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Sweet Bean aka "An" [Blu-ray]
(Naomi Kawase, 2015)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Comme des Cinémas
Video: Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Spine #153
Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 44,589,844,517 bytes
Feature Size: 36,633,086,400 bytes
Video Bitrate: 35.08 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: August 22nd, 2016
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio Japanese 3594 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3594 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio Japanese 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
English (SDH), none
• A new, exclusive video interview with Naomi Kawase (35:28)
Description:One of the most acclaimed figures in modern Japanese cinema, Naomi Kawase followed up her remarkable 2014 film Still the Water with Sweet Bean [An], a small-town drama of culinary redemption, which opened the prestigious Un Certain Regard strain of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
Struggling street food vendor Sentaro finds himself confronted with Tokue (Kirin Kiki), an odd but sympathetic elderly lady looking for work. When he reluctantly accepts, it's not long before Tokue proves to have an extraordinary gift when it comes to making "an" - the sweet red bean paste filling used in his dorayakis - which starts a relationship that is about much more than just street food.
With Sweet Bean, Kawase again focuses on people at the periphery of Japanese society and investigates their place in the flow of life itself. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present the film for the first time in the UK.
Writer-director Naomi Kawase, adapting Durian Sukegawa's novel
"An" — the Japanese word for the red bean paste that's sandwiched between small
pancakes to make dorayaki — is an unapologetically heart-tugging film. But its
sentimentality is tempered by the elegant restraint of the fine lead
Mr. Nagase plays Sentaro, the laconic, haunted-looking proprietor of a
stall from which he sells the Japanese confection dorayaki. Early in the
film, as cherry blossom trees flower outside his place, we see him
preparing batter, frying it up and putting dollops of red bean paste
between two little pancakes. He’s devoted to his work, but something’s
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Sweet Bean looks clean and efficient on Blu-ray from The Masters of Cinema group in the UK. The image quality authentically reflects the Arriflex Cameras production via the dual-layered transfer with a max'ed out bitrate. It shows no gloss or imperfections of any kind - pristinely clean, realistic colors and probably precisely accurate to the theatrical presentation. The aspect ratio is 2.39:1 and rendered in 1080P.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The audio is transferred in the option of a robust DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround or a linear PCM 2.0 channel track - both 24-bit. There are no aggressive scenes nor heavy requirements for adroit separation (a few noted). The film's music is by David Hadjadj and it all sounds precise, clean and gentle. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.
Masters of Cinema provide a new, exclusive, 35-minute video interview with director/writer Naomi Kawase about the production. There is also a theatrical trailer and the package has another extensive MoC booklet with a 32-page booklet featuring a new essay on the film by critic Philip Kemp; an interview and statement from Kawase, and production images. The dual format disc has a DVD included.
August 20th, 2016
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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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