Black Test Car + The Black Report

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DarkImbecile
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Black Test Car + The Black Report

#1 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri May 29, 2020 11:10 am

Image

Japanese maverick director Yasuzo Masumura (Blind Beast) helms a bitingly satirical espionage thriller set in the heart of the Japanese auto industry in his 1962 landmark Black Test Car, which launched a series of similarly themed “Black” films.

In a bitter, take-no-prisoners corporate war between the Tiger Motorcar Company and their competitors, the Yamato Company, undercover spies have infiltrated both sides. As Tiger prepares to launch its newest “Pioneer” car and a prototype bursts into flames, Toru (Hideo Takamatsu, The Last Emperor) heads a secretive task force to root out Yamato’s spy, and find out what they can about the competitor's familiar-looking new model.

Making its worldwide Blu-ray debut, Black Test Car is paired here with the English-language video premiere of its follow-up The Black Report, also directed by Masumura.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
  • High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentation of Black Test Car and The Black Report
  • Original uncompressed Japanese mono audio on both films
  • Optional newly translated English subtitles on both films
  • Newly recorded critical appreciation by Jonathan Rosenbaum
  • Theatrical trailers for both films
  • Image galleries for both films
  • Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet with new writing on the films by Mark Downing Roberts

Glowingwabbit
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Re: Black Test Car + The Black Report

#2 Post by Glowingwabbit » Fri May 29, 2020 11:16 am

DarkImbecile wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 11:10 am

[*]Newly recorded critical appreciation by Jonathan Rosenbaum
Not my favorite (haven't seen The Black Report before though), but any Masumura on blu is long overdue. I hope this sells well so we can get more titles. Hopefully we'll see some come out on the Academy line as well. It's a shame the extras are minimal but I'm glad they got Rosenbaum to record something new as he's a big Masumura booster and the whole reason I discovered his filmography.

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Lowry_Sam
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Re: Black Test Car + The Black Report

#3 Post by Lowry_Sam » Fri May 29, 2020 1:09 pm

Would have loved a box set with all of his available 60s output, but getting at least one title on blu is certainly welcome. Guess it'll be to late to make a buck of the dvd, but bodes well for some of the other fantoma titles to follow. For me this is one of those Japanese 60s films (Black Lizard, Goku Body Snatcher From Hell,...) that despite any flaws, I find highly entertaining from their strangeness alone because they diverge so much from Western film conventions of the period. I get much more excited by seeing more of these resurrected/restored than from an announcement of a new film from Lynch or Tarantino.

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J Wilson
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Re: Black Test Car + The Black Report

#4 Post by J Wilson » Fri May 29, 2020 2:53 pm

Love Black Test Car, and I have long hoped someone would bring some of the follow-ups that were mentioned in the Fantoma liner notes out in English, so this is fantastic news to get at least one more.

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agnamaracs
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Re: Black Test Car + The Black Report

#5 Post by agnamaracs » Sat May 30, 2020 8:18 pm

Ah, getting nostalgic for Fantoma. Add me to the list of people who'd love to see more Masumura on disc. At the very, very least, Giants and Toys needs to be back in circulation.

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Grand Wazoo
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Re: Black Test Car + The Black Report

#6 Post by Grand Wazoo » Sat May 30, 2020 8:34 pm

Hopefully we can also get a blu of Red Angel.

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headacheboy
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Re: Black Test Car + The Black Report

#7 Post by headacheboy » Sat May 30, 2020 10:51 pm

Grand Wazoo wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 8:34 pm
Hopefully we can also get a blu of Red Angel.
As much as I am a fan of Black Test Car and Giants and Toys, a blu of Red Angel is my number one choice as well.

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Michael Kerpan
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Re: Black Test Car + The Black Report

#8 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat May 30, 2020 11:02 pm

Some of Ichikawa's black comedies would be nice too... (inexplicably neglected).

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swo17
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Re: Black Test Car + The Black Report

#9 Post by swo17 » Sat May 30, 2020 11:05 pm

headacheboy wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 10:51 pm
Grand Wazoo wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 8:34 pm
Hopefully we can also get a blu of Red Angel.
As much as I am a fan of Black Test Car and Giants and Toys, a blu of Red Angel is my number one choice as well.
Don't forget Blind Beast!

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headacheboy
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 8:57 pm

Re: Black Test Car + The Black Report

#10 Post by headacheboy » Wed Jun 03, 2020 2:01 pm

swo17 wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 11:05 pm
headacheboy wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 10:51 pm
Grand Wazoo wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 8:34 pm
Hopefully we can also get a blu of Red Angel.
As much as I am a fan of Black Test Car and Giants and Toys, a blu of Red Angel is my number one choice as well.
Don't forget Blind Beast!
I did forget that, but yes, add that to the list and Afraid To Die needs to be added. I think those were all five of the Masamura Fantomas!

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colinr0380
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Re: Black Test Car + The Black Report

#11 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Jun 03, 2020 2:25 pm

headacheboy wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 2:01 pm
I did forget that, but yes, add that to the list and Afraid To Die needs to be added. I think those were all five of the Masamura Fantomas!
Afraid To Die is one of the handful of films starring Yukio Mishima too.

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J Wilson
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Re: Black Test Car + The Black Report

#12 Post by J Wilson » Sat Jun 06, 2020 12:46 pm

headacheboy wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 2:01 pm
swo17 wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 11:05 pm
headacheboy wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 10:51 pm


As much as I am a fan of Black Test Car and Giants and Toys, a blu of Red Angel is my number one choice as well.
Don't forget Blind Beast!
I did forget that, but yes, add that to the list and Afraid To Die needs to be added. I think those were all five of the Masamura Fantomas!
They did Manji as well.

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The Elegant Dandy Fop
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Re: Black Test Car + The Black Report

#13 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:50 pm

I remember renting the DVD (when rental stores existed) of Giants and Toys as a teen, introducing to the dizzying world of Yasuzo Masamura. If you think films by Nagisa Oshima like Boy or The Sun's Burial can feel cynical or grim, they often feel light in comparison to the bleak, satirical world video of Masamura. For all the numerous Masamura films I've seen from films he did for ATG in the 70s, his Hanzo the Razor film, and numerous masterpieces of the 60s, I for some reason hadn't seen these two.

The Black Report fis a fairly standard procedural film for the first hour on how to build a murder case and was sort of let down by how unspectacular and sort of toothless it felt. This was until the last half-hour of the film which is probably among the most nihilistic of his entire output. The running theme of his best contemporary set works of this era is the power and desire for money and here a man's death is made to be so cheap as all his friends, family, and lover are willing to lie about the circumstances surrounding his death solely for a bit of financial gain. And when they begin to feel guilt, it's not even entirely out of altruism, but out of the fact they got cheated out of finances themselves. The film doesn't even allow any sort of redemption to be a sort of saving grace and goes completely through with the best sort of unsatisfying ending where there feels to be no chance to beat the system.

Unlike The Black Report which has a shakey first hour, The Black Test Car is a masterpiece. Masamura's 'scope cinematography of these cramped interiors isolate all these salarymen turned thugs into these empty, soulless places. It's sort of a reworking of Giants and Toys, but instead of using humor to display the self-destructive nature of advancing in Japan's rapidly expanding corporate economy, it depicts it with a sense of cruelty. There's also an underlying element of lingering militarism being used in corporate espionage as all the superiors of the competing automobile company are connected to Japan's former territory in Manchuria, a sort of taste of the underlying brutality of the people involved in these worlds. I re-watched Juzo Itami's Minbo the night before, a very different movie, but it was interesting comparing the trope of cinematic yakuza versus the gruff salarymen of this film as their tactics for extortion, blackmail, and manipulation were so similar. It implies the fascistic tendencies of these meek salarymen as their inhumanity evolves when they build divisions among their own factions to funnel out the weak and to sacrifice their interpersonal relations for potential advancements in their job.

The last half year for Arrow Video have been spectacular and I'm happy to see between this, Warning from Space, and the Gamera box set, they've begun tapping into the Kadokawa library. I hope this sells well enough to see more Yasuzo Masamura in the future.

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L.A.
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Re: Black Test Car + The Black Report

#14 Post by L.A. » Mon Sep 07, 2020 3:16 pm


HugoDeVries
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Re: Black Test Car + The Black Report

#15 Post by HugoDeVries » Sat Apr 10, 2021 4:25 am

Picked this up in the Arrow sale and thoroughly enjoyed both these films. While the disc is crying out for a commentary, the lack of ‘heroes’, the social satire of flawed institutions, the bleak almost Shakespearean plots, the brooding scores and most of all the composition of frames and their editing, made them highly watchable and the disc has jumped to one of my favourites from Arrow.

The booklet mentions 11 flims in Daiei’s ‘Black’ series, can anyone tell me the complete list or point me to an online resource?

Any plans from Arrow to release more…or just more 50’s/60’s Japanese thrillers generally.

Giants and Toys is coming so any chance of more Masumura as well, a box set like the Diamond Guys, (a series I wish they did more of), or Suzuki the early years would be great.

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neilist
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Re: Black Test Car + The Black Report

#16 Post by neilist » Sat Apr 10, 2021 5:04 am

HugoDeVries wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 4:25 am
Giants and Toys is coming so any chance of more Masumura as well
In addition to ‘Giants And Toys’, ‘Irezumi’ is coming too.

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