Tokyo Eyes

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Tokyo Eyes

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Tokyo Eyes

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If an air of hip self-consciousness and ironic detachment are the main components of the Cinema Of Cool, then they're the major pitfalls as well, forsaking emotional investment in the characters for so much empty genre noodling. Directed in quotation marks by former critic Jean-Pierre Limosin, Tokyo Eyes could be a parody or an exemplar of the sort of bubbly teen romances cranked out in massive quantities in Japan every year. Either way, it's hard to tell, because Limosin may or may not be sending up a sub-genre that's already perilously self-aware, meaning he loses in both scenarios. If Tokyo Eyes intends to be a knowing critique of the fashionable, ultra-hip attitudes of Japanese youth films, it's been beaten to the punch. Conversely, if it's just another fashionable, ultra-hip Japanese youth film, there's nothing especially distinguished or memorable about it. With shades of Breathless, unquestionably a Cinema Of Cool touchstone, the story concerns a trendy young heroine attracted to a strangely magnetic petty criminal, both played by current teen idols. Hinano Yoshikawa's pouty face and girlish squeak are well suited to her charming performance as a virginal 17-year-old hairdresser who has an innocent curiosity about the dangers of the adult world. Her brother (Tetta Sugimoto), a detective in the Tokyo police, is tracking down a suspect known as "Four Eyes," a bespectacled hood responsible for an odd series of shootings executed at point-blank range, but which nonetheless missed the target. After eyeing a composite photo, Yoshikawa spots Shinji Takeda, a young man who fits the description, but rather than turn him in, she follows him around the city and the two eventually become friends in spite of his delinquency. As it turns out, Takeda's "Four Eyes" alter-ego is a moral response to random misbehavior, such as a racist bus driver who taunts an Iranian family or a bouncer who turns away a girl's boyfriend at a club so his crony can take advantage of her. But Yoshikawa couldn't possibly understand his motivations from the start, so it's a screenwriter's convenience that she implicitly trusts him when she should be fearing for her life. As a portrait of Gen-X anomie, their relationship doesn't make much sense, but then, nothing in Tokyo Eyes is given any consequence, right down to a gratuitous cameo by Japan's biggest international star. Beyond all its winks, poses, and arbitrary gestures, there's a vast empty space where a movie should be.

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