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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 6:39 pm 
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Eclipse Series 42: Silent Ozu—Three Crime Dramas

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The great Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu is best known for the stately, meditative domestic dramas he made after World War II. But during his first decade at Shochiku studios, where he dabbled in many genres, he put out a trio of precisely rendered, magnificently shot and edited silent crime films about the hopes, dreams, and loves of small-time crooks. Heavily influenced in narrative and visual style by the American films that Ozu adored, these movies are revelatory early examples of his cinematic genius, accompanied here by new piano scores by Neil Brand.


Walk Cheerfully

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In Yasujiro Ozu's Walk Cheerfully, which gracefully combines elements of the relationship drama and the gangster story, small-time hood Kenji, a.k.a. Ken the Knife, wants to go straight for good girl Yasue but finds that starting over isn't as simple as it sounds. This was the Japanese master's first true homage to American crime movies, and it is a fleetly told, expressively shot work of humor and emotional depth.


That Night's Wife

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In noirish darkness, a man commits a shocking robbery. But, as we soon learn, this seeming criminal mastermind is actually a sensitive everyman driven to commit desperate deeds for the sake of his family. Unfolding over the course of one night, Yasujiro Ozu's That Night’s Wife combines suspense with the emotional domestic drama one associates with the filmmaker's later masterpieces and employs beautifully evocative camera work.


Dragnet Girl

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This formally accomplished and psychologically complex gangster tale pivots on the growing attraction between Joji, a hardened career criminal, and Kazuko, the sweet-natured older sister of a newly initiated young hoodlum—a relationship that provokes the jealousy of Joji's otherwise patient moll, Tokiko (The Life of Oharu's Kinuyo Tanaka). With effortlessly cool performances and visual inventiveness, Dragnet Girl is a bravura work from Yasujiro Ozu.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 7:16 pm 
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Was excited to see a new Ozu set, but a bit disappointed that these 3 films are already available in the BFI "Gangster Films" set already, with a few extras on there to boot.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 8:40 pm 
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And as the BFI set is going for about 10 GBP at amazon.uk at the moment, this is the most useless Eclipse set ever, alongside the Fassbinder, of course. Another waste of resources while so many other great Japanese films from this period are waiting for a Western release. Shimizu, Gosho, you name them.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 8:46 pm 
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For the record, there are new scores for all three films


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:22 pm 
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Where is it mentionned? Otherwise, yeah, I got the BFI release, so...
Edit: ah, I see, it's in the main description.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 10:37 pm 
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Why not release 'Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice' instead? It's long overdue for a dvd/blu release. I have been waiting for them to announce it, as it's been on Hulu for a while. One of my favorite Ozu films.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 11:39 am 
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The BFI set is better -- because it has my little essay on That Night's Wife. ;-}


Last edited by Michael Kerpan on Fri Jan 16, 2015 3:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:31 pm 
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But neither set has the option of Ben Brewster (the film theorist / historian...) reading out a translation of the intertitles as the soundtrack.

This was necessary when I saw the film at Kent University in the late 1980s as the print was an un-subtitled, silent 16mm copy and he was one of the lecturers on the Film Theory course.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 3:41 pm 
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Well, for those US Ozu fans who stradfastly resist the multi-regional option, this will be a decent addition. But it is too bad that there still some missing-in-action Ozu films....


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 4:06 pm 
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SpiderBaby wrote:
Why not release 'Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice' instead? It's long overdue for a dvd/blu release. I have been waiting for them to announce it, as it's been on Hulu for a while. One of my favorite Ozu films.

Whatever's holding up this, Tenement, etc. for Criterion is holding up the BFI as well. They plan to release them at some point.

I don't begrudge Criterion for releasing this but I'll probably only double dip if I find the scores worth owning.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 4:41 pm 
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swo17 wrote:
SpiderBaby wrote:
Why not release 'Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice' instead? It's long overdue for a dvd/blu release. I have been waiting for them to announce it, as it's been on Hulu for a while. One of my favorite Ozu films.

Whatever's holding up this, Tenement, etc. for Criterion is holding up the BFI as well. They plan to release them at some point.

I don't begrudge Criterion for releasing this but I'll probably only double dip if I find the scores worth owning.

I'm optimistically assuming that restorations are in the works / on the cards and both companies are holding off until they're completed. The Flavour of Green Tea Over Rice in particular is a delightful film from right in the middle of his classic run, with all of Ozu's cardinal virtues: there's no other logical reason why they're holding off on its release.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 6:02 pm 
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I think Green Tea may be in worse shape than its surrounding films. It should be paired with What Did the Lady Forget (from which it borrowed more than a few things). I think this earlier film might be closer to Blu-Ray worthy than Green Tea.

When will someone release the the wonderful (but in dreadful condition) Tokyo Inn!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2015 2:30 am 
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Is there a list of who does the scores for the Hulu silent ozus?


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:48 pm 
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DVDBeaver review


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2015 11:10 pm 
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The comparative screen shots of Dragnet Girl suggest that Panorama's transfer might actually be better than Criterion's.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2015 11:47 pm 
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Well panoramas isn't black and white and is an uncorrected low contrast one light telecine, so criterion at least went to the effort of removing the yellow and timing it, the last comparison looks a little hot but that's probably just the computer monitor making it look blown out as the video will be less than 235 and probably look fine.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2015 11:30 am 
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Michael Kerpan wrote:
The comparative screen shots of Dragnet Girl suggest that Panorama's transfer might actually be better than Criterion's.

I dunno, I thought that too, but the more I look at that second to last image, the more I think Criterions may be stronger. At first it looked like the contrast boosting lost some detail in the woman's coat and the face of the dog statue in the background, but the differences are pretty negligible. On the other hand, there is clearly a lot more detail on the stripped column she is resting her hand on. Other than that, though, I'm having a tough time finding differences beyond Criterion is blacker while Panorama is more sepia.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2015 12:03 pm 
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movielocke wrote:
Well panoramas isn't black and white and is an uncorrected low contrast one light telecine, so criterion at least went to the effort of removing the yellow and timing it, the last comparison looks a little hot but that's probably just the computer monitor making it look blown out as the video will be less than 235 and probably look fine.

Retracted, I looked on my work station instead of my phone and see what you meant about the panorama. neither is right imo, a quick glance at the y waveform for each shows the panorama has a lot of information compressed in the blacks and is far above a correct black level. The eclipse nails the black level and also pulls information out of the blacks. But where things get weird is the Eclipse waveform is flattened in the peaks, even though it's only peaking at around 60% of the scope. So both are definitely wrong in different ways. I'm guessing the Eclipse used auto contrast?


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2015 12:08 pm 
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I nned to take a look at my Shochiku Dragnet Girl. My impression overall was that the Shochiku DVDs were typically better than any of the other DVD options.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2015 10:12 pm 

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I found a copy of Dragnet Girl in Chinatown a few years ago, and I was floored when I saw the punchy, flowing camera work. Everyone always said his trademark was that low, still camera of his but Dragnet Girl is cool little noir. Can't wait to see the other films in this set.
I read that all of these are re scored, which is fine with me because the DVD I have has no score, which is the case with a lot of silent japanese movies.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2015 10:40 am 
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I find I prefer these Ozu silents with either no score -- or some neutral accompaniment of my own selection. I find that his films have lots of "implied" sound and music -- and that almost every accompaniment on DVDs has only distracted me from this.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 8:54 am 
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Well at least there is the option of just turning the sound all the way down while watching. Can't remember if it was the BFI or Criterions that had the option for a silent Dolby Digital track (maybe both?). Too bad none include benshi narration options like the Digital Meme talking silents DVDs, that would be an interesting option.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 11:00 am 
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The scores on this set are the best they've done on eclipse. They blow the weak and distracting pablum scores of the first ozu set away.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 4:16 pm 
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Ozu and Shochiku were opposed to benshi narration by the time these films were made. ;-)


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