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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Still Walking aka Aruitemo aruitemo [Blu-ray]

 

(Hirokazu Koreeda, 2008)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: IFC Films

Video: Criterion - spine # 554

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:54:54.929

Disc Size: 48,136,357,808 bytes

Feature Size: 33,590,679,552 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 20

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: February 8th, 2011

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio Japanese 2033 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2033 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English, none

 

Extras:

• New video interviews with Kore-eda (25:06 in 1080P) and Yamazaki (13:14 in 1080P)
• Documentary on the making of the film, featuring on-set footage (28:32 in 1080i)
• Trailer (2:00 in 1080P)
• 22-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film critic Dennis Lim and recipes for the food prepared in the film

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: The lyrical, profoundly moving Still Walking (Aruitemo aruitemo) is contemporary Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-eda’s most personal work to date. Created as a tribute to his late mother, the film depicts one day in the life of the Yokoyamas, gathered together for a commemorative ritual whose nature only gradually becomes clear. Rather than focus on big dramatic moments, Kore-eda relies on simple gestures and domestic routines (especially cooking) to evoke a family’s entire life, its deep regrets and its daily joys. Featuring vivid, heartrending performances and a gentle naturalism that harks back to the director’s earlier, documentary work, Still Walking is an extraordinary portrayal of the ties that bind us.

 

 

The Film:

The elliptical story finds its match in the film’s understated visual style. The compositions are harmoniously balanced, the family often centered against the geometric patterns created by the shoji screens and open doorways. For the most part the camera moves around the house with the characters, though at times Mr. Kore-eda pauses on a domestic still life, lingering over a vase on a table or the tidied-up, finally quiet kitchen. He seems to catch beauty on the fly, as when the three grandchildren, having gone for a walk, reach for some overhanging flowers, their fluttering fingers straining upward. There’s joy in this moment even if these three are also echoes of three other children: Ryota, Chinami and their lost brother.

Against his better judgment, Ryota and his family stay the night. (Chinami, meanwhile, packs up her brood and drives away, fretting over the future.) As Ryota, Mr. Abe, a tall man who often has to duck to avoid smacking his head on entryways, has to play the part of the malcontent. He fills out the role fine, though the character’s sourness and dark looks grow somewhat wearisome. Yet Ryota’s unhappiness is as crucial to the family’s dynamic as his father’s glowering and his mother’s efficient, defensive bustling. This is life as it’s lived, not dreamed. And this is a family bound not only by sorrow, but also by a shared history that emerges in 114 calibrated minutes and ends with a wallop.

Excerpt from Manohla Dargis at the NY Times located HERE

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

Many of Kore-eda's socially based dramas have a flat, simple, almost bleached pale appearance (see our reviews of Maborosi, After Life and Nobody Knows - even Air Doll also has this look). Never having had the opportunity to see any of his films theatrically it seems the less polished visuals are intended and, indeed Criterion has this endorsement; "New high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Hirokazu Kore-eda and director of photography Yutaka Yamazaki".  Using Arriflex Cameras and limited lighting it was never meant to appear glossy or razor-sharp and the Blu-ray transfer supports that. There is some visible noise but this isn't apparent in the outdoor cinematography that is, predictably, much brighter. There is a bit of depth in some sequences but overall the appearance - via dual-layered disc with a very high bitrate - is akin to the screen captures below. The lighter contrast is consistent through the indoor scenes of the film and it lends an unusual degree of poignant realism. I have no reason not to accept that this 1080P transfer is not an authentic representation of the film's intended visual appearance. It gave me a wonderful presentation.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Like the video - 'simple' audio in the form of a DTS-HD Master 2.0 stereo in original Japanese at 2033 kbps. I had no issue with the less-dynamic lossless rendering. Still Walking's vérité makes it devoid of any notable effect sounds. The track is as passive as the narrative style and it supports the film as perfectly as necessary. The original score is credited to Gonchichi and a song - "Blue Light Yokohama" performed by Ayumi Ishida that sound traditional and underplayed never eclipsing the subtle images. There isn't an overwhelming about of dialogue either but there are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked disc.

 

Extras :

Extras consist of two interviews shot by Yamazaki - first with Kore-eda for about 25-minutes in Japanese with English subtitles (as are all supplements) and Yamazaki for a dozen minutes shot in August 2010 at the International House of Japan in Tokyo. There is some good information imparted about production and styles. There is also a half-hour documentary on the making of the film, featuring on-set footage and director Kore-eda and his actors and crew working as they create Still Walking's all-encompassing realism - whether by attending to the costumes and lighting or making sure the cooking is just like that of Kore-eda's mother. There is a 2-minute trailer and a 22-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film critic Dennis Lim and recipes for the food prepared in the film.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
It wouldn't be a stretch to refer to Still Walking as a masterpiece. As I watched it I kept making notes and specific times to write 'brilliant shot...' in preparation for obtaining the screen captures - and soon my notepad was full. The Blu-ray obviously won't be used for demo purposes but you are always aware this is HD. Still Walking is such a beautiful film. Kore-eda is an amazing director who can establish so much, and speak volumes with his style. A few times I was reminded of Ozu - a fitting compliment. We give our strongest recommendation. 

Gary Tooze

January 28th, 2011

 

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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