Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

Discuss DVDs released in the Eclipse and Essential Art House lines and the films on them.
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Zot!
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Re: Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#26 Post by Zot! » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:34 pm

Thomas Dukenfield wrote:
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.
Thanks Thomas, if you don't mind, how about the ones on the Eclipse set? I think I might have to subscribe to hulu anyway, but trying to determine how badly I want this Eclipse set.

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Re: Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#27 Post by Thomas Dukenfield » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:02 pm

triodelover wrote:
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.
I was assuming the poster meant movies with baseball scenes.
Zot! wrote:
Thanks Thomas, if you don't mind, how about the ones on the Eclipse set? I think I might have to subscribe to hulu anyway, but trying to determine how badly I want this Eclipse set.
No probs. Black River and I Will Buy You are SD and appear to be analog sourced actually. They are watchable as far as I'm concerned, but if these are the transfers that end up in the set, they'll be some complaints I'm sure. The other two aren't on Hulu at the moment (maybe they used to be or maybe they'll show up after the set comes out).

If you're a lover of Japanese Cinema, I'd recommend signing up for Hulu just for that alone. It's a treasure trove of hard to find stuff and most of the transfers I've seen are very good (Black River and I Will Buy You seem more to be the exception).
Last edited by Thomas Dukenfield on Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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triodelover
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Re: Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#28 Post by triodelover » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:13 pm

Thomas Dukenfield wrote:I was assuming the poster meant movies with baseball scenes.
Probably, but you do see the problem. I Will Buy You doesn't just have scenes of baseball. Baseball, and specifically a professional league that is supposed to look like the NPB, is central to the film's narrative. Neither baseball nor cycling are central to the story arc of Flavor, although I think I remember a minor plot diversion over money lost wagering at the cycling track. If appearance in a film is all it takes to classify a film as a [fill in the blank] film, then History is Made at Night is a food film because of the repeated appearance of the lobster and salad meme.

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Ogre Kovacs
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Re: Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#29 Post by Ogre Kovacs » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:19 pm

FerdinandGriffon wrote: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.
Moetsukita chizu/The Ruined Map/The Man Without A Map is not part of the Criterion Teshigahara set. Is this available in an English friendly version elsewhere? If so, you just made my day as I have been itching to see this after falling in love with the Criterion set after a blind buy quite a few years ago. However, I have been unable to find any release of it with English subtitles.
Last edited by Ogre Kovacs on Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Thomas Dukenfield
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Re: Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#30 Post by Thomas Dukenfield » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:28 pm

triodelover wrote:
Thomas Dukenfield wrote:I was assuming the poster meant movies with baseball scenes.
Probably, but you do see the problem. I Will Buy You doesn't just have scenes of baseball. Baseball, and specifically a professional league that is supposed to look like the NPB, is central to the film's narrative. Neither baseball nor cycling are central to the story arc of Flavor, although I think I remember a minor plot diversion over money lost wagering at the cycling track. If appearance in a film is all it takes to classify a film as a [fill in the blank] film, then History is Made at Night is a food film because of the repeated appearance of the lobster and salad meme.
I never said Flavor was about baseball, just that there are baseball scenes in it because that's what I thought the poster was referring to.

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FerdinandGriffon
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Re: Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#31 Post by FerdinandGriffon » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:35 pm

Ogre Kovacs wrote:Moetsukita chizu/The Ruined Map/The Man Without A Map is not part of the Criterion Teshigahara set. Is this available in an English friendly version elsewhere? If so, you just made my day as I have been itching to see this after falling in love with the Criterion set after a blind buy quite a few years ago. However, I have been unable to find any release of it with English subtitles.
Decent fansubs were put together recently, so with a little tinkering the Japanese release can be made English-friendly. As I recall, an official English release is a no-go due to some complicated rights issues connected to Abe's novel of the same name, so if you want to see it you might as well accept that it will be through back-channels.
The film itself isn't nearly as interesting as the source novel or the other Teshigahara/Abe collaborations, but it's still a pity that it remains such a rarity. And the cinematography is wonderful, in color and scope (my avatar is borrowed from it!).

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#32 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:03 pm

Shinoda's MacArthur's Children isn't only about baseball -- it is also about the arbitrariness of America's use of the war crimes process. But baseball is a central aspect of the film (unlike Ozu's Green Tea, where the baseball scene is incidental -- though fun).

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colinr0380
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Re: Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#33 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:57 pm

Thomas Dukenfield wrote:
triodelover wrote:
Thomas Dukenfield wrote:I was assuming the poster meant movies with baseball scenes.
Probably, but you do see the problem. I Will Buy You doesn't just have scenes of baseball. Baseball, and specifically a professional league that is supposed to look like the NPB, is central to the film's narrative. Neither baseball nor cycling are central to the story arc of Flavor, although I think I remember a minor plot diversion over money lost wagering at the cycling track. If appearance in a film is all it takes to classify a film as a [fill in the blank] film, then History is Made at Night is a food film because of the repeated appearance of the lobster and salad meme.
I never said Flavor was about baseball, just that there are baseball scenes in it because that's what I thought the poster was referring to.
Sorry for the confusion, I was just gently (a little too gently perhaps) alluding to a previous discussion in the Insignificance thread.

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triodelover
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Re: Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#34 Post by triodelover » Thu Jan 17, 2013 4:06 pm

colinr0380 wrote:Sorry for the confusion, I was just gently (a little too gently perhaps) alluding to a previous discussion in the Insignificance thread.
That's alright , colin. I only spent around an hour going through all the films in the collection I don't own trying to figure out how I missed a baseball film. Probably accounts for my insistence on a literal interpretation of the term. :) :-k

czechpointcharlie
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Re: Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#35 Post by czechpointcharlie » Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:20 pm

My recent post seems not to have gone through, so at the risk of a double-post: To the question of the image quality of the Hulu Black River vs the upcoming Eclipse version. There is a second online stream of Black River from YouTube, and it is from a different print. The image quality is sharper, though it has a fair amount of moire/pixel splatter whenever there's a lot of black onscreen, and the subtitles are different. This stream is from a Wild Side print with English subtitles. My hunch is that Eclipse has probably managed to license this print from Wild Side for US distribution, and if that *is* the case, I don't think there will be any image problems.

Cinosyrc
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Re: Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#36 Post by Cinosyrc » Thu Jan 24, 2013 5:59 pm

I have the Wild Side DVD, and it's a rather good transfer. I'd be surprised if the Eclipse didn't at least match it.

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Drucker
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Re: Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#37 Post by Drucker » Tue Apr 09, 2013 5:01 pm


nicolasix
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Re: Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#38 Post by nicolasix » Sat May 11, 2013 11:25 am

Forgive my ignorance if this info is available anywhere else, but a search has come up short. Just wanted to know what's up with the Eclipse line after No. 38. I don't see any new solicitations for future sets. Is the series on hold? Is the Koboayashi set the last one for now?

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knives
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Re: Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#39 Post by knives » Sat May 11, 2013 3:44 pm

We'll get another one announced eventually.

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jindianajonz
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Re: Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#40 Post by jindianajonz » Sat May 11, 2013 8:02 pm

From April 15:
Hello Mike,

Thanks for your email. Yes, the Eclipse line is still being produced.
Check out the latest series, Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi
Against the System, released for purchase today! You can find it on
our website here:
http://www.criterion.com/boxsets/952-ec ... the-system" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Best,

Jon Mulvaney

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MichaelB
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Re: Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#41 Post by MichaelB » Sun May 12, 2013 9:39 am

On the subject of I Will Buy You being "a baseball film", this is true in the sense that Alan Clarke's The Firm is "a football film" - but anyone watching it for any great insight into how the sport is conducted on the field will be sorely disappointed.

If I remember rightly, the only actual baseball footage occurs behind the opening credits and in the rapid-fire montages illustrating the ever-rising value of the star player who's the subject of the behind-the-scenes bartering and bribery - and the film is really about this business skulduggery, not the actual sport.

Put it like this: you could replace baseball with any professional sport, and the narrative and its underlying moral thrust would work just as well - whereas something like, say, White Men Can't Jump or Goon wouldn't work in anything other than a basketball/ice-hockey context, as the specific nature of the sports themselves is so integral to the films as a whole.

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colinr0380
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Re: Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#42 Post by colinr0380 » Sun May 12, 2013 10:18 am

MichaelB wrote:If I remember rightly, the only actual baseball footage occurs behind the opening credits and in the rapid-fire montages illustrating the ever-rising value of the star player who's the subject of the behind-the-scenes bartering and bribery - and the film is really about this business skulduggery, not the actual sport.
I haven't opened my set up yet but that comment makes me wonder whether I Will Buy You! provided any insipiration for those Yasuzo Masumura business films Giants & Toys (two battling sweet companies) and Black Test Car (in which the title car barely appears!)

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manicsounds
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Re: Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#43 Post by manicsounds » Sat Jul 06, 2013 7:20 pm

Late, but DVDtalk review

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Re: Criterion on Hulu

#44 Post by member24958 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:43 am

I couldn't find a better thread to discuss the film, I didn't turn up a mention of the film on here, but I was pleasantly surprised with Masaki Kobayashi's Beautiful Days.

Given how few ratings or reviews it had on something like IMDb, I guess I was expecting something watchable but barely worthwhile. It had an Ozu feel to it.

The print wasn't in the best of shape, and I didn't see a mention of a previous DVD release, so it will probably be beyond hope of seeing a BD release in its future.

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ando
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Re: Criterion on Hulu

#45 Post by ando » Tue Jan 21, 2014 12:30 pm

abintra wrote:The print wasn't in the best of shape, and I didn't see a mention of a previous DVD release, so it will probably be beyond hope of seeing a BD release in its future.
Indeed, abintra; I had a similar reaction to the print of Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev which I was exited to watch after signing on a few days ago. My blue ray to mp4 transfer looks better than the scratchy print on hulu+. I'm hoping Mizoguchi's Five Women Around Utamao or Utamaro and His Five Women will fare better. But I like your Kobayashi suggestion. Might check that out first.

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Roger Ryan
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Re: Criterion on Hulu

#46 Post by Roger Ryan » Tue Jan 21, 2014 1:00 pm

ando wrote:...I had a similar reaction to the print of Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev which I was exited to watch after signing on a few days ago. My blue ray to mp4 transfer looks better than the scratchy print on hulu+...
Your Blu-ray would be for the shorter cut of RUBLEV which has much better elements available. I assume Hulu is showing Criterion's release of Tarkovsky's initial long cut (205 min.) which, apparently, only exists in compromised quality.

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ando
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Re: Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#47 Post by ando » Tue Jan 21, 2014 7:58 pm

Oh, so that's the deal. I know Rublev fairly well; the shortened version does make abrupt transitions but none of the essential quality is lost. In fact, as you point out, it's mostly enhanced.

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ando
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Re: Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#48 Post by ando » Thu Jan 23, 2014 3:37 am

Re: Bautiful Days - Indeed, it has quite an Ozu feel to it but Kobayashi doesn't refrain from criticizing the hollowness of American religious celebrations/pastimes like Christmas parties. In fact, it's a running joke in the film. On the other hand, the apparent comraderie that Nakao, played by an impressive Keiji Sada, has with the American soldiers is refreshing; it seems more than a grudging friendliness (although the line Nakao gives his hostess friend about pretending the black soldier is a potato is also telling).

Having no inkling to the nature of the four young adult friends' earlier childhood relationships (they're not shown) I was at a lost initially to the subtleties of their present status. I can only assume that the narrative eventually reveals what someone more familiar to the culture may have picked up right away. At any rate, most of the main actors are exceptionally good, conveying the limits of what their culture allows them to reveal about their inner lives on one hand, and revealing their emotional vulnerability with each on the other hand (including the rather melodramatic and seemingly requiste misunderstandings). Keiji Sada is most impressive when he's attempting to conceal vulnerability. He's never as simply open as Isao Kimura but he's a canny compliment to Kimura's obvious benevolence.

Unlike Ozu Kobayasi doesn't hone in on ritual as a motif. Though it's clearly in the visual forground (flower arranging, factory work, tea service, sewing, swing dancing, etc.) the actors break from their participation in it or provide variations on it. The little girl grabbing one flower after her mother has purchased a handsomely set half dozen; the black soldier jumping in on the drums for Nakao; the rich/retired Takashi Shimura, obviously no laborer, joining the grandmother in turning over the soil for planting, etc., are just some examples of this break with the traditional Japanese manner in lifestyle and custom. In most instances the break may really only be temporary appeasement but it's clearly seen as a good thing and comes to full development in the narrative with the film's conclusion.

I enjoyed it. Fine work from Kobayashi. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, abintra.

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Eclipse Series 38: Masaki Kobayashi Against the System

#49 Post by movielocke » Tue Apr 26, 2016 2:51 am

This is one of the best eclipse sets out there, and it will be my go to recommendation as the best entry point for the eclipse series for all but the most dedicated cineasetes.

Beginning and ending with two masterpieces, and two outstanding films in between, the kobayashi set never lets one down. "The thick walled room" is an outstanding war film and prison film and one whose politics and story are searing enough that I've not been able to get it out of my head. Unmissable for fans of teshigahara, as kobo Abe's screenplay is as stunning as they ever are in teshigahara said films. At times I was also reminded of hitchcocks spellbound, as the surrealism of a few hallucinatory moments peaks into visual disruptions. The incredible and perfect ending, both out in the world and in the jail make the film from excellent into masterful.

"I will buy you" is a brilliantly layered story of corruption as the gambling on a player is doubled over again and again with various other forms of gambling, and since the player is often a participant in the gambling, we realize that his eventual participation in the corrupt system that is trying to "buy" him has been foreshadowed all along and the authenticity of "amateur status" is just another illusion to be exploited for gain.

"Black sun" has kobayashi mix politics, class and feminist layers into a pseudo noir capsule that obliquely takes on the occupation and directly faces the Japanese profiteers who make their living via the occupation and by exploiting the Japanese poor who are also dependent upon the occupation. The films blazingly outrageous elaborate rape setup and exploitation of how society demands a woman "blame herself" for being raped is especially shattering and the scathing and shocking revenge at the end of the film is unbelievably well paced and fraught. And the star turn here is evident from the first frame, as the projected charisma is a dean, Wayne or Brando level of achievement.

"The inheritance" takes a genre form of a whodunnit and executes it to perfection, embedding it with strident class and feminist elements that again demonstrate (and thus are effective attacks against) male privilege particularly male sexual privilege and how little recourse women have against the institutional rape they are expected to accept within the deeply wrong norms of society. Thus, we have a dying CEO/president who has no legislate heirs but has raped himself three illegitimate heirs over the course of his career. He doesn't want to leave his wife any more than a third of his fortune, the legally required minimum (in other words women are so little value to Japanese society that a wife is not even worth half!) so he dispatches his corrupt underlings to find his bastards and present them to him, and if he likes them, he'll legitimize them and give them his fortune instead. Through a truly convuluted series of schemes, double crosses, and twisted fratricides the "family" quickly tears itself apart, but after our CEO rapes our narrator, his secretary, she begins to plot an elaborate revenge of her own and unbeknownst to all the other schemers she is adroitly making moves as well.




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