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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:44 pm 
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Eclipse Series 26: Silent Naruse

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Mikio Naruse was one of the most popular directors in Japan, a crafter of exquisite melodramas, mostly about women confined by their social and domestic circumstances. Though often compared with Yasujiro Ozu and Kenji Mizoguchi for his style and treatment of characters, Naruse was a unique artist, making heartrending, brilliantly photographed and edited films about the impossible pursuit of happiness. From the outset of his career, with his silent films of the early thirties, Naruse zeroed in on the lives of the kinds of people—geisha, housewives, waitresses—who would continue to fascinate him for the next three decades. Though he made two dozen silent films, only five remain in existence; these works—poignant, dazzlingly made dramas all—are collected here, newly restored and on DVD for the first time, and featuring optional new scores by noted musicians Robin Holcomb and Wayne Horvitz.

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Flunky, Work Hard

Mikio Naruse’s earliest film in circulation is a charming, breezy short about an impoverished insurance salesman, Okabe, who is desperate to sell a policy to a wealthy family, and his scrappy young son.

No Blood Relation

An actress returns to Tokyo after a successful stint in Hollywood to reclaim the daughter she abandoned years before—with the help of her gangster brother. Yet the child’s father, and especially her nurturing new stepmother, won’t give in to the mother’s demands so easily.

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Apart from You

For Apart from You, Mikio Naruse turned his camera on the lives of working women. This gently devastating evocation of women’s limited options in Depression-era Japan was a critical breakthrough for the director.

Every-Night Dreams

A single mother works tirelessly as a Ginza bar hostess to ensure a better life for her young son in Naruse’s formally ravishing drama about the desperation of daily living.

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Street Without End

Mikio Naruse’s final silent film is a gloriously rich portrait of a waitress, Sugiko, whose life, despite a host of male admirers and even some intrigued movie talent scouts, ends up taking a suffocatingly domestic turn after a wealthy businessman accidentally hits her with his car.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:55 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm
Anybody who doesn't buy this by at least the next sale should be banned. I mean it's five, admitedly short, movies from one of the best directors of all time for practically nothing.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:12 pm 
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Wow, great release. The price is ridiculous. I think I actually did a triple take at "$35.96" with a probable online discount that comes to, let's see, five classic rare films for about the same price as a mid-tier sashimi plate. Every Night Dreams is probably my favorite of the bunch but it's been a while since I've seen them all.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:19 pm 
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could that price be a typo awaiting correction?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:21 pm 
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The MSRP is $44.95, which is consistent with most other three-disc Eclipse sets. Keep in mind, each movie only averages an hour.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:23 pm 
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Oh, 3 disc! I assumed 5. Makes sense now. Thanks susquehanna wrestling organization.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 5:30 pm 
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All those posts I've made about wrestling must have given me away. 8-[


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 7:11 pm 
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Finally! I've seen three of them, ranging from good to excellent. Kinda surprised Wife! Be Like a Rose! isn't part of the set - doubt we'll see it in the main line though.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 7:20 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 10:58 pm
Location: Tokyo, Japan
feckless boy wrote:
Finally! I've seen three of them, ranging from good to excellent. Kinda surprised Wife! Be Like a Rose! isn't part of the set - doubt we'll see it in the main line though.

It's because that movie is a talkie, not a silent.

Another surprise is that it seems these 5 films haven't been released in Japan on DVD. The US is getting them first.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:43 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 1:20 pm
Location: New England
2 masterpieces here -- Apart From You and Every Night Dreams. The rest are all quite worthwhile. Really an essential set.

I was disappointed that Shochiku never honored Naruse's 100th birthday -- this will have to serve as a belated present.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 9:15 pm 
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Can't wait for the next DD/B&N sale
Of course, I've got to watch the euro/dollar exchange rate, also


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 10:33 pm 
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feckless boy wrote:
Finally! I've seen three of them, ranging from good to excellent. Kinda surprised Wife! Be Like a Rose! isn't part of the set - doubt we'll see it in the main line though.

We may get an Naruse's First Talkies set. He was somewhat significant in the transition to sound in Japan as I think he was the only filmmaker to have his own sound recording technology. I think the others either used Western Electric or an RCA rip-off.

I'm still waiting for my Yamanaka and my Gosho boxset. Will this ever happen?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:58 pm 
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Ozu experimented (in Only Son) with a home grown sound system, Naruse was happy to use PCL's (i.e. the future Toho's) more or less state of the art technology.

His early talkies were a mixed bag, some were great (e.g., Wife! Be Like a Rose! and Five Sisters With Maiden Hearts), some are fascinating, even if "lesser" films (e.g., Morning's Tree Lined Streets, Actress and Poet), some are oddities that don't entirely work, but are still of some interest (e.g., 5 Men in a Circus) and some are pretty much clunkers (e.g., The Road I Travel With You, Tochuken Kumoemon). He also has some wonderful films from the war era (late 30s thru mid-40s) and some really wonderful post-war (but pre-Repast) films.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 1:53 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm
Is this all of his surviving silents by the way? The title seems to suggest that, but you never know.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 1:57 am 
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Criterion wrote:
Though he made two dozen silent films, only five remain in existence; these works—poignant, dazzlingly made dramas all—are collected here, newly restored and on DVD for the first time


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 2:04 am 
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You wouldn't really expect me to read the summaries would you? That would just be classless.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 4:21 am 
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manicsounds wrote:
feckless boy wrote:
Finally! I've seen three of them, ranging from good to excellent. Kinda surprised Wife! Be Like a Rose! isn't part of the set - doubt we'll see it in the main line though.

It's because that movie is a talkie, not a silent.

:oops: What can I say...I just remembered it as being silent, you know because...ah forget it.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 7:13 am 
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Completely unexpected, and already competing for Eclipse Set of the Year. All I can say is: YEEEES!


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:44 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:30 am
The 2 things I wanted most out of Criterion, more Naruse and more silent films. Combined together in one amazing release. My enthusiasm could not be higher. I've only seen Flunky! Work Hard, and thought it was absolutely wonderful. To hear that this is one of the minor films, is even more exciting.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 2:00 pm 
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Only five Naruse silents survive, but they all do so in reasonably good shape. It took me awhile to acclimate to the highly kinetic style of Not Blood Relations, but that is now my favorite among the five. It will be interesting to see what others make of it when the set becomes available.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 2:20 pm 
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YnEoS wrote:
The 2 things I wanted most out of Criterion, more Naruse and more silent films. Combined together in one amazing release. My enthusiasm could not be higher. I've only seen Flunky! Work Hard, and thought it was absolutely wonderful. To hear that this is one of the minor films, is even more exciting.
Not "minor". Just not as totally wonderful as my two favorites.;~} It is stylistically adventurous (and heterogeneous) and, in part, points to some directions Naruse did not follow in his later films (even his next surviving silent ones).

And both No Blood Relation (stupid-sounding -- but sort of correct litterally --English title, The Stepmother would be less literal but more true to the spirit, I think) and Street Without End are quite good in their own right.

Just another (perhaps unneeded) reminder -- there never was a "silent film" era in Japan -- as these films were always accompanied not only by music but by narration (that not only read tthe titles, but provided descriptions and added all sorts of dialog beyond the titles -- all of which was scripted and censor-approved by the time Naruse was making films).


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 5:43 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2008 1:47 pm
This was unexpected. Risky, too. Naruse's probably one of the least-known "major" Japanese directors in the west and releasing him in an all-silent collection to boot sounds like playing with fire sales-wise.

Hopefully everyone here who's even remotely interested will pick it up.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 5:46 pm 
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I guess the Shimizu set must have sold well enough to encourage them to take another risk with early Japanese classics.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 10:26 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 09, 2004 1:55 am
I've only seen Naruse's late work. How do these films compare?


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 10:31 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm
I haven't seen these films, but Wife! Be like a Rose which he made immediately afterward may be my favorite Naruse. Story wise there are many familiar elements, but he's exploring his realm in ways different from what he would settle on. He's the same master he always was, but he had yet to do it all.


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