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Western Tokyo Movies

Posted April 19, 2010 to photo album "Western Tokyo Movies"

As part of Movie City Tokyo, FilmInFocus looks at a list of 10 diverse movies shot in Japan’s capital by Western filmmakers.

Slide 1: Introduction
Slide 2: Tokyo Joe (1949)
Slide 3: House of Bamboo (1955)
Slide 4: My Geisha (1962)
Slide 5: You Only Live Twice (1967)
Slide 6: The Yakuza (1974)
Slide 7: Sans Soleil (1982)
Slide 8: The Toxic Avenger Part II (1989)
Slide 9: Flirt (1995)
Slide 10: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
Slide 11: Tokyo! (2008)
Slide 11: Tokyo! (2008)

Slide 11: Tokyo! (2008)

Portmanteau movies based around cities became a recent trend because of films like Paris, Je T’Aime (2007) and New York, I Love You (2009), so it wasn’t a huge surprise that Japan’s capital city became a cinematic target for multiple filmmakers in Tokyo!. Interestingly, the three directors presenting their take on this eastern metropolis were not Japanese but foreigners offering an outsider’s perspective: two Frenchmen – the offbeat, wildly creative Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and former enfant terrible of Gallic cinema Leos Carax (Les Amants du Pont-Neuf) – and Bong Joon-ho, the South Korean director of The Host. Each presents Tokyo differently: in Gondry’s “Interior Design,” it is a large, alienating place for an unemployed new arrival to the city; in Carax’s “Merde,” it is the backdrop for a subterranean, half-human creature called Merde (French for “shit”) to go on the rampage; and in Bong’s “Shaking Tokyo,” it is distant and terrifying for the protagonist, a “hikkomori” (or “shut-in”) who for over tens years has been too terrified to leave his apartment. Those paying careful attention during the U.S. trailer for the movie will have noticed that the song used to promote the movie was “Be Good” by the appropriately titled Tokyo Police Club.