Wednesday, July 15, 2009



Tokyo isn't really a place I need to visit. But then, I also probably don't ever need to eat mushrooms on the day after Christmas or eat acid at 2 in the morning. That's never stopped me, though! One thing that may, however, prevent me from visiting the East's great capital of WTF is the 2/3 of this movie that are beyond pointless and more than a little bit frustrating. Michel Gondry is undeniably a talented director, but it'd be far too forgiving and P.C. of me to not admit that he's also pretty fucking gay. His contribution here sums up perfectly my likes and dislikes of his work: visually stunning (if not a bit slow getting there), genuinely original, overbearingly artistic and way too goddamned quirky. It's nicely done, it just suffers from his usual obsessive creativity and a half-shaped story that doesn't have the running time to flesh itself out with dazzling camera tricks or chronology-bending twists. Equally underwhelming is Joon-ho Bong's piece. I had pretty high hopes after "Gwoemul," but this is seriously some trite bullshit right here. Needlessly vague and almost painfully cute, it's a pretty by-the-numbers love story for losers gussied up as a hollow meditation on the highly impersonal and dehumanizing nature of Tokyo's cartoonishly exaggerated metropolitan existence. YAWN. The single saving grace of the triptych is Leos Carax's exuberantly manipulative exercise in cinematic assault on the senses. Not only has he crafted one of the best original characters I've ever seen, but this character's introduction and the opening scene of the short is 100% guerrilla film-making at its finest. The piece's unbridled creative energy, embodied most fully by the character's unnerving and borderline hilarious imaginary language, as well as its flat-out refusal to offer any explanations or apologies, not to mention its deceptively simple title of 'Merde' (French for 'shit') result in the sensation that Carax is both shoving his middle finger directly into your face and patting you on the back for even hanging out with him. It's audience-be-damned cinema, and if there are film-makers out there who either look down on it, fear it, cannot understand it or just plain hate it, then you should seriously stop watching their movies.


There's really not a whole lot of reason to watch this movie. I have no idea why I watched it. I suppose I was pretty blown away by Sam Rockwell's performance in the haiku-like "Moon," which left my dualistic awe/fear of space predictably turgid. But in this lesser effort he just seems to be doing an impersonation of a Xeroxed copy of someone who is already boring. Somehow both Rockwell's acting and whatever it is the director is doing completely miss the humor of Chuck Pahlaniuk's book. Now I'm no huge fan of Palahniuk, and I think it's pretty despicable how dude gets away with writing the same book over and over and is still hailed as some subversive cult icon. But during my solid 5 years as a "roadie" for my friends' band--I don't know shit about musical equipment; my main duties included drinking, making fun of people and preventing band members from cheating on their usually overrated girlfriends--we read a lot of his stuff. Something about reading the same familiar tale and discussing our theories with one another helped to maintain our collective sanity amidst the many Lynchian misadventures to be had in the equally pathetic and terrifying asscracks of the Midwest. But somehow, this movie doesn't find it funny that the main character loses part of an anal bead somewhere inside of his rectum. And the disappointingly tame scenes of sex addicts randomly hooking up did little to remind me of the gloriously sleazy blowjobs my goth ex-girlfriend used to give me in the craziest of places and instead made me think of the night she passed out wasted while I had three fingers inside of her. Needless to say, that night left me feeling a whole lot like this movie: completely unfulfilled and strangely angry. Thanks for nothing.

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