24 High and Low

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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jojo
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#51 Post by jojo » Sat Jul 05, 2008 12:36 pm

Looking good. Although based on personal taste, I'm not a big fan of the Prince commentaries I've heard. He's scholarly, yes, but he has all the charisma of a guy reading off a text, which I believe is what he is doing. I prefer Richie's more informal, unscripted commentary style.

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cdnchris
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#52 Post by cdnchris » Wed Jul 16, 2008 2:53 am

Re-release

Big improvement over the previous DVD, though I guess it wouldn't take much to trump that one. I particularly enjoyed the commentary and the Mifune interview.


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teddyleevin
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#54 Post by teddyleevin » Tue Jul 22, 2008 10:16 pm

Just arrived from Amazon. This rerelease is fantastic. Now, that this is done, we need Dodesukaden. But, this new release might hold me over. The cover art is more beautiful in person! And the, new supplements are fantastic. It is Wondeful To Create doesn't disappoint as usually. And, Stephen Prince is in top form. Great package.

adeeze
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#55 Post by adeeze » Wed Jul 23, 2008 12:09 am

And Dersu Uzala too! But that's not even rumored to come. A quick question to any one who has seen the new dvd or have information on it. I've heard in the original print, there's a scene with smoke and it's colored pink, as it was supposedly intended to be. Is this the case in the new dvd, because I heard this was missing from the original issue.

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cdnchris
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#56 Post by cdnchris » Wed Jul 23, 2008 12:40 am

adeeze wrote:And Dersu Uzala too! But that's not even rumored to come. A quick question to any one who has seen the new dvd or have information on it. I've heard in the original print, there's a scene with smoke and it's colored pink, as it was supposedly intended to be. Is this the case in the new dvd, because I heard this was missing from the original issue.
It's pink in both.

stwrt
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#57 Post by stwrt » Sat Aug 02, 2008 4:08 am

The framing of the widescreen image on the new release seems a little tight. For example, when the police and the family gather round for the kidnapper's second phonecall, the chauffeur at far right is almost out of the frame, I popped in the BFI DVD to compare and the chauffeur on that release is fully inside the frame. But overall, the new Criterion is a big improvement: High and Low had looked greyish, smeared and dull before, now it looks razor sharp. Does any other director give us such good "last Acts" in their movies as Kurosawa ? The night scenes in the city are burnt into my vision.

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#58 Post by wllm995 » Sat Aug 02, 2008 11:20 am

VERY impressed with this new CC release of "High and Low"...!

Love Kurasawa's beautiful use of the 2:35 widescreen frame. He really is a master of compositions - with the actors placed SO precisely within the frame - just gorgeous!!

Wonderful transfer, and great extras (so nice to see Mifune talking about his early years in the Army and how he came to work in the movie business),

Big thumbs up! :D

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daniel p
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Re: 24 High and Low

#59 Post by daniel p » Wed Mar 11, 2009 1:16 am

just wondering if there's any chance this has been mentioned as a Blu-Ray release?

I held off on the purchase, but have not heard anything.

cheers :)

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Shrew
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Re: 24 High and Low

#60 Post by Shrew » Sun Mar 15, 2009 2:40 pm

I believe that Japanese liscencers like a six-month window between domestic DVD/Bluray releases and those abroad. I don't believe many of Kurosawa films are out on Bluray in Japan yet; Ran was part of the first wave thus the upcoming release.

So... it'll be out on blu eventually, but I wouldn't expect it for another year or two at least

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daniel p
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Re: 24 High and Low

#61 Post by daniel p » Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:36 pm

oh... not the answer I was hoping for, but cheers for that.
I haven't purchased a DVD in a while now, I might wait for a bit longer.
I swear I thought I heard Criterion had speculated they may put it out on Blu, maybe I was mistaken.

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dad1153
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Re: 24 High and Low

#62 Post by dad1153 » Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:01 pm

Saw "High and Low" over the weekend for the first time. My second 'contemporary' (i.e. not set in feudal or centuries-old Japan) Kurosawa movie and, except for the "Psycho"-like unnecessary final scene (which did absolutely nothing for me), another freakin' masterpiece. Kurosawa indulges in all manner of Western motifs (the 'gaijin' patrons at the bar, the kids playing cowboy, etc.) but never loses sight of the details and small army of characters in the multiple stories he's telling. The movie's masterstroke (which I presume was in the original novel) is to make the kidnapped child not Gondo's but his poor driver's. Mifune perfectly brings out the switch in attitude from caring about his own son to almost not giving a damn about Shinichi before regaining his humanity. Yutaka Sada nearly broke my heart every time Mr. Aoki begged Gondo for the ransom money because, if I were in similar circumstances, me and every parent I know would probably do the same thing. Forcing Gondo and those around him to debate the worth of a child's life over the small fortune he needs to keep his family living comfortably (and the factory he wants producing quality product instead of the deficient crap the other executives want to put out) elevates the first act of "High and Low" far above predictable movie kidnapping clichés. It's a comment on then-contemporary business values at odds with the obvious path to righteousness, one that Gondo arrives to after torturous self-reflection under the gun. I know there are better Mifune performances out there (haven't seen every movie of his or Kurosawa's) but right now "High and Low" is the benchmark I'll measure Mifune's performances on. And the man is barely on-camera for the last two thirds, yet Mifune's presence and the weight of his character's actions are felt throughout the movie.

But wait, that's just the first act. By surrounding the kidnapping with corporate intrigue (I fully expected the other shoe executives fighting with Gondo to be behind Shinichi's kidnapping), side players with their own ulterior agenda (Tatsuya Mihashi's personal assistant is particularly effective at playing both sides of the corporate ladder) and class/society resentment (the dedication/opinion of Gondo by the cops change when he's willing to gamble away his fortune) the movie is both an allegory for members of society (the rich as well as the poor) losing touch with their humanity as well as the needs of those around them. I wonder if the people that lived in the mansion atop the hill where Kurosawa sets-up the Gondo household lived in a similar socio-political situation as the one depicted in the movie (minus the kidnapping). "High and Low" is also a pretty damn good police procedural that's not afraid to dabble in the minutiae of drug culture circa the early 60's (which I'd never seen depicted like this before in a foreign film) and police investigation. Glad Kenjiro Ishiyama's bald headed detective with an attitude is ever-present to break the tension with some welcomed comic relief. Told in three acts (all equally riveting) "High and Low's" 142 min. running time flies by and is never less than completely engrossing until that awkward ending. I still don't understand what's so special about it other than it feels tacked-on and an excuse for Tsutomu Yamazaki to first underplay, then overact broadly his character.

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jbeall
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Re: 24 High and Low

#63 Post by jbeall » Sun Jan 03, 2010 11:15 am

I saw this for the first time yesterday and loved it. This was my first Kurosawa that wasn't a period piece, and I loved his contrast between the "high" and "low" (yes, I know High and Low isn't a literal translation) parts of Yokohama, especially when the kidnapper sits in his hovel, sweating, and then looks up to the mansion set on the hilltop. I'm a fan of all the Kurosawa I've seen, but at this point, I prefer the gritty realism and generally more restrained acting of High and Low to Kurosawa's period pieces. My preference is undoubtedly due to the fact that it's more immediately accessible, given familiarity with the procedural genre, in that it doesn't require too much contextualization (unlike, say, Kagemusha, which I loved, but which almost requires a viewing with the commentary track on). Here, the geography of the city, the class resentments, and the plot complications at National Shoes are all perfectly layered onto the crime story. I bet this'd make an interesting companion piece with The Naked City.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: 24 High and Low

#64 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Jan 03, 2010 11:57 am

jbeall wrote:I saw this for the first time yesterday and loved it. This was my first Kurosawa that wasn't a period piece, and I loved his contrast between the "high" and "low" (yes, I know High and Low isn't a literal translation) parts of Yokohama, especially when the kidnapper sits in his hovel, sweating, and then looks up to the mansion set on the hilltop. I'm a fan of all the Kurosawa I've seen, but at this point, I prefer the gritty realism and generally more restrained acting of High and Low to Kurosawa's period pieces. My preference is undoubtedly due to the fact that it's more immediately accessible, given familiarity with the procedural genre, in that it doesn't require too much contextualization (unlike, say, Kagemusha, which I loved, but which almost requires a viewing with the commentary track on). Here, the geography of the city, the class resentments, and the plot complications at National Shoes are all perfectly layered onto the crime story. I bet this'd make an interesting companion piece with The Naked City.
You really ought to check out Stray Dog, one of Kurosawa's earlier crime films. It has that same "gritty" feel and oppressive atmosphere of sweltering urban decay.

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jbeall
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Re: 24 High and Low

#65 Post by jbeall » Sun Jan 03, 2010 12:28 pm

I'm one step ahead of you--after finishing H&L, I moved Stray Dog and Drunken Angel to the top of my netflix queue.

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The Elegant Dandy Fop
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Re: 24 High and Low

#66 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Sun Jan 03, 2010 4:48 pm

jbeall wrote:I'm one step ahead of you--after finishing H&L, I moved Stray Dog and Drunken Angel to the top of my netflix queue.
"Stray Dog" and "Drunken Angel" are very good, but for more the nihilistic modern crime drama Kurosawa of "High and Low", I'd suggest "The Bad Sleep Well". Just as amazing as a film with beautiful Toho Scope compositions.

"High and Low" was my first Kurosawa, and after going through seventeen of his movies, I can still say it's my absolute favorite.

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daniel p
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Re: 24 High and Low

#67 Post by daniel p » Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:32 pm

Upgraded
Shrew wrote:I believe that Japanese liscencers like a six-month window between domestic DVD/Bluray releases and those abroad. I don't believe many of Kurosawa films are out on Bluray in Japan yet; Ran was part of the first wave thus the upcoming release.

So... it'll be out on blu eventually, but I wouldn't expect it for another year or two at least
You were spot on Shrew!

Surprised and elated by the announcement, it's my favourite AK film. July is a hefty step up from June in my opinion!

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Re: 24 High and Low

#68 Post by Jack Phillips » Sat Apr 16, 2011 9:55 am

daniel p wrote: it's my favourite AK film.
You have impeccable taste.

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Jun-Dai
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Re: 24 High and Low

#69 Post by Jun-Dai » Sat Apr 16, 2011 10:53 am

jbeall wrote:This was my first Kurosawa that wasn't a period piece, and I loved his contrast between the "high" and "low" (yes, I know High and Low isn't a literal translation) parts of Yokohama, especially when the kidnapper sits in his hovel, sweating, and then looks up to the mansion set on the hilltop.
I think it's a rare case of a film title being better in translation.

I'm with Kerpan in thinking that the first half of the film is much better than the second. But I think it's because in many ways the second half is much more ambitious than Kurosawa normally is, and does not really achieve its objectives.

While most of Kurosawa's films can in some ways, to put it bluntly, be characterized by somewhat simpleminded views of the world and they exist within a relatively simple moral framework contained in the microcosm of the film (Ikiru being a shining example of this), High and Low raises more questions than it answers, and manages to be entirely inconclusive, even if we do see where Gondo and the Kidnapper end up.

Gondo is made a much better man because of his experience, and it seems clear from the film (to me, anyways) that only something as extreme as the kidnapper's actions could have opened his eyes to his own privileged position. But the kidnapper being right in that sense does not in any way justify his actions—prison is clearly where he belongs. To give us a clear sense that the privileged do not deserve their wealth (just as the poor do not deserve their poverty), but to suggest that there is no moral course of action to correct/improve that situation is a cruel place to leave the audience, and it is also very unlike Kurosawa, who in every other film I can think of right now, seems very much an optimist. The film offers no honor in poverty, and it provides no sense that righteous action prevails.

But despite this, the film's sense of realism is disjointed at best. The police procedural aspect of the film felt a little weak to me, and as much as I liked Kurosawa's trademark surrealist touch of the pink cloud of smoke, it felt quite out of place in the film. The coda disappointed me also. While it made it much clearer what the film was about, it felt very tacked on.

I haven't seen the film in a couple of years, so I may be exaggerating some aspects of it in my mind. It's not my favorite Kurosawa in the sense that I think Kurosawa's films are better when he's doing what he does best, as with Seven Samurai, Sanjuro, or Ran, but I do kind of wish Kurosawa had branched out a bit more often the way he does here.

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mfunk9786
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Re: 24 High and Low

#70 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:27 am

Re-watched this film the other night and I am truly floored by it. Moreso each time I watch. Rather than even attempt to review it (just watch it if you haven't, it couldn't be more accessible now that it's on Hulu and will be on Blu-ray in July), I will just ask:

Can you think of a film with a more fitting title than this one's American title? There are so many ways that the title fits the film that I can't stop coming up with more.
Last edited by mfunk9786 on Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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knives
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Re: 24 High and Low

#71 Post by knives » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:35 am

J'accuse? Either way though it is impossible to bring down that title or even the film. Top three Kurosawa for me if just for how he develops different sorts of tension. The movie is a film making class in itself.

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MitchPerrywinkle
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Re: 24 High and Low

#72 Post by MitchPerrywinkle » Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:46 pm

I saw this film a while ago and I absolutely loved it. I kind of missed Mifune's presence in the latter half of the film, but it was still gripping, and the coda was an incredibly haunting scene. To an extent, the ending reminded me of the scene in The Dark Knight where Batman interrogates the Joker, mainly in the sense of how Good and Evil are so closely related that by chance or circumstance they can turn either way. I do love how Kurosawa doesn't demonize nor glorify any particular side in the conflict between classes, and that even if this criminal is put away (which he absolutely deserves to be), it won't necessarily prevent another event like this from happening again. There is a deeper illness in society that requires empathy and understanding from both sides, and it requires deeper thinking to reach a long-lasting solution (not to mention honest-to-God effort and motivation). To summarize what I think this film is saying, I think Pink Floyd said it best:

"Us and Them
And after all
We're only ordinary men"

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criterionsnob
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Re: 24 High and Low

#73 Post by criterionsnob » Mon Jul 11, 2011 9:05 pm


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Finch
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Re: 24 High and Low

#74 Post by Finch » Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:59 pm

Pleased to confirm that the blown-out whites from the DVD reissue are no longer present on the Blu-Ray which handles the contrast extremely well throughout in the first or so hour set inside Gondo's house.

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HIGH AND LOW blu-ray subtitles

#75 Post by soulpc » Fri Aug 26, 2011 9:29 pm

Recently I've purchased HIGH AND LOW on blu-ray and was somewhat bothered by the visibility of subtitles. I was wondering if it's only me, and found my way to this forum. Here're a couple of screenshots for example.

I've e-mailed Criterion regarding this, but have never heard back from them. I've been going back & forth on selling this blu-ray on e-bay. Hate the subtitles, but the film is great, so it's a hard decision to make. I've uploaded the same screen caps on criterion fb page a while ago, but nobody responded. Has anyone had this problem, or am I just imagining? Would appreciate inputs.

FYI, I own several CC blu-rays and haven't had this problem with each and every title - I have to say some of the titles hae pretty easy-to-read subtitles.

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