Three foreign views of life on the streets of Tokyo

Three short films set in Tokyo but made by foreigners - Frenchmen Michel Gondry and Leos Carax, and South Korea's Bong Joon-ho - Tokyo! finds xenophobes and freaks wandering the streets of Japan's capital, grappling with alienation and ennui, horror and regret, toilet paper and pizza boxes.

Without doubt the standout, Gondry's "Interior Design" tracks a young couple as they hunt for an apartment, staying in the claustrophobic flat of a friend while seeking employment and a space they can afford. As fans of Gondry (The Science of Sleep, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) might expect, these typical pursuits turn pretty weird: I won't say how weird, but the girlfriend Hiroko (Ayako Fujitani) undergoes a metamorphosis one doesn't see every day.

Carax, in his first film since 1999's Pola X, presents "Merde," the surreal story of a Westerner with a crooked beard and a milky eye who emerges from the city's sewers to terrorize its citizens. A lengthy trial sequence, in which French, Japanese, and a made-up language known only to a lawyer and the madman he represents are spoken, tries one's patience.

Bong, of the great monster pic The Host, offers a quiet tale of isolation and love, "Shaking Tokyo," in which a recluse falls in love with a pizza-delivery girl. The relationship has seismic implications.

Tokyo! is a must-see for the Gondry segment, and a strange, diverting pleasure for the rest.

Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at


Directed by Leos Carax, Joon-ho Bong, Michel Gondry. With Jean-François Balmer, Teruyuki Kagawa, Ayumi Ito, Yû Aoi, Ayako Fujitani, Denis Lavant, Ryo Kase, YosiYosi Arakawa, Julie Dreyfus, Nao Omori. Distributed by Vitagraph Films.

Running time: 1 hours, 52 minutes.

Parent's guide: Unrated ().