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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Japanese Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 3 Discs
FEATURES
  • Introductions on all three films by critic Tony Rayns
  • Conversations between Shohei Imamura and critic Tadao Sato about The Insect Woman and Intentions of Murder
  • "Imamura, the Free Thinker," a 1995 episode from the French television series Cinéastes de notre temps

Pigs, Pimps & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Shohei Imamura
2009 | 381 Minutes | Licensor: Nikkatsu Co.

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $79.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #471
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: May 19, 2009
Review Date: May 8, 2009

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SYNOPSIS

In the 1960s, Japanese filmmakers responded to a stale studio system by looking for new ways to tell stories; Shohei Imamura was one of the leading figures of this new wave. With the three films in this set-Pigs and Battleships, The Insect Woman, and Intentions of Murder-Imamura truly emerged as an auteur, bringing to his national cinema an anthropological eye and a heretofore unseen taste for the irreverent. Claiming his interests lay in "the relationship of the lower part of the human body and the lower part of the social structure," Imamura dotted the decade with earthy, juicy, idiosyncratic films featuring persevering, willful heroines. His remains a unique cinematic voice.

Forum members rate this film 9.4/10

 

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PICTURE

Criterion’s box set Pimps, Pigs, and Prostitutes presents three films from Japanese director Shohei Imamura. The films included are Pigs and Battleships, The Insect Woman, and Intentions of Murder, and they’re all presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1 over three dual-layer discs. The image has been enhanced for widescreen televisions for all three.

They’re all fairly strong and all look similar. I had a feeling contrast was boosted for them, but Tony Rayns, in one of his interviews found on the set, mentions Pigs and Battleships was shot in high contrast black and white, so the look may be intentional.

The source materials used all look to have gone through an extensive restoration process, each film presenting very little in the way damage, a mark here and there being the worst offence. The transfers are all fairly sharp, and present little in the way of artifacts, Intentions of Murder presenting some noticeable noise.

Altogether the transfers look about the same to me, all three discs presenting fairly solid, nice black and white pictures.

Detailed reviews of individual discs:
Pigs and Battleships
The Insect Woman
Intentions of Murder

7/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

Screen Capture
Pigs and Battleships

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Pigs and Battleships

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Pigs and Battleships

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The Insect Woman

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The Insect Woman

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The Insect Woman

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Intentions of Murder

Screen Capture
Intentions of Murder

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Intentions of Murder

AUDIO

All three films present decent if weak Japanese Dolby Digital 1.0 mono tracks. The music can come off a little edgy or harsh, and some dialogue can come off a little muffled. All three present nothing in the way of damage or background noise, though, and are overall quite clean.

Detailed reviews of individual discs:
Pigs and Battleships
The Insect Woman
Intentions of Murder

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

A few special features are spread out over the three discs, each set of supplements pertaining to their related films.

For Pigs and Battleships there is one fairly exclusive supplement, a one-hour documentary called Imamura: The Freethinker, taken from an episode of the French television program Cinema de notre temps. It features Imamura talking with various people and he shares quite a bit, but the directing and editing of the feature harms it, making it feel a little more distant.

The other two discs feature interviews with Shohei Imamura, conducted by critic Tadao Sado, which look to be features that aired on Japanese television following an airing of the respective films. Imamura offers some production history behind the films and analyzes the themes and the female characters for the films. While they’re fairly static interviews I found them more intimate and interesting than the documentary on Imamura.

All three discs also feature interviews with film historian Tony Rayns, who offers a decent analysis of all three films. It’s actually a shame Rayns didn’t provide a commentary for the three films.

All three discs come with their own booklets, each featuring an essay, Pigs and Battleships coming with an essay by Audie Bock, The Insect Woman coming with an essay by Dennis Lim, and then Intentions of Murder coming with an essay by James Quandt.

Despite one disappointing feature (the documentary) all three discs together offer a decent look Imamura and his work, these three films in particular.

Detailed reviews of individual discs:
Pigs and Battleships
The Insect Woman
Intentions of Murder

6/10

CLOSING

This is a nice set, one that comes highly recommended. Despite my slight annoyance with one of the features they’re all fairly informative, and the transfers are all quite good. You can find the set online for around $60, making each disc $20, more than worth it in my opinion. An excellent set.


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