For its easy charm and humor, Michel Gondry's "Interior Design" comes off best. Gondry's story follows a young couple -- Hiroko and Akira (Ayako Fujitani and Ryo Kase) -- who have just moved to Tokyo, struggling to find an apartment, jobs, and generally to start their new lives. Akira's an aspiring filmmaker-artist, hence a bit of a space case, while his girlfriend Hiroko is smart but directionless. While getting started in Tokyo, they bunk up with a friend in her absurdly tiny apartment. Gradually, Hiroko pulls away from Akira and, in a Gondry-esque bit of transmogrification, she suddenly has the ability to shift from human to chair form and back. As a chair, she becomes part of the furnishings in a stranger's home, and feels herself an object of value, something she lacked as a human being. Gondry pokes fun at Tokyo's housing crisis: The living spaces are hilariously cramped, hardly more than glorified closets. With the low-key bantering of its characters, the quotidian details of Tokyo street life, its movie-within-a-movie device, the human-chair magic trick, and the overall theme of life-as-reverie, this is a Gondry project through and through. And, though not illuminating on the subject of its city, it's still a cute, clever take on Tokyo to keep us amused.
Continue reading: Tokyo! Review
It's a mystery why Kenji wants to off himself, but the first clue soon arrives, ringing the doorbell. Kenji's hanging is interrupted by his brother Yukio (Yutaka Matsushige), a loutish yakuza who has hightailed it out of Osaka after sleeping with the boss's daughter and has arrived in Thailand looking for a safe place to stay. It's not safe enough, though. Another yakuza shows up and shoots Yukio, but Kenji is quick enough to shoot the killer. With two dead bodies in his apartment, Kenji decides to take a walk.
Continue reading: Last Life in the Universe Review
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