SciFi Japan

    New Anthology Film TOKYO! Begins US Theatrical Run

    Source: Alex Hernandez, New York-Tokyo Official Movie Site:

    In TOKYO!, three visionary directors (Michel Gondry, Leos Carax and Bong Joon-ho) come together for an omnibus triptych examining the nature of one unforgettable city as it’s shaped by the disparate people who live, work (and run amok) inside an enormous, constantly evolving, densely populated Japanese megalopolis — the enchanting and inimitable Tokyo. 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. An Official Selection Cannes Film Festival Un Certain Regard. TOKYO! opens on March 6 in New York at the Sunshine Theater, located at 143 East Houston Street. During the opening weekend Michel Gondry and Leos Carax will follow selected shows with question and answer sessions. The film opens nationally following the New York showings.


    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: oftentimes, 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.

    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. 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 mystery girl, at last discovering his kindred spirit at the very moment another earthquake strikes.


    The Greek word “rhapsody” designates “a work composed of several pieces presented one after the other.” Our project is a fantasy in three movements, three directors interpreting a single motif: TOKYO! It doesn’t matter whether each piece seems at odds with the others — when they are put together, they form a unique work. A “TOKYO! rhapsody,” to be precise. All cities evolve. But whereas Paris or New York have managed to maintain a balance between tradition and evolution, TOKYO! is destined to develop endlessly. Economic growth has seen the city change at an exponential rate. This enormous metropolis is a film set in itself. Neither quiet nor calm, the city overflows with dizzying energy. Seen from abroad, Tokyo has grown from an exotic city to “TOKYO!,” an endlessly complex and fantasized-about assemblage emanating from an imminent future… Our desire to produce a composite film rather than a single, full-length story was absolutely dictated by the nature of the city and its inhabitants; by the urban landscape that appears and disappears suddenly, in completely unexpected fashion; by the extraordinary behavior of people no longer really astonished by anything. There is something of the absurd in TOKYO! These three directors, each endowed with a rich and fertile sensibility, each so different from the others, capture the true spirit of TOKYO!


    Michel Gondry (INTERIOR DESIGN): "The beginning of the film presents a young couple confronted by the difficulty of moving to an unknown city. The aim of the film however is not to show Tokyo as an inhuman megalopolis, but to reveal the personality of a young woman who doesn’t see the point of disappearing into the professional adult world. This first part is full of life and humor, especially in the intimate moments between the couple. We follow the young girl on her interior journey as, little by little, she cuts herself off from others and turns away from the role she has played until now. The surreal twist the film takes, as slowly begins to transform into a chair, reflects her mental state, horribly yet cinematically, in the fashion of Roman Polanski’s REPULSION or THE TENANT."

    Michel Gondry is the Versailles-born director of music videos, commercials and feature films whose 2004 feature film breakthrough ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND earned the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Gondry and his co-writers Pierre Bismuth and Charlie Kaufman, his collaborator on the 2001 comedy HUMAN NATURE. Gondry’s music video breakthrough arrived in 1993 after Björk saw his clips for French pop act Oui Oui and asked him to direct the clip for her solo debut single “Human Behaviour,” an international hit. He went on to direct a total of seven clips for Björk, including her 2007 single “Declare Independence.” In addition to directing award-winning videos for acts like Daft Punk, The White Stripes, The Chemical Brothers, Radiohead and Beck, Gondry has directed dozens of commercials, including the popular Levi’s 501 spot “Drugstore,” cited by the Guinness Book of World Records as winning the most prizes of any commercial to date. His recent feature films include DAVE CHAPPELLE’S BLOCK PARTY (2006), a live concert filmed in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP (2007), a surrealist romantic comedy starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg and BE KIND REWIND (2008), starring Jack Black and Mos Def. Leos Carax (MERDE): "Merde is a creature, a sort of Godzilla who attacks the inhabitants of great cities, but a racist, fundamentalist Godzilla. Or rather, Merde is a Mister Hyde cast into contemporary Tokyo. But then where is his double, his creator? Where is Doctor Jekyll hiding? In you, and in me." Leos Carax is a French writer-director and former film critic whose poetic and visually stunning early features BOY MEETS GIRL (1984) and MAUVAIS SANG (1986) helped catapult actor Denis Lavant and cinematographer Jean-Yves Escoffier to international stardom, while establishing Carax’s name as one of key directors in the stylish early ‘80’s cinéma du look movement, popularized by Jean-Jacques Beineix and DIVA in 1982. BOY MEETS GIRL won the Prix de Jeunesse at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival while MAUVAIS SANG won the prestigious Prix Louis Delluc after being selected in the Official Competition at the 1986 Berlin International Film Festival. Carax’s international art-house breakthrough came in 1991 with the release of LES AMANTS DU PONT-NEUF (THE LOVERS ON THE BRIDGE), reuniting his MAUVAIS SANG stars Denis Lavant and Juliette Binoche as homeless lovers living on the Pont-Neuf bridge in Paris; it won three prizes at the European Film Awards, including Best Actress, Best Cinematography and Best Editing. His fourth feature, POLA X, based on the incest-themed novel Pierre or The Ambiguities by Herman Melville and starring Catherine Deneuve and Guillaume Depardieu, was a sensation at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival, where is was an Official Selection. Carax recently appeared as an actor in his friend Harmony Korine’s comeback film MISTER LONELY (2007), in which he appeared as a Charlie Chaplin impersonator. Bong Joon-Ho (SHAKING TOKYO): "Tokyo is a city endowed with a distinctive atmosphere, a very singular sense of space. To show cinematically this “something” the city possesses is exciting in itself. What then are the images with which one can evoke this city, at once so strange and so familiar, as a director and as a foreigner?

    The feeling of vertigo, almost as if everyone suddenly disappeared from the thronging streets of Shibuya; the movements and expressions of people on the pedestrian footbridges who seem almost imperceptibly “under control”; an isolated cat standing in the narrow alleyway of a silent neighborhood. A love story taking place between a man and a woman in the unique atmosphere of Tokyo. This film, short as it is, is a strange love story." Bong Joon-Ho is the internationally acclaimed South Korean-born writer-director of THE HOST (2006), which debuted to rousing fanfare at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival before playing to millions of people around the world, catapulting Bong to the front rank of popular international directors. He studied film at the Korean Academy of Film Arts, screening his graduate thesis film at both the Vancouver and Hong Kong International Film Festivals before directing his first feature in 2000, the comic social satire BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE. His homegrown breakthrough came in 2003 with MEMORIES OF MURDER, the chilling police procedural based on the true story of Korea’s first serial killings on record; the film was a commercial and critical success that went on to engross audiences around the world, resulting in his international breakthrough THE HOST, a monster movie about globalism set in Seoul that earned Bong comparisons to Steven Spielberg.


    Ayako Fujitani (Hiroko, INTERIOR DESIGN) is a multitalented young actress, writer and musical performer born in Osaka, Japan in December 1979. She began her career as a model and martial arts performer before making her big-screen acting debut in director Shusuke Kaneko’s successful GAMERA trilogy of films (1995-1999). She spent her teenage years in Los Angeles studying acting and English and contributing articles to the popular Japanese magazine Roadshow. Soon after she published the coupled young adult novellas Touhimu (Flee-dream) and Yakeinu (Burnt Dog), the latter of which she co-adapted into screenplay form with director Hideaki Anno (EVANGELION and LOVE & POP). The result was the feature film SHIKI-JITSU (2000), which won an artistic prize at the 30th Tokyo International Film Festival. She is a member of the band Father’s Girls and the co-star of the French film SANSA (2003) for director Siegfried. She is the daugher of actor Steven Seagal and his first wife, aikido master Miyako Fujitani. Ryo Kase (Akira, INTERIOR DESIGN) was born in Yokohama, Japan, in 1974 before spending his early childhood in Bellevue, Washington in the United States. In 2006 he played the young soldier Shimizu in Clint Eastwood’s award-winning LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA. That same year he appeared in the Japanese indie cult sensation STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKES for director Hitoshi Yazaki as well as the international festival sensation FUNKY FOREST for up-and-coming surrealist filmmaker Katsuhito Ishii. He has worked with some of Japan’s most respected directors, including Hirokazu Koreead (NOBODY KNOWS; 2004) and Kiyoshi Kurosawa (BRIGHT FUTURE; 2003).

    Denis Lavant (MERDE) is one of France’s most beloved and recognizable actors who began his career in a supporting role as a military man in Diane Kurys’ Oscar-nominated ENTRE NOUS (1983) before moving on to greater roles as Alex in Léos Carax’s debut features BOY MEETS GIRL (1984) and MAUVAIS SANG (1986), the critically acclaimed crime romance co-starring Michel Piccoli and Juliette Binoche. He reunited with Binoche in the international art-house sensation LES AMANTS DU PONT NEUF (THE LOVERS ON THE BRIDGE; 1991) before playing his most acclaimed role as Galoup, the soul-searching Foreign Legion officer in Claire Denis’ award-winning BEAU TRAVAIL (1999). One year prior to that, he contributed a memorable performance as a Christ-like figure caught in traffic in Jonathan Glazer’s music video for UNKLE’S “Rabbit in Your Headlights.” He appeared in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT (2004) and most recently played Charlie Chaplin in Harmony Korine’s comeback film MISTER LONELY (2007). Jean-François Balmer (Maître Voland, MERDE) is the Swiss-born veteran of dozens of film and television productions including several films for the maverick French director Claude Chabrol, each starring Isabelle Huppert: A COMEDY OF POWER (2006); THE SWINDLE (1997) and MADAME BOVARY (1991). He has also worked with notable international art-house directors including Raoul Ruiz (TIME REGAINED, 2000); Chantal Akerman (WINDOW SHOPPING, 1986) and Volker Schlöndorff (SWANN IN LOVE, 1984). He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 1978 César Awards for his performance in Alain Corneau’s THE MENACE. On the television side, he has appeared as Commandant Gabriel Rovère in 27 episodes of the popular French police drama BOULEVARD DU PALAIS, which began its successful run in 1998.

    Teruyuki Kagawa (The Man, SHAKING TOKYO) was twice nominated for the Best Supporting Actor award at the Japanese Academy Awards for his roles in Yukio Ninagawa’s WARAU LEMON (2004) and Isao Yukisada’s KITA NO ZERONEN (2005) before going on to play memorable roles in Takashi Miike’s international hit spaghetti western SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO (2007) and Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s corporate drama and Cannes Film Festival selection TOKYO SONATA (2008). Yu Aoi (Pizza Delivery Girl, SHAKING TOKYO) was born in 1985 in Kasuga, Fukuoka, Japan. She has appeared in numerous movies, including two films for acclaimed director Shunji Iwai, the youth drama ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU-CHOU (2001) and HANA AND ALICE (2004), for which she was awarded the Japanese Professional Movie Award for her portrayal of Setsuku (Alice) Arisugawa in 2005. She was won numerous other awards, including Best Supporting Actress at the Japanese Academy Awards for her breakthrough performance as Kimiko Tanigawa in Sang-il Lee’s HULA GIRLS (2006), which also won prizes for Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay. During the same year she received the Blue Ribbon Award and the Best Actress prize at the Yokohama Film Festival for her work in HULA GIRLS and the HONEY AND CLOVER live-action movie.


    INTERIOR DESIGN CAST Hiroko: Ayako Fujitani Akira: Ryo Kase Akemi: Ayumi Ito CREW Director: Michel Gondry Screenplay: Gabrielle Bell and Michel Gondry Adapted from the comic Cecil and Jordan in New York by Gabrielle Bell, from an idea by Sadie Hales Original Music: Etienne Charry DP: Masami Inomoto Lighting: Shinichi Matsukuma Sound: Takeshi Ogawa Production designer: Yuji Hayashida Editor: Jeff Buchanan MERDE CAST Merde: Denis Lavant Maître Voland: Jean-François Balmer Public Prosecutor: Renji Ishibashi CREW Writer and Director: Leos Carax DP: Caroline Champetier Sound: Fusao Yuwaki Production Designer: Toshihiro Isomi Costume Designer: Celine Guignard Editor: Nelly Quettier

    SHAKING TOKYO CAST The Man: Teruyuki Kagawa Pizza Delivery Girl: Yu Aoi Pizzeria Boss: Naoto Takenaka CREW Writer and Director: Bong Joon-ho Original Music: Lee Byung Woo DP: Jun Fukumoto Lighting: Tokuju Ichikawa Production Designer: Mitsuo Harada Sound: Hironori Ito A LIBERATION ENTERTAINMENT RELEASE Producers: Masa Sawada, Michiko Yoshitake Production: Comme des Cinémas Finance: Anne Pernod Production Manager: Elise Voitey Post-Production Manager: Christina Crassaris Production Manager: Virginie Hoche Co-producers: Bitters End, Kansai Telecasting Corporation, Sponge Ent. Inc., Arte France Cinéma, Coin Film, WDR/Arte In association with: Backup Films, Wild Bunch, Champion Top Investment, Vap, Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, Wowow, Asahi Broadcasting Corporation, Picnic France/Japan/Korea/Germany Color 35 mm 1.85 Running Time: 1h 50min Dolby SRD/DTS 2008


    3/6/09 : NYC Landmark`s Sunshine Cinema 143 East Houston Street on the Lower East Side New York, NY 10002 (212) 330-8182 3/13/09: Chicago Music Box Theatre 3733 N Southport Ave (between Grace St & Waveland Ave) Chicago, IL 60613 (773) 871-6604 3/15/09: Miami International Film Festival (March 6-15, 2009) Regal 10 - 9:15 PM Regal South Beach Cinema 18 1100 Lincoln Road Miami Beach, FL 33139 (305) 674-6766 3/18/09: San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (March 12-22, 2009) Sundance Kabuki Cinema 1881 Post St San Francisco, CA 94115 3/20/09: S.F. Landmark`s Lumiere Theatre 1572 California Street at Polk San Francisco, CA 94109 (415) 267-4893 3/20/09: Berkeley, Ca. Landmark`s Shattuck Theatre 2230 Shattuck Avenue Berkeley, CA 94704 (510) 464-5980 3/20/09: San Jose Camera 12 Downtown 201 South Second Street San Jose, CA 95113 (408) 998-3300 3/20/09: LA Landmark`s Nuart Theatre 11272 Santa Monica Boulevard, just west of the 405 Freeway West Los Angeles, CA 90025 (310) 281-8223 3/20/09: Irvine, Ca. Edwards Westpark 8 Cinema 3735 Alton Pkwy Irvine, CA 92606 (949) 622-8600 3/21/09: San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (March 12-22, 2009) Camera 12 Downtown 201 South Second Street San Jose, CA 95113 (408) 998-3300 3/27/09: Washington DC Landmark`s E Street Cinema 555 11th Street NW (entrance on E Street between 10th and 11th Street) Washington, DC 20004 (202) 452-7672 4/10/09: Cambrige, Ma. (Boston) Kendall Square Cinema One Kendall Square Cambridge, MA 02139 (617) 499-1996 4/10/09: St. Louis, Mo. Tivoli Theatre 6350 Delmar Blvd Saint Louis, MO 63130 (314) 995-6270 4/10/09: Austin, Tx. The Alamo Drafthouse, South Lamar 1120 S. Lamar Bl. Austin, TX 78704 (512) 476-1320 4/10/09: San Diego Landmark`s Ken Cinema 4061 Adams Avenue San Diego, CA 92116 (619) 819-0236 4/10/09 and 4/17/09 Weekends Only: Miami Bill Cosford Cinema at the Univ. of Miami 1111 Memorial Drive Coral Gables, FL 33146 (305) 284-4861 4/10/09 : Philadelphia Landmark`s Ritz at the Bourse 400 Ranstead Street (On Fourth Street between Market and Chestnut) Philadelphia, PA 19106 (215) 925-7900 4/17/09: Sacramento, Ca. Tower Theatre 2508 Land Park Dr Sacramento, CA 95818 (916) 442-4700 4/17/09: Houston, Tx. Angelika Film Center 510 Texas St (at Smith St.) Houston, TX 77002 (713) 225-5232 4/17/09: Dallas Angelika Film Center 5321 East Mockingbird Lane Dallas, TX 75206 (214) 841-471 4/24/09: Columbus, Oh. Landmark`s Gateway Theater 1550 N. High Street Columbus, Ohio 43201 (614) 545-2255

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