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Film review: Tokyo!

"Tokyo!" is an odd little movie.

It's a trio of stories that are set in Japan, but each was made by a filmmaker who isn't native to that country. (Two Frenchman and one Korean director are responsible for the rather bizarre film.)

Odder yet, one of these stories is based on a work by an American comic book artist, Gabrielle Bell, and her version of the tale was set in New York City.

Still, despite all these seeming peculiarities, it works to an extent. The oddness is sort of refreshing.

Bell's collaboration with Michel Gondry ("Be Kind Rewind") is titled "Interior Design," and it follows a young couple, Hiroko (Ayako Fujitani) and Akira (Ryo Kase).

The all-too-patient Hiroko has been indulging her would-be filmmaker boyfriend's whims for so long that she's beginning to feel like a piece of furniture (quite literally).

A second story, from Leos Carax ("The Lovers on the Bridge") follows a green suit-wearing imp (Denis Lavant) who emerges from the sewers to menace Tokyo. Eventually, he finds a cache of explosives and heads off on a destructive rampage throughout the city.

The third comes from Bong Joon-ho, the maker of "The Host," and is titled "Shaking Tokyo." It's about an obsessive-compulsive shut-in (Teruyuki Kagawa) who becomes smitten with a pizza delivery girl (Yu Aoi).

Carax's piece is apparently meant to be an homage to the "Godzilla" films — hence, the monster movie noises and music. However, it goes on way too long for its own good.

The others have considerable more charm. "Interior Design" may be as strange as anything Gondry has done to date, but Fujitani is very likable.

Similarly, Kagawa makes us care about his character's attempts to find happiness.

"Tokyo!" is not rated but would probably receive an R for some strong violent imagery (including explosive mayhem and natural disasters), flashes of female and full male nudity, some suggestive language and references (slang terms), and derogatory language and slurs (mostly based on nationality and race). Running time: 112 minutes.

E-mail: jeff@desnews.com