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Tokyo Is Dreaming [cover image]
Tokyo Is Dreaming (DVD) [2010]
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Mitch gives an overview of the book:

68 min | Letterbox | Black & White | Not Rated | NTSC region free DVD includes the full 68-minute feature film, plus over 20 minutes of additional footage. Special features includes chapter selection, outtakes, trailers, photo gallery and bios. --------------------------------------------------------------- Tokyo Is Dreaming is a rich and evocative tableau of life in the Japanese capital, set to a beguiling score by Calexico’s John Convertino. This portrait of the bustling metropolis offers a modern-day take on the City Symphony genre of documentary filmmaking that flourished in early 20th Century cinema with films such as "Man With A Movie Camera" (1929) & "Rien Que Les Heures" (1926). Like those earlier opuses, "Tokyo Is Dreaming" uses the camera to observe the beating heart(s) of urban life—work, travel, leisure...
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68 min | Letterbox | Black & White | Not Rated | NTSC region free
DVD includes the full 68-minute feature film, plus over 20 minutes of additional footage. Special features includes chapter selection, outtakes, trailers, photo gallery and bios.

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Tokyo Is Dreaming is a rich and evocative tableau of life in the Japanese capital, set to a beguiling score by Calexico’s John Convertino.

This portrait of the bustling metropolis offers a modern-day take on the City Symphony genre of documentary filmmaking that flourished in early 20th Century cinema with films such as "Man With A Movie Camera" (1929) & "Rien Que Les Heures" (1926). Like those earlier opuses, "Tokyo Is Dreaming" uses the camera to observe the beating heart(s) of urban life—work, travel, leisure but also alienation and homelessness—subtly drawing a map of the city in which quiet contemplation and frenetic activity overlap. The absence of dialogue, subtitles or voice-over narration encourages a total submersion in this life of the city—a bewildering and fascinating journey.

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  • Director: Peter I. Chang

    Peter I. Chang is a Taiwanese-born artist and filmmaker. He and producer Mitch Cullin established Workshop Lo-Vi with an aim to create quality digital film projects with little or no budget. Workshop Lo-Vi's first full-length production was 2006's I WANT TO DESTROY AMERICA, which was Chang's directorial debut. In 2008, he completed TOKYO IS DREAMING, a non-narrative feature in the tradition of the City Symphonies of the early 20th Century cinema. The film is an observation of Japan's bustling capital during a 24-hour time period. It received its world premiere in UK at the Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival.

  • Producer: Mitch Cullin

    Mitch Cullin is the author of eight acclaimed books of fiction, including A SLIGHT TRICK OF THE MIND and THE POST-WAR DREAM. His novel TIDELAND was adapted for the screen and directed by Terry Gilliam, starring Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Tilly, and had its worldwide release in the summer of 2006. When not writing, he has worked as both producer and cameraman on Workshop Lo-Vi projects, the first of which was 2006's I WANT TO DESTROY AMERICA. TOKYO IS DREAMING is Cullin's second feature film in collaboration with Peter I. Chang.

  • Composer: John Convertino
Read an excerpt »

Film Review:

A similarly phantasmagoric aura pervades Taiwanese artist Peter I. Chang's "Tokyo Is Dreaming", which receives its world premiere at Berwick. Despite opening with Ozu-like pillow shots across the rooftops of the sleeping capital, this quickly adopts the avant-garde city symphony style developed in the 1920s by Walter Ruttmann and Dziga-Vertov. The tranquility of the deserted tube station can't last long, for example, and people rapidly begin to scurry through the ticket barriers and down the escalators to be packed into trains that snake through the soulless urban landscape like electric eels, with their powerlines being made to seem more gnarled and alienating by the use of slow-motion and superimposition, as well as the reflections on the windows of the densely packed buildings whizzing past outside.

There's even a nod to Dutch maestro Joris Ivens in the rainy day sequence, in which the monochrome camera alights on raindrops splashing on the tarmac, the shimmer of abstract light shapes in the puddles and the isolating pragmatism of the umbrellas that the purposeful pedstrians are carrying. No one seems to notice anybody else and this sense of self-containment continues in the grainy shots of a ritual inside a Buddhist temple and then in the footage of the Honen Matsuri, a Shinto procession that takes place annually on 15 March to ensure a good harvest and which involves giant wooden phalluses being carried through the streets on biers while onlookers devour indecently shaped ice lollies.

As a street performer juggling knives is escorted out of a park by a combination of keepers and the police, Chang crosscuts between images of a nationalist rally and newsreels from the Tojo militarist era and draws some chilling similarities. He also makes striking contrasts between a variety of futurist objects and Tokyo's modernist architecture, with the segment seeming to conclude that the steel and glass structures in which citizens spend so much of their lives have reduced them to goldfish floating without much cognisance in an aimless existence.

This sombre concept lingers, as an old man with a long grey beard shuffles unnoticed through the crowds enjoying the Sakura cherry blossom ceremony, just as the beggars and the recumbent homeless have been ignored before him. Even when darkness falls and the streetlights and neon signs flicker into life, the salarymen tend to keep to themselves as they unwind in multi-storey driving ranges, sake bars and fast food kiosks, knowing that all that awaits them at home is the same old rubbish on the telly. With passing allusions to the likes of Duchamp, Léger, Man Ray, Fischinger and Eggeling stippling the action, this is an astute and assured tableau that's compellingly counterpointed by a score by Calexico's John Convertino. And, in the end, everyone has to do it all over again the next morning, as the final montage closes in on sleeping faces as a train hurtles the somnambulant capitalists towards another day's toil.

—David Parkinson, Empire Film Reviews

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Note from the author coming soon...

About Mitch

Born in New Mexico during the "crossfire hurricane" year of 1968 , Mitch Cullin is the author of eight books of fiction, including the novel-in-verse Branches, The Cosmology of Bing, UnderSurface, and the globe-spanning story collection...

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Published Reviews

Dec.20.2007

Cullin is an unusually sophisticated theorist of human nature, and this book is first and foremost an analysis of Holmes -- both as a fictional character and as an embodiment of the human drive to make...

Dec.20.2007

TIDELAND
By Mitch Cullin.
192 pp. Chester Springs, Pa.:
Dufour Editions. $22.

BRANCHES
By Mitch Cullin.
Illustrated by
Ryuzo Kikushima.
197 pp. Sag...