Movies Like Map of the Sounds of Tokyo

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Map of the Sounds of Tokyo Reviews

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Drew S

Super Reviewer

January 7, 2011
Throw this one in the "great concept, flimsy execution" pile. If Isabel Coixet had pulled this off, it would have been an absolute knockout: one part Lost in Translation, one part Leon the Professional, one part The Conversation. I couldn't imagine a more charged mixture. Unfortunately, the challenge existent in realistically representing all of her ideas overcame her, as I imagine it would many other filmmakers. The greatest hurdle was convincingly portraying a romance between a Japanese fish-gutter/assassin and a Spanish wine seller whose only common language is English. Her choice in acting talent is strong, but Rinko Kikuchi doesn't quite have the range of expression or grasp on linguistic nuance that allowed Maggie Cheung to pull off a similar stunt in Clean. Sergi Lopez, meanwhile, is stranded by the utter vacuity of the character - after an hour and a half with him, the only defining trait he left me with was a propensity for really bad Depeche Mode karaoke. The chemistry between these two characters is understandable in theory (much like the rest of the film), but watching them stumble around their lines is borderline painful to behold. I also felt that, for the film's apparent interest in sound, the sound design itself isn't anything special. With such an evocative title, I couldn't help but imagine a film defined by its ambient noise, drawn out in sonic vectors, with each setting's atmosphere especially important to what's happening on screen. Not so.

Map of the Sounds of Tokyo isn't a complete failure. The movie is gorgeous, but carries with it an intriguing sterility, sort of like a bloodstained perfume commercial. It has a dark, mysterious core that stays with you for a bit after the film's over; you're likely to look back on it favorably, even if the process of watching it isn't very satisfying. Some of Coixet's setpieces are very imaginative and might have really popped in a movie with a little more life. This is not that movie.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

February 12, 2012
"Map of the Sounds of Tokyo" starts with a feast that Michael Fassbender's character from "Shame" would definitely approve of. On the other hand, Nagara(Takeo Nakahara) is less than thrilled but calms down when told that eating hot sushi out of a woman's navel is occasionally the price of doing business. But then he erupts when told of his daughter's suicide. Still angry days later, he does not think it fair that while his daughter is dead, her lover, David(Sergi Lopez), a Spanish wine merchant, is walking around...and that's where Ryu(Rinko Kikuchi), a night worker in the fish market, enters our story. During the day, she is followed around by a sound technician(Min Tanaka) who records her eating soup and accompanies her to the cemetery.

Isabel Coixet's films are usually concerned with loneliness and her latest, "Map of the Sounds of Tokyo," is no different with its moody atmosphere. Thoughtfully made, the movie explores the lack of communication between people that cannot always be blamed on different languages. In his three years in Japan, Sergi has only learned the most basic of words. Learning the language would definitely be useful not only in his line of work, but also in not having Nagara hate him. In any case, we can never with any certainty know what the other person is thinking, especially if they are not willing to let us in.
September 6, 2011
well acted and beautifully shot with Tokyo as an other character in this crime drama/assissination flick starring the girl from "babel" which this movies kinda reminded me of.
May 7, 2014
Map of the Sounds of Tokyo (Isabel Coixet, 2009)

About twenty minutes before the end of the interminable Map of the Sounds of Tokyo, a couple of things clicked into place. Suddenly I thought I had the movie figured out, and I was about to cut it a whole hell of a lot of slack because that plot twist was absolutely brilliant, nothing you haven't seen before but the setup was subtle and well-grounded and kind of astonishing. I figured out why ten minutes later; I was entirely wrong. Coixet (Elegy), who also wrote, either had no idea what she'd slipped in at that point, or had meant that as a red herring. In the former case, the movie just goes back to being interminable. In the latter case, it fills me with the kind of rage I reserve for movies whose directors are so inept they should never be allowed behind a camera again (I won't name names, but a quick trip through my hundred-worst list noting directors who appear more than once should produce a concise list). I'm trying to be generous and stick with the former interpretation, but if you have the misfortune of watching this movie, stick around until after the credits and check out the final shot of the film. It reinforces some of what I'm going to say below, and it drove me up the wall.

Plot: Narrador (The Twilight Samurai's Min Tanaka)'s daughter recently committed suicide. He's not happy about it, and he blames her boyfriend David (Pan's Labyrinth's Sergi López). Narrador wants revenge. David, meanwhile, meets a new woman, Ryu (Norwegian Wood's Rinko Kikuchi), and the two of them begin the ghost of an affair, one in which David has no qualms in telling Ryu that when he's with her, she's just a stand-in for his dead girlfriend. Oddly, she seems okay with this. On the other hand, that is far from the weirdest thing that is going on in this movie.

Now, everyone who has delved into modern Japanese cinema-even on the surface these days, with Machine Girl having become a cult smash on this side of the pond-is probably well that weird stuff happens. The Japanese have taken the concept of "magical realism" and thrown it completely off the rails. (Two words: Haruki Murakami.) But the second half of that magical concept is realism; in movies like Hellevator, or even Executive Koala, there's an internal consistency to what's going on. The events in these movies make sense within the universe that the scriptwriter and director have created. And then we have Map of the Sounds of Tokyo. There's the guy who walks around wearing a suit made of bushes. He appears twice in the movie. (Note: I assume this is a male character, but am unsure.) He does nothing in the movie except appear, and as far as I can tell, the only reason for his existence is for Coixet to say "hey, look, I can do that whole weird stuff happens thing, too!". Except that it's not connected to anything, unless I missed something, and thus it's not internally consistent, it's gratuitous... and I'm so annoyed by this I just lopped off an entire star. This is what happens when you don't finish writing your reviews on the day you finish watching the movie. *
September 27, 2013
Saw this at Spanish film festival in Tokyo, not the final edition on theaters worldwide. Heard theater ver is much better.
April 10, 2012
cool title. crappy movie. and hey, what the hell is up with a movie's subtitlers not subtitling certain pieces of a movie that are probably really important (i.e. a movie being shown within a movie, or during the end credits when action is still going on onscreen.) urgh. pisses me off. movie sucks regardless, though.
B R.
February 24, 2012
I swear Coixet brutishly shoved every detail of Japanese uniqueness into this film like a 1st year film student. Ramen, trains, sake, fish market, love hotels, karaoke, etc. etc. each item gets forced into the plot and strung together without much thought and much meaning. It's as if she knew she had one shot at doing a Japanese themed film, and damn if she wasn't going to jam in everything she found interesting about Japan.

Scene after scene is over-explained by a narration that is basically not needed making much of the film banal and painful to sit through. Why let viewers experience their own reading of the film when you can tell them every step of the way? For example, the laughable 'assassin' starts to fall for her target, and immediately the narration cuts in to explain to us that 'this was the moment that it all started to go wrong'. Oh really? I never would have guessed except for being saved by the narrator. Normally films that make this mistake do so only in the beginning, but Coixet trots out the narrator again and again.

Add to that a weak overall plot and you are left slightly annoyed and bored.

I will give that that cinematography is not bad, so theoretically if you turned the sound off and just watched the pretty pictures is would be a passable film.

Not worth the time.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

February 12, 2012
"Map of the Sounds of Tokyo" starts with a feast that Michael Fassbender's character from "Shame" would definitely approve of. On the other hand, Nagara(Takeo Nakahara) is less than thrilled but calms down when told that eating hot sushi out of a woman's navel is occasionally the price of doing business. But then he erupts when told of his daughter's suicide. Still angry days later, he does not think it fair that while his daughter is dead, her lover, David(Sergi Lopez), a Spanish wine merchant, is walking around...and that's where Ryu(Rinko Kikuchi), a night worker in the fish market, enters our story. During the day, she is followed around by a sound technician(Min Tanaka) who records her eating soup and accompanies her to the cemetery.

Isabel Coixet's films are usually concerned with loneliness and her latest, "Map of the Sounds of Tokyo," is no different with its moody atmosphere. Thoughtfully made, the movie explores the lack of communication between people that cannot always be blamed on different languages. In his three years in Japan, Sergi has only learned the most basic of words. Learning the language would definitely be useful not only in his line of work, but also in not having Nagara hate him. In any case, we can never with any certainty know what the other person is thinking, especially if they are not willing to let us in.
March 12, 2011
I really enjoyed this movie. Very interesting and human.
February 17, 2011
my cat watched most of it
kingofthecorn
February 5, 2011
(** 1/2): Thumbs Down

It was definitely interesting but I found it to be a bit uneven for me. A near-miss.
La Celda de Sloth
September 6, 2009
If you cook with ingredients that you don't like, then you wouldn't like what you have for lunch.

Puntuación: 5.5
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