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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Yi Yi" or Yan Yan - Natsu no omoide" or "Yi yi: A One and a Two...")

directed by Edward Yang
Taiwan 2000

With the runaway international acclaim of this film, Taiwanese director Edward Yang could no longer be called Asian cinema’s best-kept secret. Yi Yi swiftly follows a middle-class family in Taipei over the course of one year, beginning with a wedding and ending with a funeral. Whether chronicling middle-aged father NJ’s tenuous flirtations with an old flame or precocious young son Yang-Yang’s attempts at capturing reality with his beloved camera, Yang imbues every gorgeous frame with a deft, humane clarity. Warm, sprawling, and dazzling, this intimate epic is one of the undisputed masterworks of the new century.

***

Each member of a family in Taipei asks hard questions about life's meaning as they live through every-day quandaries. NJ is morose; his brother owes him money, his mother is in a coma, his wife suffers a spiritual crisis when she finds her life a blank, his business partners make bad decisions against his advice, and he reconnects with his first love 30 years after he dropped her. His teenage daughter Ting-Ting watches emotions roil in their neighbors' flat and is experiencing the first stirrings of love. His son Yang-Yang, eight, laconic like his dad, pursues truth with the help of a camera. "Why is the world so different from what we think it is?," asks Ting-Ting.


Posters

Theatrical Release: May 14th, 2000 - Cannes Film Festival - France

Reviews         More Reviews         DVD Reviews

Comparison:

Winstar (Fox/Lorber) - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Starmax - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

1) Winstar - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Criterion - Region 1- NTSC SECOND

3) Starmax - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Covers

 

Distribution

Winstar Video

Region 0  - NTSC

Criterion Collection - Spine # 339
Region 1 - NTSC
Starmax (Korea)
Region 0 - NTSC
Criterion Collection - Spine # 339
Region 'A' -
Blu-ray
Runtime 2:52:54 2:53:12 2:53:00 2:53:33.027
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.84 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.36
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.80
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

Disc Size: 46,287,278,140 bytes

Feature Size: 42,924,244,992 bytes

Average Bitrate: 28.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Winstar

 

Bitrate:

 

Criterion

 

Bitrate:

 

Starmax

 

Bitrate:

 

Blu-ray

 

Audio Hokkien, Mandarin and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
Audio Commentary (English) Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Hokkien, Mandarin and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
Audio Commentary (English) Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround

DTS-HD Master Audio Chinese 2062 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2062 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps /
24-bit)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
Subtitles English, and none English and none English, Korean and none English and none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Fox Lorber

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1


Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by writer/director Edward Yang
• Anamorphic widescreen Theatrical Trailer (1:52)
• Filmographies: Wu Nien-Jen, Elaine Jin, Edward Yang
• Production Credits
• Weblinks

DVD Release Date:  May 8th, 2001
Keep Case

Chapters 24

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1


Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by writer-director Edward Yang and noted Asian-cinema critic Tony Rayns
• "Everyday Realities" - video interview with Rayns about Yang and the New Taiwan Cinema movement (15:15)
• U.S. theatrical trailer
• Liner notes new essay by Kent Jones and notes from the director

DVD Release Date
: July 11th, 2006
Keep Case

Chapters 36

Release Information:
Studio: Starmax (Korea)

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1


Edition Details:
• 3 Trailers
• About The Film
• Cast & Filmmaker Information

DVD Release Date: April 1, 2002
Keep Case

Chapters 36

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

 

Disc Size: 46,287,278,140 bytes

Feature Size: 42,924,244,992 bytes

Average Bitrate: 28.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by writer-director Edward Yang and noted Asian-cinema critic Tony Rayns
• "Everyday Realities" - video interview with Rayns about Yang and the New Taiwan Cinema movement (15:19)
• U.S. theatrical trailer
• 20-page liner notes booklet with essay by Kent Jones and notes from the director

Blu-ray Release Date: March 15th, 2011
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 31

 

Comments: NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - February 2011: Not much to say  beyond the captures - the new 1080P transfer has the same contrast level of their 2006 DVD - it is marginally brighter - detail also advances and, overall, it looks very strong being dual-layered with a high video bitrate. It seems totally free of artefacts or noise. It is a muted, gentle appearance and makes the Starmax DVD definitely look unseemly harsh and boosted. Notable improvement over the previous Criterion DVD will depend on your discerning nature towards the visuals and how adept your system is at identifying the disparity. We run through this debate about the image quality affected viewing perception - and I definitely believe it is true. This, more pure, more film-like, Blu-ray presentation will bond closer to the individual and give the most impacting of all digital, home theater, viewings. There is no question as to that.

Audio is lossless - still 2.0 channel stereo and has no dropouts, hiss or flaws. The optional English subtitles are cleaner and 'less-bold' (see sample). The Blu-ray disc is, predictably, region 'A'-locked.

Extras duplicate the previous Criterion release - Tony Rayns fabulous commentary, the Everyday Reality video interview (now in 1080P), a U.S. trailer and 20-page liner notes booklet.   

This is such an amazing film experience and one we find easily to recommend via Blu-ray. In fact, I would consider this essential for most serious film fans. Buy with extreme confidence!

***

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 1- NTSC - June 06': Well, the Criterion is significantly darker. On the Criterion website it states:

"...struck from the original camera negative. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, and scratches were removed using the MTI Digital Restoration System. To maintain optimal image quality through the compression process, the picture on this dual-layer DVD-9 was encoded at the highest-possible bit rate for the quantity of material included."

These statements gives speculation as to the quality of the source print. The Criterion bitrate is uncharacteristically low. I guess we are meant to assume the existing print was this dark? I honestly don't know - even zooming in extensively on the Starmax image I only see very minor signs of contrast boosting - if it is there at all. So it's hard to know what to think. Has the Criterion been darkened to hide softness or print limitations? or is the original color palette that muted? Fortunately, it is something you get used to very quickly while watching the Criterion and as long as it is consistent (which it is) - there really is no problem while viewing. Colors are not as bright as in the other 2 editions but detail is definitely superior. The Criterion image is much smoother and far cleaner with less of the visible digital noise and dirt on the Starmax.

If the Starmax has had some equalized brightening it might explain the color discrepancies (see the wall in the hospital - behind the bed). I honestly throw my hands up as not being 100% positive either way - I suspect it is probably a little of both - boosting on the non-Criterions and dampening on the Criterion transfer. Regardless you won't find the Criterion Yi Yi too dark and if you do you can increase the brightness on your system (you won't need to). Audio is quite strong with a few brief moments of weakness. 

The Criterion appears to have a little more information on the right and left edges - especially left.

The optional English subtitle translation is by Edward Yang and Tony Rayns. I can only assume that it is the most accurate of the three editions.

The commentary, by Yang and Rayns, is very good. It is the same as the one on the Region 2 UK (ICA) PAL DVD (not shown here). In the past we have recognized Tony Rayns as giving the best commentaries in all of DVD-dom. On this the two talk of everything from color significance in the film to suggested references on the television shows played in the background. There are quite a few gaps but Rayns does a good job of identifying the narrative structure of Yi Yi while Yang often supports his conclusions or expands upon them. Yang's English is excellent and the two work quite well together - although this is not as in-depth as a typical Rayns-solo commentary. It, like the film, is more relaxed and the less-probing comments are still highly educational.

If the 15 minute featurette Everyday Realities Rayns explains the historical background of Taiwan - both in regards to modern cinema and socially and economically. He discusses censorship and the brief collaborations of Hou, Yang and others remarking that Yi Yi has still not been seen in Taiwan except via bootleg DVDs. It ends with the statement that the Taiwan film business is essentially dead.

Bottom line: The Criterion DVD looked exceptional on my system (42' plasma with total darkness) and it may be somewhat unfair to compare it directly to the other two DVDs with an expectation of that level of brightness. What this review hopefully does is prepare those who are intending to purchase -> as they can expect a much darker and muted transfer than they may have seen in the past. The extras are at Criterions usual excellent level.

NOTE: With regards to the darkness of the Criterion transfer, I can assure you that the Taiwanese print I watched at the Singapore International Film Festival in 2001 (or was it 2000) was just as dark. (Thanks Veen!)

***

Lets not mince words here - The Fox / Lorber image is a joke. Cropped on left and bottom edges, manipulated colors and very hazy. From Markus' comparison at ChairoScuro HERE :

"Starmax R0 offers by far the best transfer, it seems to be the only one of the three tested that was made from a digital master source. Less clipping on both top and bottom of the grayscale, much more natural detail, sharper (although there is visible edge enhancement), more natural colors" 

The Fox Lorber has a commentary by Yang and is richer in the Extras department as the Starmax has only 3 trailers to speak of. The Fox uses those awful yellow subs which are quite distracting. There are other version of this fine film out there, but so far I believe the Starmax, with its good film grain and slight Edge enhancement, is the definitive edition until Criterion puts theirs out in 2006.

 - Gary W. Tooze


Recommended Reading in Chinese/Hong Kong/Taiwanese Cinema (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

Check out more in "The Library"


 



DVD Menus

 

(Criterion - Region 1- NTSC)

 



(Winstar - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Starmax - Region 0 - NTSC - RIGHT)


 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Winstar - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1- NTSC SECOND

3) Starmax - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM



Screen Captures

 

1) Winstar - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1- NTSC SECOND

3) Starmax - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM


1) Winstar - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1- NTSC SECOND

3) Starmax - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Winstar - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1- NTSC SECOND

3) Starmax - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Winstar - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1- NTSC SECOND

3) Starmax - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Winstar - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1- NTSC SECOND

3) Starmax - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Winstar - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 1- NTSC SECOND

3) Starmax - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Hit Counter


Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Criterion DVD + Blu-ray

 

DVD Box Covers

 

Distribution

Winstar Video

Region 0  - NTSC

Criterion Collection - Spine # 339
Region 1 - NTSC
Starmax (Korea)
Region 0 - NTSC
Criterion Collection - Spine # 339
Region 'A' -
Blu-ray




 

 

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Gary Tooze