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Floating Weeds [Masters of Cinema] [UK] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Japanese LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/16-bit)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certification: PG
  • Run Time: 119 Mins.
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Studio: Eureka Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: December 3, 2012
  • RRP: £20.42

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

Legendary Japanese filmmaker Ozu Yasujirō’s films were always concerned with the interconnection between family across multiple generations, and also the changing social fabric of post-war Japan. In keeping with those themes, 1959’s Floating Weeds (浮草; Ukigusa), a remake of his earlier 1925 silent film, covers the same ground, but with the maturity of master who has now honed his craft. It subtlety and visual grace, often using contemplative cuts to something as simple as flowers bending in the breeze, help carry the film forward while offering a moment to step back from a potentially melodramatic story, elevating and keeping it grounded. His techniques remained generally simple throughout his career, long, single shots, no quick edits, staying in single rooms. They all impart a sense of meditative ease and daily routine that is taken to new heights in this film, making it feel all the more believable.

Floating Weeds focuses on a traveling kabuki troupe (known as “floating weeds” or “ukigusa” in Japanese) as they bring their show to a seaside port during one blisteringly hot summer. Late middle-aged actor Komajurô (Nakamura Ganjirô) goes to seek out his former lover, sake bar owner Oyoshi (Sugimura Haruki), and his grown, illegitimate son Kiyoshi (Kawaguchi Hiroshi), whom he has refused to take responsibility for. Kiyoshi has known Komajurô only has his uncle over the years. The disapproval of his troupe-mate and current mistress Sumiko (Kyô Machiko) leads to problems when she discovers Komajurô’s secret and schemes to have a fellow actress seduce Kiyoshi in order to corrupt the young man and get back at Komajurô. Komajurô is now left with a hard choice – keep his secret or reveal himself to save his son.

Ozu’s deft handling of the intricacies of the relationships is truly astounding in Floating Weeds, no doubt helped along by Nakamura’s brilliant reading of the role. The visual aesthetic also plays a major role in this slowly building drama. The lazy river, the rain-soaked confrontations, and ragged, fanning kabuki troupe all create the wonderful backdrop of the workday problems that cut across the lines of age and gender to create a perfect whole. When we finally get to the the tender ending between Komajurô and Sumiko when they finally reach a moment of realization and acceptance again, it all feels just perfect.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

A beautifully clean and natural looking transfer of Floating Weeds is offered in an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement by Eureka’s Masters of Cinema series. The color palette, though not exactly bold, is natural and nicely saturated. There are crisp details, a thin layer of grain and a decent amount of contrast offering very extended shadow detail.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The original mono track is provided in Japanese LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit). It’s surprisingly clean, with only the slightest hints of crackle and sibilant distortions from the source and recording equipment of the day.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

The disc is barebones, but the booklet offers a very interesting read, including Ozu’s diary on the film.

  • Theatrical Trailer (1.37:1; 1080p/24)
  • Booklet: 36-page booklet featuring a lengthy new essay on the film and Ozu by critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky; new translations of excerpts from Ozu’s 1959 diaries; and rare archival imagery.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

A quiet and tender masterpiece, Floating Weeds may just be the best of Ozu’s works, and I say that without hesitation. The masterful camerawork, beautiful color cinematography, and moving performances from the actors all make this a work that can be watched multiple times and offer up something new on each viewing.

Additional Screen Captures

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[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B008LUICGA[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]



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