, Paris je t’aime, and its forthcoming sequel New York I Love You, Tokyo! addresses the timeless question of whether we shape cities, or if cities shape us - while in the process, revealing the rich humanity at the heart of modern urban life. The surreal world of Tokyo! utilizes some inspired visual effects and animation.
"Interior Design" (Dir. Michel Gondry) -
Tokyo! opens with the first of three featurettes, “Interior Design,” from beloved international sensation Michel Gondry, whose previous features, including, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), The Science of Sleep (2006), and Be Kind Rewind (2008), revealed a master of surrealist whimsy at the very top of his game.
Hiroko and Akira (Ayako Fujitani and Ryo Kase) are a young couple from the provinces who arrive in Tokyo with limited funds, short-term lodging and what appears to be a solid and mutually supportive relationship that will seemingly carry them through any challenge. Akira is an aspiring filmmaker whose debut feature will soon screen in the city — and hopefully land him an entrée to a more solid career; in the interim he lands work wrapping gifts at a local department store. After securing short-term housing in the cramped studio apartment of old school chum Akemi (Ayumi Ito) — a career girl with a demanding boyfriend who grows weary of Akemi’s houseguests — Hiroko hits the streets of Tokyo in search of a suitable apartment, finding a series of rat-infested hovels that neither she nor Akira can afford on their limited salaries. After Akira’s film screens, to dubious acclaim, one spectator informs Hiroko of the inherent struggles in relationships between creative types: often times, one half of a couple feels invisible, useless or unappreciated, something Hiroko relates to wholeheartedly in the wake of her numerous trials and tribulations in the unfamiliar city of Tokyo. She starts to question her role in the relationship, resulting in a Kafkaesque transformation of self-discovery that will delight fans of Gondry’s trademark surrealism. Adapted from Gabrielle Bell’s comic "Cecil and Jordan in New York."
"Merde" (Dir. Léos Carax) -
Tokyo! continues with the second featurette, “Merde,” from acclaimed French filmmaker Léos Carax, whose previous features include the Cannes Film Festival selection Pola X (1999), the international art-house sensation The Lovers on the Bridge (1991), starring "Merde" lead actor Denis Lavant and Juliette Binoche, and the classic French indies Mauvais Sang (Bad Blood; 1986) and Boy Meets Girl (1984).
Merde (a French term translating as “shit”) is the name given to an unkempt, gibberish-spewing subterranean creature of the Tokyo sewers, played by Denis Lavant, who rises from the underground lair where he dwells to attack unsuspecting locals in increasingly brazen and terrifying ways: he steals cash and cigarettes from passersby, frightens old women and salaciously licks schoolgirls, resulting in a televised media frenzy that creates mounting hysteria among the Tokyo populace.
After discovering an arsenal of hand grenades in his underground lair, Merde slips into full-on assault mode, hurling the munitions at random citizens and creating a Godzilla-like atmosphere of urban terror, which the media promptly laps up and reflects back to its equally voracious television audience.
Enter pompous French magistrate Maître Voland (Jean-François Balmer) — a dead ringer for the sewer creature’s gnarled and twisted demeanor — who arrives in Tokyo to represent Merde’s inevitable televised trial, claiming to be the sole person in the world able to speak his client’s unintelligible language. The media circus mounts as lawyer defends client in a surreal court of law hungry for a satisfying resolution. Merde is tried, convicted and sentenced to death — until justice takes an unexpected turn.
"Shaking Tokyo" (Dir. Bong Joon-ho) -
The Tokyo! triptych concludes with the romantic featurette “Shaking Tokyo” from Bong Joon-ho, whose Korean monster movie The Host was the hit of the 2006 Cannes Film Festival before becoming a international box office sensation.
Teruyuki Kagawa stars as a Tokyo shut-in, or hikikimori, who has not left his apartment in a decade. His only link to the outside world is through his telephone, which he uses to command every necessity from a series of random and anonymous delivery people, including the pizza that he lives on and the hundreds of discarded pizza cartons he meticulously stacks in and around his cramped apartment. But one day is different — his pizza arrives thanks to a lovely young woman who succeeds in catching the shut-in’s eye. Suddenly an earthquake strikes Tokyo, prompting the beautiful young delivery woman to faint in her client’s apartment. And then the unthinkable happens — the hikikimori falls hopelessly in love.
Time passes and the shut-in discovers through another pizza delivery person that the improbable object of his affections has become a hikikimori in her own right. Taking a bold leap into the unknown, our hero crosses the threshold of his apartment and takes to the streets in search of his paramour, at last discovering his kindred spirit — at the very moment another earthquake strikes.
In Japanese with English subtitles
Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Color 35 mm 1.85, Dolby SRD/DTS 2008
Landmark's Sunshine Cinema
143 East Houston Street, New York, NY 10002
(on the Lower East Side)
Landmark's Nuart Theatre
11272 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Los Angeles, CA 90025
Landmark's Lumiere Theatre
1572 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94109
Landmark's Shattuck Theatre
2230 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704
3/20/09: San Jose
Camera 12 Downtown
201 South Second Street, San Jose, CA 95113
3/27/09: Washington DC
Landmark's E Street Cinema
555 11th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004
(entrance on E Street between 10th and 11th Street)
4/10/09: San Diego
Landmark's Ken Cinema
4061 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116
Landmark's Ritz at the Bourse
400 Ranstead Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
(On Fourth Street between Market and Chestnut)
Landmark's Gateway Theater
1550 N. High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43201
Bookings for Tokyo! are still in progress. For an updated list of cities and dates please visit http://www.tokyothemovie.com/screenings.html