Three Films About Tokyo

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Oct 09

Three Films About Tokyo: 1: Tokyo Gore Police

Do You See + FT1 comment • 472 views

I saw three films last week set in Tokyo. None of them, not even the one with the city in the title, would claim to be about Tokyo, but they ended up creating a triptych of Tokyo which, more than any individual film, reminded me of that crazy city. After all Ozu’s Tokyo Story is not about Tokyo, but still manages to say something about it. So while none of these films were all that great, its worth having a look at them to see what they can tell us about Tokyo.

With Tokyo Gore Police, its simple. It is a crazy ass film. It knows it is crazy, it wants to be. And often in those moments of self conscious madness and pride that we see the real madness of an impossibly large city like Tokyo. Its the madness of being out of control and not caring.

Tokyo Gore Police is a future set splatter pic which tries to give itself a few airs and graces via the medium of satire. A number of interspersed commercials about the privatised police force however does not dress up what is a gratuitous gore feature, especially if you’ve seen Robocop or Starship Troopers.

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1
Nov 09

Three Films About Tokyo: 2: Air Doll

Do You See + FT1 comment • 876 views

Whilst I hate answering the question “what is your favourite movie”, there is a fair chance that if you ask me, and I give you an answer, it will be After-Life directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. Ten years old now its a terrific fantasy about an after-life based on film-making. It hits all the right buttons with me. Not a Tokyo movie, unlike Kore-eda’s powerful Nobody Knows which I also saw a few years ago (if you follow the link you will find a terrible mistake I made which I thought was significant). So I was looking forward to Air Doll at the London Film Festival immensely, Kore-eda’s new film and his first comedy.

Or should I have said “comedy”. Because it isn’t funny. It is twee, whimsical and wonderful to look at, but is fatally flawed with its decision to not just play its fantastic premise straight, but also to suggest there is metaphorical weight in it. Because Air Doll, is about a sex doll that comes to life. Its Pinochio for the XXX generation. The film does not use much in the way of special effects to make the transformation occur, or indeed explain it, but just know that the doll Nozomi does not walk around in a permanent state of surprise: she wasn’t that kind of doll.

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2
Nov 09

Three Films About Tokyo: 3: The Ramen Girl

Do You See + FT4 comments • 1,913 views

I was in Tokyo in 2002 for a week. I left the day before the World Cup started. If there was ever a point that Japan was geared up to deal with foreigner visitors, it was that week. And whilst the script was incomprehensible to me, and I spoke about ten words, I got by just about. But being on my own for much of the time, the big challenge was with food. And since I ate some great food in Tokyo, how did I do it. Well there is the pointing method (pointing at someone elses food or more likely the plastic model of the food in the window). But another good way was to go to a restaurant that only really served one thing. I eat anything so going to a ramen restaurant and just nodding when the waitress checked if I wanted egg, tofu, squid, rawlplugs did me fine. Because the ramen was always about the noodles and the soup.

The Ramen Girl, being about an American slacker who finds herself out of luck and depressed in Tokyo who decides to train to be a ramen chef therefore resonated strongly with me.

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