After Paris, je t’aime, New York, I Love You, and Tokyo!, the omnibus film could become the next chamber-of-commerce must-have for any self-respecting city (beside a film festival, that is). Gondry, Carax, and Bong work up three riffs not on Tokyo but on “Tokyo”—all reasonably diverting and offering distinctive curlicues on the title’s exclamation point.
Gondry’s “Interior Design” captures a universal urbanite rite of passage: a young cult filmmaker and his girlfriend come to the city and couch-surf at a friend’s box-like studio. It’s the most grounded segment, up until travails transform the diffident woman into a chair, like a modern dryad, in service to Gondry’s special-effects expressionism. Carax’s “Merde” goes Ubu on the city with Denis Lavant as a foul, rampaging troglodyte that emerges from the sewers and soon gets put on (show) trial. The drawn-out satire is like a tabloid Death by Hanging, provoking laughter but far too in love with its half-serious bomb-throwing.
Bong’s “Shaking Tokyo” follows “Merde” (ironically or not with an opening shot of toilet paper) and dashes any hope of a gimmick-free segment in the series. Taking a sentimental diagnostic tack on the modern Japanese condition, Bong stringently houses us with a shut-in, or hikikomori, played by Teruyuki Kagawa (most recently seen deteriorating in Tokyo Sonata). The hoarder falls for a fainting pizza delivery girl, the earth moves, and everyone learns a little something about loneliness.