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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Japanese Dolby Surround
  • Japanese DTS-HD 2.0 Surround
  • Japanese Dolby TrueHD
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Making-of documentary
  • Q&A, Tokyo, September 2008
  • Premiere, Tokyo, September 2008
  • DVD Discussion
  • Original UK theatrical trailer

Tokyo Sonata

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Starring: Teruyuki Kagawa
2008 | 119 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: £22.99 | Series: The Masters of Cinema Series | Edition: #3
Eureka Entertainment Ltd

Release Date: June 22, 2009
Review Date: June 28, 2009

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SYNOPSIS

The latest film from Kiyoshi Kurosawa the hugely acclaimed Japanese director famous for his groundbreaking, existential horror films such as Cure and Kairo [Pulse] set Cannes alight this year with a surprising change of pace to, that staple of Japanese cinema, the family drama. When Ryuhei Sasaki (played by Teruyuki Kagawa) is unceremoniously dumped from his safe company job, his family's happy, humdrum life is put at risk. Unwilling to accept the shame of unemployment, the loyal salaryman decides not to tell anyone, instead leaving home each morning in suit and tie with briefcase, spending his days searching for work and lining up for soup with the homeless. Outstanding performances; serene, elegant direction; and Kurosawa's trademark chills are evident as he ratchets up the unsettling atmosphere and the grim hopelessness of Sasaki's unemployment. In today s economically uncertain times, this highly topical film an eerie, poignant reflection on the mass uncertainty sweeping the world is widely regarded as Kurosawa s finest achievement and was the only Japanese film to receive an award at the Cannes Film Festival 2008 (Jury Prize winner of Un Certain Regard).

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Eurekaís Masters of Cinema series presents Kiyoshi Kurosawaís Tokyo Sonata in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this dual-layer disc. The high-definition transfer is presented in 1080p. The Blu-ray disc is region free and will play in all Blu-ray players (or should anyways.)

Their second Blu-ray release is just as impressive in the image department as their first, Mad Detective. While it can look a tad soft in a few sequences the image is very sharp, presenting an incredible amount of detail in its close-ups and long shots can be equally impressive. Colours are bright and bold, with excellent saturation, blacks are nice and deep, and skin tones look accurate.

The print is also in excellent shape. I thought I noticed some pulsating early on but realized it was actually the lighting of the scene. There were a couple of little noticeable specs of debris present but as expected for a newer film itís virtually flawless.

In all a very satisfying high-def transfer; sharp, bright, and very film like. Excellent.

(Screen grabs below have been provided by DVD Beaver. Grabs have been downscaled somewhat but should provide an idea of the image quality.)

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Eureka includes three 2.0 surround tracks, including a Dolby Surround track, a TrueHD track, and a DTS-HD Master Audio track. The Dolby Surround track (which I admittedly only sampled) is adequate but one of the other two are the way to go.

I couldnít tell a difference between the two but theyíre much sharper and crisper in their presentation than the Dolby Surround track. The film is subtle and quiet so donít expect any incredible moments as the track focuses most on the front speakers presenting clear, articulate dialogue and sharp music and the surrounds present some subtle, noticeable effects.

As mentioned the film is quiet but the sound track works perfectly with the film. Itís subtle, crisp, and perfectly clear.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

MoC has gathered together some decent supplementary material.

First up is a making-of documentary that I assume was made for a Japanese DVD release. Oddly it looks to have been filmed in 1.33:1 but stretched out horizontally to fill out widescreen televisions. Running over an hour the documentary extensively covers the making of the film, half of it devoted solely to the actors and their performances and the other half to the technical aspects of filming. It can be a little dry at times but is thankfully not just a talking-heads piece. While it gathers together interviews with director Kurosawa and many of the performers (including Teruyuki Kagawa, Kyoko Koizumi, Yu Koyanagi, and Kai Inowaki) it mixes in plenty of behind-the-scenes footage with a few humourous moments (I particularly like a moment where Kurosawa points out to Inowaki that he probably has the worst role in the whole film, which may be true after some of the things he had to go through.) The last half proves to be the most interesting when we get a view as to how some sequences were shot. A sequence in a moving car was actually shot using projection, and I was rather amazed that special effects (of sorts) were used during the closing shot (as a note, though, if you donít want to ruin the last 5-minutes of the film on future viewings you may want to skip about 5-minutes of the documentary at around the 40-minute mark as the effect in question unfortunately becomes noticeable once itís pointed out.) As a whole a little stop-and-go but worth viewing.

Next is Q&A, Tokyo, Sept 2008, a 12-minute piece gathering footage from a Q&A session with the director and four leads after the filmís premiere in Japan. Itís short and each member only get a few minutes. They talk about the Cannes premiere and its win, and also talk about the filmís acceptance, their favourite moments from the film, and then the actual shoot.

Premiere, Tokyo, Sept 2008 is what I assume was the introduction to the premiere of the film in Tokyo, this edited together sequence running 15-minutes. The director and the actors stand up front in front of the audience and briefly talk about the film and the performers talk about their excitement over working with Kurosawa.

DVD Discussion presents a 9-minute piece with Kurosawa and actors Teruyuki Kurosawa and Kyoko Koizumi about the advantages of DVD, specifically special features and how one can look at the multiple steps that go into the process of making a film. Itís a neat feature though not a necessary one to view.

The disc closes with a high-def presentation of the UK trailer.

And of course a booklet is included. This 25-page booklet features an essay by writer/filmmaker B. Kite, who gives a nice analysis of the film and Kurosawaís career.

And thatís it. Not loaded but there is some good material here and all of it is worth going through.

7/10

CLOSING

The features are good but the selling point here is the excellent transfer for the film. Itís sharp and crisp, very film like, and another excellent high-def presentation from Eurekaís Masters of Cinema series. Definitely worth picking up.

(As mentioned previously this Blu-ray disc is region free and should play in all Blu-ray players.)


View packaging for this Blu-ray

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