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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:12 pm 
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Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

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One of the most important filmmakers to emerge from Japan’s cinematic golden age, Masaki Kobayashi is best remembered today for his 1959 epic The Human Condition, but that is just one of the blistering films he made in a career dedicated to criticizing his country’s rigid social and political orders. He first found his voice—rebellious, angry, engaged—in the fifties, following his life-altering experiences as a soldier in World War II; the four films collected here, made in the same period as The Human Condition, reflect Kobayashi’s coming into his own as an artist. He fought to get these powerful dramas made at a studio more oriented at the time toward quiet family melodramas; they are unforgettable pictures of a postwar Japan troubled by identity crises and moral corruption on scales both intimate and institutional.

The Thick-Walled Room

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Even early on in his directing career, Kobayashi didn’t shy away from controversy. Among the first Japanese films to deal directly with the scars of World War II, this drama about a group of rank-and-file Japanese soldiers jailed for crimes against humanity was adapted from the diaries of real prisoners. Because of its potentially inflammatory content, the film was shelved for three years before being released.

I Will Buy You

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Kobayashi’s pitiless take on Japan’s professional baseball industry is unlike any other sports film ever made. An excoriation of the inhumanity bred by a mercenary, bribery-fueled business, it follows the sharklike maneuvers of a scout dead set on signing a promising athlete to the team the Toyo Flowers.

Black River

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Perhaps Kobayashi’s most sordid film, Black River is an exposé of the rampant corruption on and around U.S. military bases following World War II. Kobayashi spirals out from the story of a love triangle that develops between a good-natured student, his innocent girlfriend, and a coldhearted petty criminal (Tatsuya Nakadai, in his first major role) to diagnose a social disease that had Japan slowly succumbing to lawlessness, devolving into gangsterism, violence, and prostitution.

The Inheritance

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On his deathbed, a wealthy businessman announces that his fortune is to be split equally among his three illegitimate children, whose whereabouts are unknown to his family and colleagues. A bevy of lawyers and associates then begin machinations to procure the money for themselves, enlisting the aid of impostors and blackmail. Yet all are outwitted by the cunning of the man’s secretary (Keiko Kishi), in this entertaining condemnation of unchecked greed.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:15 pm 
Dot Com Dom
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I know nothing about I Will Buy You, but what a great title! Reminds me of my favorite pulp novel title:

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:48 pm 
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Me -- to Eclipse Set 38: I WILL buy you!


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:14 pm 
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Me too, even if I have to wait for the July BN sale .... ;)


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:17 pm 
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Tommaso wrote:
Me too, even if I have to wait for the July BN sale .... ;)

Hope you get it before Xmas


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:21 pm 
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I even got my orders from the last November sale before Christmas :-) But then, I'm probably the only person here who never had any problems with BN.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:23 pm 
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This is superb news! Also, fwiw B & N has been doing 40% off new Criterion releases lately, throw in the membership 10 and you're pretty close.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:41 pm 
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For those interested, I Will Buy You and Black River are available on Hulu.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:54 pm 
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Location: Tokyo, Japan
Michael Kerpan wrote:
Me -- to Eclipse Set 38: I WILL buy you!

That's a surprise considering how I thought you didn't like Kobayashi's films.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:56 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 18, 2011 9:37 am
Black Hat wrote:
This is superb news! Also, fwiw B & N has been doing 40% off new Criterion releases lately, throw in the membership 10 and you're pretty close.

I noticed this at the end of 2012, but it doesn't seem to be the case anymore. A look online reveals no discount on The Man Who Knew Too Much and in the store the other day, I had a cashier check to ensure that Two-Lane Blacktop was regular price.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 8:24 pm 
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Location: Bowling Green, Ohio
manicsounds wrote:
Michael Kerpan wrote:
Me -- to Eclipse Set 38: I WILL buy you!

That's a surprise considering how I thought you didn't like Kobayashi's films.
I was just about to say the same. I've only seen Black River of these films. Better than Kobayashi's more praised (but simplistic and manipulative to me) efforts, but nothing really special.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:11 pm 
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manicsounds wrote:
Michael Kerpan wrote:
Me -- to Eclipse Set 38: I WILL buy you!

That's a surprise considering how I thought you didn't like Kobayashi's films.
These (perhaps because they were unattainable) have always held more interest for me than the films that _were_ see-able. ;~}

The subject matter of these is also a bit more to my taste.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:58 pm 
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About the year discrepancy of "The Thick Walled Room", which Criterion lists as 1953 but Japan lists as 1956, the movie was made in 1953 but finally released in 1956.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:57 pm 
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Drucker wrote:
Black Hat wrote:
This is superb news! Also, fwiw B & N has been doing 40% off new Criterion releases lately, throw in the membership 10 and you're pretty close.

I noticed this at the end of 2012, but it doesn't seem to be the case anymore. A look online reveals no discount on The Man Who Knew Too Much and in the store the other day, I had a cashier check to ensure that Two-Lane Blacktop was regular price.

They giveth and they taketh. Hopefully there will be a few sale/coupon opportunities before July.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:06 am 
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Location: OOP is the only answer
Which films from the Criterion Hulu channel are not included in this set?


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:40 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 6:42 pm
perkizitore wrote:
Which films from the Criterion Hulu channel are not included in this set?

If by that you mean Masaki films on Hulu that are not on DVD:

Youth of the Son (1952)
Sincere Heart (1953)
Somewhere Beneath the Wide Sky (1954)
Fountainhead (1956)


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:35 pm 

Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2012 2:26 pm
Black Hat wrote:
Drucker wrote:
Black Hat wrote:
This is superb news! Also, fwiw B & N has been doing 40% off new Criterion releases lately, throw in the membership 10 and you're pretty close.

I noticed this at the end of 2012, but it doesn't seem to be the case anymore. A look online reveals no discount on The Man Who Knew Too Much and in the store the other day, I had a cashier check to ensure that Two-Lane Blacktop was regular price.

They giveth and they taketh. Hopefully there will be a few sale/coupon opportunities before July.

I'm thinking they'll start doing this in February. January, very little is on sale due to the buy 2 get the third free sale, and list price only applies to that sale. don't think they'd do a double sale whatsoever

we'll see when Narayama comes out.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:41 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:09 am
Thomas Dukenfield wrote:
perkizitore wrote:
Which films from the Criterion Hulu channel are not included in this set?

If by that you mean Masaki films on Hulu that are not on DVD:

Youth of the Son (1952)
Sincere Heart (1953)
Somewhere Beneath the Wide Sky (1954)
Fountainhead (1956)


I'm trying to stop collecting DVDs as much as possible, but at the same time I worry that these online films will eventually disappear into the ether. Are the hulu presentations of the Masaki Kobayashi films all in SD, or are some of them HD presentations?


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:44 pm 
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The Thick-Walled Room was one of the first screenplay efforts of Kobo Abe, the great modernist novelist whose adaptations of his own works for Teshigahara are already in the collection. Now if only Criterion (or, perhaps more likely, MoC) will get around to releasing Kon Ichikawa's A Billionaire, his complete filmography will be available on DVD.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:10 pm 
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domino harvey wrote:
I know nothing about I Will Buy You, but what a great title! Reminds me of my favorite pulp novel title:

Image

Great cover!


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 4:24 pm 
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domino's cover reminds me of the climax of the Roland Emmerich Godzilla film, just with the monster replaced with a 50ft Woman!

Back on topic, are Criterion teasing American baseball lovers by inducting yet another non-American made baseball film into the collection? :D


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:06 pm 
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colinr0380 wrote:
Back on topic, are Criterion teasing American baseball lovers by inducting yet another non-American made baseball film into the collection? :D
But still no subbed release (by Criterion or anyone else) of Shinoda's once relatively well-known MacArthur's Children (in which high school baseball is quite important).


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:14 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 6:42 pm
Zot! wrote:
I'm trying to stop collecting DVDs as much as possible, but at the same time I worry that these online films will eventually disappear into the ether. Are the hulu presentations of the Masaki Kobayashi films all in SD, or are some of them HD presentations?


Technically, Somewhere Beneath the Wide Sky is listed as HD, but it looks like a SD source to me. So, those 4 are basically SD.

colinr0380 wrote:
Back on topic, are Criterion teasing American baseball lovers by inducting yet another non-American made baseball film into the collection? :D

Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice will be coming at some point, I'm sure.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:22 pm 
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colinr0380 wrote:
Back on topic, are Criterion teasing American baseball lovers by inducting yet another non-American made baseball film into the collection? :D

I'm probably slow-witted this afternoon, but what other film in the collection is a baseball (i.e. about baseball) film (as opposed to having some representation of the game of baseball somewhere in the course of the film)?


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:26 pm 
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Thomas Dukenfield wrote:
Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice will be coming at some point, I'm sure.

Well, if Flavor of Green Tea over Rice is a baseball film, it's also a cycling film since several scenes take place at an outdoor track. I think we're playing fast and loos with the definition of a baseball film here.


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