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 Post subject: 104 Double Suicide
PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2005 8:35 pm 

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Double Suicide

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Many films have drawn from classic Japanese theatrical forms, but none with such shocking cinematic effect as director Masahiro Shinoda's Double Suicide. In this striking adaptation of a bunraku puppet play (featuring the music of famed composer Toru Takemitsu), a paper merchant sacrifices family, fortune, and ultimately life for his erotic obsession with a prostitute. Criterion is proud to present Double Suicide in a stunning digital transfer, with a new and improved English subtitle translation.

Disc Features

- New, restored high-definition digital transfer
- New and improved English subtitles

Criterionforum.org user rating averages



Last edited by Martha on Mon Oct 10, 2005 11:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 10:51 pm 
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This is a film I'd known about for many years though a series of stunning stills before this release finally gave me the chance to see it. The Japanese New Wave was perhaps the most radical of the many young international film movements of the sixties, and Shinoda's film is one of the most visually striking in the collection, deploying ideas and images drawn from traditional Japanese visual culture in dazzling pop-art compositions.

There's so much happening here that it's a great pity the disc is bare bones. This is one film that's crying out for background information, and an illustrated audio essay on Shinoda's visual vocabulary in this film (similar to Tsivian's excellent piece on the Ivan the Terrible disc) would have been invaluable.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 11:42 pm 
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Information about Bunraku puppet theater here. Invaluable for this film, I think.

Also, this page has some information about Chikamatsu Monzaemon, the famous playwright whose Sonezaki Shinju is represented in the film. This and Pale Flower have me clamoring to spend crazy amounts of money on the R2 Japan releases upcoming.

I wonder what people think of this director's more current films.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2005 11:56 pm 
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As far as I can recall, the only other Shinoda film I've seen is Demon Pond (Yashagaike, 1979), which seemed to me much more conventional and at times laborious. Certainly nowhere near as sharp and startling as Double Suicide.

How is the Pale Flower disc?


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2005 12:44 am 
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zedz wrote:
How is the Pale Flower disc?

There was quite a bit of talk about this recently in the HVE thread, and I would highly recommend this film. It's fantastic in a lot of ways, but what sticks out in my memory are the existientialism and the gambling, which I think are connected. It's gorgeously presented and there's a very illuminating filmed interview with the director. I'd call it one of, if not "the" best films in the HVE catalog. I'd consider it a blind buy for fans of Japanese cinema.

From what I gather about Demon Pond from imdb.com (after sorting through what I should and shouldn't pay attention to) it's a very superficially bizarre film. I'd like to see it just the same.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2005 6:22 pm 

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I noticed that the imdb lists Double Suicide as being 142 min while the US version(and the Criterion DVD) are at 104/105 min. What could be missing?


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2005 5:41 am 

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Fact-checking on the part of IMDB?


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2005 11:43 am 
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The TOHO R2 Japan release is also listed around the same thing (oddly 103min). I've read a few older reviews, and never any mention of cuts. Desser basically gives an entire synopsis in his book about the new wave, and there wasn't anything mentioned I wasn't familiar with from the Criterion disc. I think IMDB screwed up. Email them, good citizen.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2005 12:17 pm 
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Steven H wrote:
I think IMDB screwed up. Email them, good citizen.

They rely almost entirely on reader imput. Send them a correction on the appropriate web form -- and cite your sources. It's not like they actually have any "fact checkers".

;~}


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 12:50 pm 
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zedz wrote:
This is a film I'd known about for many years though a series of stunning stills before this release finally gave me the chance to see it. The Japanese New Wave was perhaps the most radical of the many young international film movements of the sixties, and Shinoda's film is one of the most visually striking in the collection, deploying ideas and images drawn from traditional Japanese visual culture in dazzling pop-art compositions.

There's so much happening here that it's a great pity the disc is bare bones. This is one film that's crying out for background information, and an illustrated audio essay on Shinoda's visual vocabulary in this film (similar to Tsivian's excellent piece on the Ivan the Terrible disc) would have been invaluable.

I've just acquired this disc & would absolutely second the lamentations for the bare-bones nature of the presentation. There is so much which can be said about this film, which I'd never seen before (fact the only traces of Shinoda I'd encountered personally were his Mizoguchi documentary as well as his Guild interview with the One & Only Mr. Kobayashi... in other words as a man with good taste that he actively used as a springboard to enrich his aesthetic sense as well as his culture.

There is so much going on within this film to be contemplated, so many unorthodox visuals & self-reflexive insertions of unexpected elements into the mise-en-scene... perhaps the reason a commentary or contemporary essay was avoided was because of the potential plethora of completely contradictory interpretations of the tapestry of this film-- just too personal perhaps? Though this never stopped CC before (see Bresson & countless others)

Strictly as an avant-garde device, the insertion of the bunraku puppet-handlers into the visual plane, handling the main characters, is wild enough... one of the most incredible potential metaphors for the hands of fate-- omnipotent-entity of choice, fortunes of Fortune, obligations to family, sense of duty, etc-- that drive us toward destiny; but what absolutely floored me, blew me out into the weather of Neptune, was the cutting-to the buraku handlers (Japanese term escapes me at the moment) who looked into the camera. These were some of the most moving cinematic moments I've ever experienced, period. These puppeteer-looks into the camera, left ambiguous, are some of the most exquisite visual poetry I've seen... one can look into those shrouded faces and see... sympathy? disbelief? repulsion? love?.. for the characters/melodrama playing out beneath their fingers. What does it/can it mean when the handler/ seeks a mooment of mutual humanity with the viewer? It's almost as if you're watching A STAR IS BORN when all of a sudden "god" (or maybe the director himself?) pops out of the void to stare into the camera with sad, watery eyes, then disappear quickly without a word. Beautiful little moments of mysterious communication, open to endless interpretation.

So much of the fabric of the film lends to unreality-- the REDBEARD-opening-type mosaic of period rooftops, geometric montage of architectural patterns via fencing, walls, windows, doors, etc, the blatantly unrealistic interiors... plus the above conventions. But yet here you have all these elements putting a border around-- and a structure within-- a purely human love-melodrama bursting with pathos & self-torment, the agony of the unattainable, exceedingly human and rendered with naturalistic performances. The red & white colors of the packaging made sense to me as the film reminded me of a shiny candy-apple, very appealingly coated with a synthetic shell, yet utterly natural both on the inside and in the overall cooperating concoction.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 1:17 pm 
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Shinoda is such a very thoughtful and eloquent speaker on cinema -- as to both his own works and those of others. I had the pleasure of hearing him discuss Ozu one evening and his own work (especially Double Suicide) a couple of days later "live and in person" at Harvard. He spent well over an hour both before and after DS fielding questions -- and providing frank and intelligent answers.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 2:33 pm 
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Michael Kerpan wrote:
Shinoda is such a very thoughtful and eloquent speaker on cinema -- as to both his own works and those of others. I had the pleasure of hearing him discuss Ozu one evening and his own work (especially Double Suicide) a couple of days later "live and in person" at Harvard. He spent well over an hour both before and after DS fielding questions -- and providing frank and intelligent answers.

Did he discuss in any form his use of the bunraku handlers, and if so (not to sound like a broken record but it was just so fascinating) then more specifically the device of having them look into the camera?

Any recollections you can provide regarding his statements concerning the film and his intentions behind the above-discussed elements (or just anything you found particularly interesting) would be very welcome.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 6:36 pm 
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Alain3000 wrote:
I noticed that the imdb lists Double Suicide as being 142 min while the US version(and the Criterion DVD) are at 104/105 min. What could be missing?

I've emailed Criterion about this three times (over the course of a year) through the "Ask Jon Mulvaney" link and never gotten a response. I see other folks on here seem to get fast responses? Who do you contact and would anyone else mind asking them about this?

I hope they plan to re-release Double Suicide at some point. The original Japanese release was about 142 minutes long, but the US version is only 104 minutes long for some reason.

Götterdämmerung says, "It is a pity there are no extras (a commentary would have been nice) but the disk is still the best we are ever likely to see. It is also severely cut by 40 minutes (what's that all about?)."

See here and here.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 8:59 pm 
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thechallenger wrote:
I hope they plan to re-release Double Suicide at some point. The original Japanese release was about 142 minutes long, but the US version is only 104 minutes long for some reason.

Why do you think this is cut?

When Shinoda visited Harvard several years ago, they showed the DVD (because no print was available). He didn't mention anything about the DVD being a "reduced" version. He seemed quite happy with the DVD.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 9:28 pm 
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The print screened at Venice (as part of the ATG retrospective) was one hundred and four minutes, so I'm inclined to think that's the complete length of the film.

I would guess that whoever entered the information at imdb made a mistake (possibly referring to another adaptation of the play).


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 10:03 pm 
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Michael Kerpan wrote:
Why do you think this is cut?

When Shinoda visited Harvard several years ago, they showed the DVD (because no print was available). He didn't mention anything about the DVD being a "reduced" version. He seemed quite happy with the DVD.

I don't know if it is cut. :| I provided some links (one from the Harvard Film Archive) that state a 142 minute run time. I asked Criterion about it and no one ever responded - which is why I posted the info here (because I figured someone here might have an answer).

the dancing kid wrote:
I would guess that whoever entered the information at imdb made a mistake (possibly referring to another adaptation of the play).

Let's ignore IMDB for a sec. :P The Harvard Film Archive also states "142 min" - although they could have gotten their info from IMDB but I kind of doubt that.

Edit: Oh dear. Here the Harvard Film Archive lists it as being 142 min and then 105 min over here.

I'll take your word for it and assume that there have been no cuts to the film. Sorry for the confusion. #-o


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 12:01 am 
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The Harvard showing listed as being 142 minutes was the very same one that projected the DVD (and at which Shinoda spoke). ;~}


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 12:06 am 
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Michael Kerpan wrote:
The Harvard showing listed as being 142 minutes was the very same one that projected the DVD (and at which Shinoda spoke). ;~}

Thank you for clearing that up. :wink:


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2007 12:43 pm 
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Now that that guppy has been harpooned-- Senor Kerpan, (I asked about a year ago) did Shinoda mention his use of the bunraku handlers at his q&a? Could you give a snippet of the gist of his talk... it's a fascinating film with some tantalizing nuance.


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2007 12:56 pm 
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HerrSchreck wrote:
Now that that guppy has been harpooned-- Senor Kerpan, (I asked about a year ago) did Shinoda mention his use of the bunraku handlers at his q&a? Could you give a snippet of the gist of his talk... it's a fascinating film with some tantalizing nuance.

Yes -- Shinoda DID talk quite a bit about his use of bunraku methods (and about Chikamatsu's work). No -- I took no notes (I feel so ashamed). He spoke for at least an hour total (before and after). I can't recollect much ad to his comments on using the handlers.

He also spoke quite a bit about Ozu a couple of days earlier.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2007 5:35 pm 
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Those automatically generated emails from Amazon have been getting more and more desperate lately, but this one takes the cake:

Amazon wrote:
We've noticed that customers who have purchased Double Suicide - Criterion Collection have also purchased Bloodhound: The Vampire Gigolo, Vol. 3 on DVD.

Thought you might all want to know.


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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 11:50 pm 
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I know this may be out of bounds, but I noticed that this recent video from Pivot, for the song In The Blood (which I *loved*), has a similar conceit of puppeteers being part of the production, though in stop motion form. Notice: some gruesome scenes. Perhaps more Thunderbirds than Bunraku, but still, the link popped into my mind.


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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 4:06 pm 
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It looks like the puppets were moved like in Bunraku but filmed in stop-motion. Great clip. And a Rustie-Remix on the 12''. Allow me to say "Hell Yeah".

Back to "Double Suicide". It was my first Shinoda and I like his work ever since. I hope more of his work will be released in the west. I'm still too stingy for the japanese discs.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:48 pm 
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I'd love to see more Shinoda in the collection --a highly underappreciated master of modernist cinema.


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 Post subject: Re: 104 Double Suicide
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 4:44 pm 
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I agree about more Shinoda in the collection (and with Criterion seeming to wake up to Japanese New Wave cinema in 2009, there is hope), but don't let that stop you delving deeper, since he's probably the best represented New Wave director in terms of English-subbed DVDs. After you've lapped up Pale Flower (HVE), Assassination and Silence (both MoC) you can save up for the subbed Japanese discs. Punishment Island, Buraikan and The Ballad of Orin would be my highest recommendations out of those, but I haven't seen all of them yet.


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