While it’s an unlikely venue, Tokyo! offers an addendum to the story of Leos Carax, if not (yet) a resurrection. Reteaming with longtime collaborator Denis Lavant for the first time in fifteen years, Carax has contributed a new short called “Merde” to an omnibus film that also features entries by Bong Joon-ho and Michel Gondry. The names of these two directors are perhaps rather sexier than Carax’s these days — Bong delivers his first work since 2006’s The Host; Gondry his first major short film after making the jump from music videos to features (the next of which is purported to be The Green Hornet, written by and starring Seth Rogen). Tokyo! is nonetheless the rare anthology film that satisfies in each of its three parts, allowing each director to put forth his own idiosyncratic take on the city of the film’s title — from playful to corrosive to romantic.
Bong, hard at work on his next feature, was not available for interviews, but Carax and Gondry were, and I sat down with the two Frenchmen — and with comic book author Gabrielle Bell, Gondry’s collaborator on his film (and ex-girlfriend) — to discuss the pleasures and perils of collaboration, working in Tokyo, and why Americans are harder to hate than Japanese.