by Phil Boatwright

Now on DVD from Liberation Entertainment, with special features, this anthology of three short films by different filmmakers, Michel Gondry (Interior Design), Leos Carax (Merde), and Bong Joon-Ho (Shaking Tokyo), deal with themes of transformation, anarchy and rebirth.

Interior Design has a young couple trying to set themselves up in Tokyo. The young man wants to be a film director. His girlfriend, however, is less decisive, unable to shake the feeling that she’s losing control of her life. One day, the girl suddenly discovers herself dissolving away, then her body parts start being replaced by inanimate pieces of wood. Frightened at first, she comes to terms with her body suddenly being able to transform into a chair. She comes to find peace, discovering her place in life is meant to be a piece of furniture. Okay.

Next, is the unnerving Merde, which celebrates anarchy. A mysterious being known as the “Creature of the Sewers” suddenly appears from a manhole and walks through the city of Tokyo, eating flowers and obliviously harassing the citizens as they are going about their daily lives. After he finds a crate full of hand grenades left over from WWII, he starts blithely tossing the bombs around, killing citizens. He panics the city, yet there is a fascination that surrounds the creature.

Lastly, in Shaking Tokyo, a Monk-like agoraphobic who hasn’t left his apartment in over ten years has insolated himself from the world with pizza boxes and toilet paper rolls (he has everything delivered). But one day, the pizza delivery girl faints in his home during an earthquake. He falls in love and his rebirth begins. Shortly after their first acquaintance, he learns that the girl has also become a shut-in, and he must decide if he’ll cross the threshold that separates his life from the rest of the world in order to find his true love.

This was my favorite sequence as the parable was not only full of symbolism like the other two short stories, but it concerned a positive element of human nature, our need for love. No matter how distraught we become by failing relationships, still there is that need to share our existence with at least one other person.

Though the first two segments are bizarre and somewhat unnerving, still they are thought-provoking and creative. This third act celebrates the glory of love.

Unrated, it contains two or three uses of the s-word and a brief sequence where a young woman is running around without any clothes (though the filmmaker does not show any private parts), a single couple live together and some brief violence as explosives go off in a busy city. We later see a man being hung for his crimes. Though there are some disturbing images, the filmmakers discretely present the content. And each story is accompanied by a “making of” featurette.