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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Tokyo!

One full-length feature film, that is. Directors Michel Gondry, Leos Carax, and Joon-ho Bong each directed a segment for this film. There’s no real underlying theme other than that the segments each take place in Tokyo (truly, the film could have been shot anywhere – though, my guess is they decided like I did long ago that Japanese is the most beautiful language on the planet). This is a very imaginative and fun movie.

Michel Gondry, of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind, and countless amazing music videos fame, directed the first segment, entitled “Interior Design.” To sum up this segment: I think Gondry is going to go down in film history as one of the most imaginative directors of his generation. The writing is clever, fluid, and endearing. But what’s really tops in this film is his use of special effects – one that you really need to see. Few films effectively use CGI these days, but Gondry uses it perfectly.

The second segment, “Merde,” is directed by Leos Carax. I’ve never heard of him before, but his filmmaking sensibilities fits in perfectly with Gondry’s imagination. The first scene, where we encounter a sewer-dwelling Frenchman who pops up to the streets of Tokyo to terrorize the citizens – predominantly by eating their money and flowers – is such a fun, well shot opening that it’s entirely forgivable that the final 10 minutes of the segment drags on for too long. The film is spoken mostly in a made-up crazy language, which is really funny to listen to, but the pacing is elongated by an extensive translation process from the made-up language to French to Japanese and back and forth. Still, it’s an interesting segment that’s worth a watch if for only to stretch your brain.

Joon-ho Bong’s entry, “Shaking Tokyo,” is a heartfelt picture, one whose bearing comes straight from his previous picture The Host. The action is mostly internalized in the head of a Japanese recluse, who resides in his tiny apartment filled with stacks of books and pizza boxes. The setting never becomes stale thanks to the fantastic cinematography. But the real power of the piece comes from when, after 10 years enclosed in his apartment, the recluse encounters a pizza delivery woman who faints on his floor, only for him to discover that she’s more or less a computer. Is this segment a commentary on the loneliness of the digitalized age? Perhaps. But it’s one of the most affectionate pieces of cinema in recent memory.

Had “Shaking Tokyo” been the only segment to run on this picture, the $10 would have been completely worth it. But Gondry’s piece and, to a lesser extent, Carax’s piece add such a great value to this completely unique compilation that in my retrospective mind, the money feels like a steal. Carax’s segment feels a little out of place – the mood is less of a personal adventure than either other – but it’s fun. However, I expect to see many more great films from Joon-ho Bong in the years to come.

This would be a very great date-flick for you imaginative types. Go see it. I dare you. And go see The Host, a very impressive monster movie, in case you haven’t yet.