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 Post subject: 35-37 Naruse: Volume One
PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 6:18 am 
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NARUSE: VOLUME ONE

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Repast

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In many of his most successful films, Naruse depicted common people, living their lives. With Repast the director set his characters to the task of navigating their way amidst a pungent atmosphere of fading love. Set shortly after World War II, Repast is about a struggling marriage between salaryman Hatsunosuke (Ken Uehara) and his wife Michiyo (Setsuko Hara). It focuses on the emotional crisis of the bored housewife. The tedium of her domestic life – consumed by repetitive tasks such as cooking and cleaning – is brought into focus by a visit from Hatsunosuke's niece, Satoko (Yukiko Shimazaki). Satoko's arrival, and the amount of attention Hatsunosuke devotes to her charms, leads to further unhappiness for Michiyo, who is forced to confront her future. In the hands of master director Naruse, this adaptation of an unfinished novel by Fumiko Hayashi offers a fascinating exploration of married life, from the habitual routine of everyday existence to the hope for a better tomorrow that may or may not keep such relationships alive.

Sound of the Mountain

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Adapted from a novel by Yasunari Kawabata, the first Japanese author to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, Sound of the Mountain typifies Naruse's preferred genre of shomin-geki (films about the daily lives of ordinary people). Set in the ancient seaside town of Kamakura, Kawabata's home, Sound of the Mountain depicts the increasingly close relationship between a childless young woman, Kikuko (Setsuko Hara), and her father-in-law, Shingo (So Yamamura), to whom she turns as her own marriage, to the neglectful and philandering Shuichi (Ken Uehara), disintegrates. A domestic drama of rare existential insight and emotional subtlety, Sound of the Mountain draws on the concerns of Naruse's earlier marriage films, including Repast (even the pairing of stars Hara and Uehara is reprised), to offer a profoundly moving account of the complex relationship that develops between an older man and a younger woman.

Flowing

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Directed in 1956, the year that prostitution was outlawed in Japan, Flowing explores the inner workings of a changing world, as traditional geishas faced the impending decline of their hidden way of life and the looming spectre of prostitution. It depicts the story of a widow, Rika (Kinuyo Tanaka), who is forced to work for a living and becomes a maid in a struggling Tokyo geisha house where its proud mistress (Isuzu Yamada) tries to save the house from becoming either a restaurant or a brothel. It is through Rika that we are introduced to the various geishas, who drink and fight, worry over the lack of clients, and attempt to stave off imminent extinction. Based on a book by Koda Aya, Flowing is a showcase for both Naruse's powers of empathy, and his natural talent in constructing complex female characters on-screen. The result is one of the most innovative and revealing of all geisha films.

Special Features

- New progressive transfers from a brand-new Toho film restoration
- Illustrated audio discussion with Kent Jones and Phillip Lopate (Repast & Flowing)
- Full-length audio commentary with Kent Jones and Phillip Lopate (Sound of the Mountain)
- New and improved optional English subtitles
- A 184-page book featuring the writing of Audie Bock, Phillip Lopate, and Catherine Russell accompanies this box set


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 6:29 am 
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peerpee wrote:
MoC will release three Mikio Naruse films in July, in a boxset. They won't be available separately (unless the boxset sells abysmally and we crack them out after a couple of years).

The MoC titles are:

SOUND OF THE MOUNTAIN
MESHI/REPAST
FLOWING

curious if any (potential) CC overlap, if the Janus boxset murmuring turns out to be true.

Good news from any angle. 06 will finally see some Naruse justice done.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 8:38 am 
some kind of release of Naruse is on the horizon conxidering the recently Naruse retrospectie in NYC this past fall. The Japanese Culutural Society presented about 20 or so films all with newly remaster prints. think its just a matter of time.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 4:23 pm 
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I'm very excited about this. However, I'm not looking forward to the inevitable backlash all this critical and fan attention Naruse is getting. Maybe I'm jumping the gun on this, but I can see a lot of people being dissapointed in Naruse not being "Asian Extreme". Don't get me wrong though, I hope everyone and their brother buys the box set, and anything else that comes along.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 12:12 am 

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Steven H wrote:
Maybe I'm jumping the gun on this, but I can see a lot of people being dissapointed in Naruse not being "Asian Extreme".

On the contrary, I can see this boxset becoming MoC's best seller. It's very rare to have a boxset such as this, one consisting of equally wonderful films which have never been released on DVD with subtitles before and, not only that, they are perhaps the director's three best films (?). With MoC's usual standard of excellence, this release could end up being the DVD release of the year.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2006 8:50 pm 
not perpee
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Includes:

34 Repast [Meshi]
35 Sound of the Mountain [Yama no oto]
36 Flowing [Nagareru]


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 3:41 am 
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peerpee wrote:
part of the Mikio Naruse box


Wondeful news indeed! Perhaps my favorite Kawabata...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 8:32 am 
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Kinjitsu wrote:
Wondeful news indeed! Perhaps my favorite Kawabata...

I actually like the book "Snow Country" even more -- too bad Naruse didn't do a movie of THIS as well. Supposedly the movie versions that WERE made aren't very good.

Naruse's (and Yoko MIZUKI's) adaptation of "Sound of the Mountain" actually seems to improve on Kawabata's great novel -- which is a pretty remarkable feat.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 12:55 pm 
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Michael Kerpan wrote:
Kinjitsu wrote:
Wondeful news indeed! Perhaps my favorite Kawabata...

I actually like the book "Snow Country" even more -- too bad Naruse didn't do a movie of THIS as well. Supposedly the movie versions that WERE made aren't very good.

Naruse's (and Yoko MIZUKI's) adaptation of "Sound of the Mountain" actually seems to improve on Kawabata's great novel -- which is a pretty remarkable feat.


Like Snow Country, too, but preferences sometimes shift with age. Say, I wonder who would have made an exciting film of The Master of Go?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 1:18 pm 
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Kinjitsu wrote:
Like Snow Country, too, but preferences sometimes shift with age. Say, I wonder who would have made an exciting film of The Master of Go?

There is an animated series with this title -- but it appears that it has no direct connection with Kawabata. ;~}


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 1:23 pm 
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Michael Kerpan wrote:
Kinjitsu wrote:
Say, I wonder who would have made an exciting film of The Master of Go?

There is an anim,ated series with this title -- but it appears that it has no direct connection with Kawabata. ;~}

You mean Hikaru No Go?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 1:31 pm 
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Kinjitsu wrote:
You mean Hikaru No Go?

That's the one. (My kids have seen some of it -- as one of their friends is a fan of it -- and of go). ;~}


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 3:31 pm 
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Michael Kerpan wrote:
Naruse's (and Yoko MIZUKI's) adaptation of "Sound of the Mountain" actually seems to improve on Kawabata's great novel -- which is a pretty remarkable feat.

I very much enjoy Kawabata's novel. Last week I finally had a chance to take in Naruse's terrific adaptation. I prefer the novel, simply because we get more access to Shingo's thoughts, and I think Shingo is the most interesting and complicated character.

The film changed my reading of the novel a good deal, though. For one, Kikuko comes off in the film (and, I now realize, in the novel too) as so helpless and restrained that my sympathy for her has substantially eroded. To my thinking, she's a more dynamic character than the loveable martyr I'd previously read. This new perspective on Kikuko lead me to reconsider Shuichi's character, which didn't go nearly so well. Frankly, I must say that seeing Shuichi in flesh and blood (winces) actually lowered my estimation of the novel.

The really troubling thing for me is the unbridled villainy of Shuichi in the film. And now that I've seen it in Naruse's adaptation, it irritates me in the novel as well. His thoughtless harm and debaucherous antics devolve, I think, into caricature as the story wears on. Take, for example, his alleged habit of becoming drunk and demanding his mistress's roommate to sing on threat of smashing things(?!?). He does this on a regular basis? I know I've lived a pretty sheltered life, but really now! It's notable that neither the book nor the film portray examples of this incredible practice, instead deploying the character flaw through secondhand account.

I'll stop there. The Shuichi issue is the only real sticking point for me. I still very much enjoyed the film, and it's one of my favorites of the ten Naruses I've seen. I don't mean to rant so much as get some feedback from other people on this.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 3:55 pm 
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I agree Shingo is a bit more fully presented in the book -- but he is also more of a boor himself (truly his son's father -- albeit not so extreme) -- and the situation of the women in the story is not examined as sympathetically.

I don't think Kikuko is helpless -- in either the book or the film. She takes very decisive actions -- even shocking ones.

I think the one egregious episode with Shguichi and his mistress and her roommate is an isolated one. Perhaps problems of translation make this seem like a recurrent event -- but I be tit's not. I suspect less extreme boorish behavior is more frequent -- but not interesting enough to chronicle.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 5:12 pm 
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That makes sense. Thanks, Michael. And yeah, describing Kikuko as helpless wasn't even an accurate description of my impression. As you mention, the second half of the book/film does counter that. To be more precise, I was simply frustrated that she didn't assert herself in the first half, before matters had escalated so dramatically.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2006 5:28 pm 
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backstreetsbackalright wrote:
That makes sense. Thanks, Michael. And yeah, describing Kikuko as helpless wasn't even an accurate description of my impression. As you mention, the second half of the book/film does counter that. To be more precise, I was simply frustrated that she didn't assert herself in the first half, before matters had escalated so dramatically.

I think Kikuko liked her in-laws more than her own immediate relatives or found them more interesting and stimulating.

We see a pattern like this in Ozu's "Early Summer" -- Noriko (Setsuko Hara again) is as fond of her neighbor as of any male she knows -- but she feels an even closer bond with his mother (and maybe his little daughter). She doesn't dislike her parents or her brother's family -- but she is affirmatively eager to become part of this other family unit instead.

Kikuko in SotM has married into a family -- and despite the pain her husband causes -- she is reluctant to give up the ties to the rest of her new family.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 4:53 pm 
I am crying tears of joy. I have never seen any Naruse - only photographs from some of his films, and have been longing after the unknown ever since. Eureka and The Masters be thanked !


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 5:13 pm 
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Some Repast screen shots (from the Toho DVD).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 7:04 pm 
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Michael Kerpan wrote:
I actually like the book "Snow Country" even more -- too bad Naruse didn't do a movie of THIS as well. Supposedly the movie versions that WERE made aren't very good.

Naruse's (and Yoko MIZUKI's) adaptation of "Sound of the Mountain" actually seems to improve on Kawabata's great novel -- which is a pretty remarkable feat.

"Snow country" (Yukiguni) was brought to the big screen twice. The first time Shirô Toyoda directed the masterpiece in 1957, with Keiko Kishi in the lead. In 1965, the great Shima Iwashita took the lead role in a wide screen color presentation but this version failed to capture the essence of the novel, and the DP work of the 57 version was superior. Both versions are available on DVD in Japan.

Does anyone also Kawabata "Koto" ( Twin Sisters of Kyoto )? It was adapted 3 times. I have DVDs of 1980 version that stars the great icon Momoe Yamaguchi and the 2005 version with Aya Ueto in the lead roles. Shima Iwashita starred in the 1963 adaptation but I have not had a chance to watch that film as of yet.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 11:23 am 

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peerpee, will these wind up being PAL or NTSC?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 2:06 pm 
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It looks like a press photo to me, and a stunning one at that. I like both cover ideas, but it seems like both the MoC and the Japanese are too heavy on the Kanji. I guess it would damage, or take way too much time, for the poster to be "cleaned up". There's so much color in the MoC, and I love the scene depicted (Hara) in the background. Also, Sugimura Haruko's likeness brings a smile. The photo Michael posted, however, is excellent. Hopefully that will be reproduced in the booklet (the MoC booklet covers all could double as DVD covers wonderfully.)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2006 11:34 pm 
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Play.com lists the box for a November 20 release, including an audio commentary on Sound Of The Mountain by Kent Jones and Phillip Lopate, and audio discussions on Repast and Flowing, plus a 72-page book containing essays, a Mikio Naruse biography and detailed discussion of each film.

Rock on.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2006 11:32 am 
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Quote:
• Full length audio commentary by Kent Jones and Phillip Lopate.

Meh, I have to say I was let down by their commentary for Toni. Usually, I like two-person commentaries, but I grew rather tired of listening to them try to outdo each other in referencing the most obscure film that any given scene reminded them of.

But anyway, I won't complain about finally seeing Naruse receive his due.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2006 2:14 pm 
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Quote:
• Full length audio commentary by Kent Jones and Phillip Lopate.

THE MIKIO NARUSE BOX SET contains a 72-page book containing:

• An overview of the films of Naruse by Phillip Lopate; a biography of the director's life and career by Catherine Russell; and detailed discussions of Repast, Sound of the Mountain, and Flowing extracted from Russell's forthcoming The Cinema of Naruse Mikio: Women and Japanese Modernity.

not trying to rain on the party, im happy to see this coming for sure.
But wouldnt a few more extras been nice? basically we have one commentary.

many of criterion's box sets have a whole additional dvd just for extra interviews/documentaries etc.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Aug 19, 2006 10:58 pm 
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Few directors make films of such crystalline clarity as Naruse. None of his major films require much more than a good print, hopefully with decent subtitles. a little background is nice -- but is hardly essential. The extras here are, on the surface, quite adequate. If they actually discuss Naruse as he is -- rather than as he has persistently been misrepresented -- they will be more than satisfactory.

BTW -- the new Narboni book (from Cahiers) is an excellent corrective to the customary "Naruse the gloomy pessimist" taradiddle. Too bad it's not in English.

I'm very much looking forward to C. Russell's book. The conventional wisdom as to Naruse has been terribly flawed -- and I hope she will add to the creation of a more accurate portrayal of this (not so simple as typically depicted) artist.


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