(aka 'Tky sonata')

Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Japan  200
8

 

Best known in the United States for bizarre and unsettling horror films like PULSE and CURE, Kiyoshi Kurosawa ventures away from that category with TOKYO SONATA. Of course, Kurosawa is incapable of directing a straightforward picture, and TOKYO SONATA is no exception. Retaining the same masterful control over mood and atmosphere that he has displayed throughout his career, Kurosawa infuses this family drama with an underlying tension that permeates the film even during its most humorous moments.


The story concerns a Japanese businessman, husband, and father of two, who unexpectedly loses his job. Unable to break the news to his devoted wife, he dresses up every morning and pretends to go to work, instead wasting the days away with a former classmate who is also unemployed. Although they aren't aware of his contradictory behaviour, his family begins to disobey him nonetheless. His teenage son enlists in the Army in order to fight for the United States, while his adolescent son goes behind his back to take piano lessons. The longer his charade goes on, the less control he has as patriarch, creating an even deeper divide between him and his family.
With TOKYO SONATA, Kurosawa has produced one of his most original and accomplished works. Equal parts social commentary and situational comedy, Kurosawa's film also feels like a thriller, thanks to the exceptionally atmospheric work from cinematographer Akiko Ashizawa and composer Kazumasa Hashimoto.

Product Description:
The latest film from Kiyoshi Kurosawa the hugely acclaimed Japanese director famous for his groundbreaking, existential horror films such as Cure and Kairo [Pulse] set Cannes alight this year with a surprising change of pace to, that staple of Japanese cinema, the family drama. When Ryuhei Sasaki (played by Teruyuki Kagawa) is unceremoniously dumped from his safe company job, his family's happy, humdrum life is put at risk. Unwilling to accept the shame of unemployment, the loyal salaryman decides not to tell anyone, instead leaving home each morning in suit and tie with briefcase, spending his days searching for work and lining up for soup with the homeless. Outstanding performances; serene, elegant direction; and Kurosawa's trademark chills are evident as he ratchets up the unsettling atmosphere and the grim hopelessness of Sasaki's unemployment. In today s economically uncertain times, this highly topical film an eerie, poignant reflection on the mass uncertainty sweeping the world is widely regarded as Kurosawa s finest achievement and was the only Japanese film to receive an award at the Cannes Film Festival 2008 (Jury Prize winner of Un Certain Regard).

Posters

Theatrical Release: May 17th, 2008 - Cannes Film Festival

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DVD Comparison:

Eureka - Masters of Cinema (2-disc) - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Eureka - Masters of Cinema (2-disc) - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Eureka - Masters of Cinema (2-disc) - Region 0 - NTSC - Spine #81 Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray - Spine #3
Runtime 2:00:12  1:59:57.041
Video 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.2 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 40,764,196,048 bytes

Feature: 33,036,048,384 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:  DVD

Bitrate:  Blu-ray

Audio Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0) DTS-HD Master Audio Japanese 1738 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1738 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby TrueHD Audio
Japanese 570 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 570 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio
Japanese 640 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio:
Eureka - Masters of Cinema

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• Making of Documentary – (1:00:32)
• Q&A, Tokyo, September 2008 – (12:13)
• Premiere, Tokyo, September 2008 (15:09)
• DVD Discussion - (8:31)
• UK Trailer – (2:12)
• Booklet - 24-page booklet with director’s statement, essay by B. Kite. Notes on Viewing, Disc Credits

DVD Release Date: June 22nd, 2009

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 17

Release Information:
Studio: Eureka - Masters of Cinema

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 40,764,196,048 bytes

Feature: 33,036,048,384 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Making of Documentary – (1:00:38)
• Q&A, Tokyo, September 2008 – (12:14)
• Premiere, Tokyo, September 2008 (15:10)
• DVD Discussion - (8:31)
• UK Trailer – (2:12 in HD!)
• Booklet - 28-page booklet with director’s statement, essay by B. Kite. Notes on Viewing, Disc Credits

Blu-ray Release Date: June 22nd, 2009
Standard
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 17

 

Comments:

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

Both packages share Masters of Cinema's meticulous dedication to detail in presenting us with this marvelous, multiple award-winning, film from Kiyoshi Kurosawa. The DVD image probably looks about as strong as SD can produce on that medium, but the 1080P eclipses it in all visual areas. Notably colors - especially reds - seem brighter and share a better balance on the Blu-ray while skin tones lose there yellow hue. Detail advances a fair notch - readily visible in close-ups. The frame carries no significant amount of additional information. Contrast is strong (brighter whites, richer black levels) and the hi-def image gives some occasional dimensionality. There are some very minor artifacts on a few scenes of the DVD that the glossless Blu-ray doesn't share. I can't really say much more than the screen caps will identify - both editions are impressive in their own right and support the film to the best of their capabilities but, obviously, the Blu-ray and its, more than triple, bitrate dignify Tokyo Sonata to a higher visual ideal in your home theater.

 

Where the DVD offers 1 audio stream - an original Japanese 2.0 channel at 256 Kbps - the Blu-ray gives 3 healthy 2.0 channel options which include both a TrueHD and DTS-HD Master. I chose the DTS for most of my viewing but when I did some tests, after comparing against the TrueHD, I couldn't easily identify differences although the former track may have been more buoyant with the infrequent background music exporting some tonal subtlety. The film wouldn't benefit from a dense, aggressive surround option and the 2.0 channel dialogue was clear and clean enough to adequately support the drama. Both discs offer optional English subtitles in a clear, non-intrusive, white font - and both are region free as identified by my Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player.

Extras are duplicated in both packages with the only difference that I could ascertain is that the Blu-ray's theatrical trailer is in HD and that booklet is 28-page as opposed to 24 - although it holds all the same material. And, of course, the DVD has a second disc to hold the extras where the Blu-ray is able to house them all, and the feature, on one disc.

First off is a, sometimes plodding, hour-long Making Of... with input from some of the cast and crew including director Kurosawa. Like all the digital supplements it is in Japanese with optional English subtitles. There is a 12-minute Q&A filmed in Tokyo, September 2008 prior to a screening where some, non-spoiler, general information is put forth. At the premiere, Kurosawa introduces the film and cast with some glad-handing and cast microphone participation lasting about 15-minutes. There is an 8.5 minutes DVD Discussion involves Kurosawa, Kyko Koizumi and Teruyuki Kagawa. I found this kind of interesting although I wasn't always cognoscente of the points being made. Questions are posed like "Which scenes do you like watching again?" Finally we also get the British trailer and the booklet with essay by B. Kite.

I don't think you could ask too much more. Both packages are complete. The Blu-ray is running at about 3 more but I feel the transfer, both audio and video, are certainly worth at least that in creating a slightly more intimate and visually appealing viewing experience. Either way - it's a great film - my favorite, so far, by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. He's a director who certainly know how to keep you interested. This film, in either format, is strongly recommended!    

Gary W. Tooze

 



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

 

Subtitle Sample - NOTE: Can't get subtitle sample for Blu-ray yet!

 

Eureka - Masters of Cinema (2-disc) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

Eureka - Masters of Cinema (2-disc) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


Eureka - Masters of Cinema (2-disc) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


Eureka - Masters of Cinema (2-disc) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


Eureka - Masters of Cinema (2-disc) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 


Eureka - Masters of Cinema (2-disc) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 


Eureka - Masters of Cinema (2-disc) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 


Eureka - Masters of Cinema (2-disc) - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Eureka - Masters of Cinema (2-disc) - Region 0 - NTSC Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Region FREE - Blu-ray




 

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