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The Insect Woman/Nishi Ginza Station [Masters of Cinema][UK] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono (48kHz/24-bit) (Insect Woman); (48Khz/16-bit) (Nishi-Ginza Station)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certification: 15
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Studio: Eureka Entertainment
  • Run Time: 123 Mins./52 Mins.
  • Blu-ray Release Date: February 20, 2012
  • RRP: £25.52

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005SDDDTO[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
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]

Imamura Shôhei’s (Pigs and Battleships) film The Insect Woman (Nippon konchûki,にっぽん昆虫記) begins with the odd image of an insect crawling around on a mound of ash, trapped inside an ashtray. Like this opening image, the film’s protagonist, Tome (Hidari Sachiko, who won “Best Actress” at the Berlin film festival for the role), will be caught in an endless cycle of fate that will ultimately lead to her downfall.

The film spans the lifetime of Tome from her humble, bastard birth in 1918 and skips quickly through the war years of the 1940s, covering her incestuous relationship with her hopeless father, and her doomed bartering to the family’s landlord as a wife for his third son, and her eventual pregnancy out of wedlock, until finally she leaves her rural village, making for Tokyo. Throughout, what is apparent in this story of the beautiful and naïve Tome, is that no mater how difficult she tries to break free from her past, it always pulls her back, and she seems destined to make the same mistakes that her mother and mother’s mother before her made, before, finally, she passes the same cruel destiny down to her child.

Shôhei’s film is, in a rather unique manner, told through a series of vignettes, with almost kabuki-like interludes by Tome as each new chapter in her arduous life begins. Rife with sexuality, despair, and raw human emotion, Shôhei’s The Insect Woman is proof that even a so-called B-movie can surpass the A-list dreck that passes for quality cinema.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The Insect Woman‘s AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodement, framed in its original 2.35:1 ratio looks very good, but not great in this Masters of Cinema release. Yes, it does retain much of its film-like qualities without any issues of video noise cropping up, but contrast is a bit narrow overall, with the image having a somewhat washed out appearance at times. Source damage is present throughout, but not sufficient enough to become overwhelmingly distracting.

Nishi Ginza Station looks even worse, with obvious blotches, tramlines, and a faded overall look with soft detail. What’s even more peculiar is, it has been encoded onto disc in an odd resolution of 1440×1080. This caused some issues during screen captures that had to be rectified by adjusting the aspect ratio.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

On the audio front, The Insect Woman is supplied with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack and Nishi Ginza Station with DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono (48kHz/16-bit). The former sounds slightly cleaner than the latter, but neither one is very full or clean. Each has a bit of clipping and scratchiness in the dialogue, both from the equipment of the day and the age of the source.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

The real supplemental gold mine for this Master of Cinema release is the lengthy booklet that offers two essays on both films by Tony Rayns. For those interested, Imamura Shôhei’s second film, the brief, fifty-minute-long Nishi Ginza Station (Nishi-Ginza Eki-Mae/西銀座駅前) is also included on the disc.

  • Nishi Ginza Station (2.35:1; 1080p/24; Japanese LPCM 1.0 (48kHz/16-bit) – Shôhei’s second film is a flighty comedy, intended to promote its title song, about marital bliss that is set in Japan’s Nishi Ginza subway station. Beyond that, there isn’t much depth to this very much B-grade film. It’s all surface.
  • Imamura Interview (1.33:1; upscaled-HD; 00:20:53)
  • Booklet: Two essays by Tony Rayns, production stills, and film credits.
  • DVD — Standard DVD is included in the Dual Format edition.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

The Insect Woman and Nishi Ginza Station is another solid package of Asian Cinema classic from Eureka’s Masters of Cinema line. Both films have their merits, but it is The Insect Woman that is the real feature here with its daring sensuality and frank discussion of class that lingers on the ind long after it has completed. Recommended.

Additional Screen Captures

Nishi Ginza Station:


[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B005SDDDTO[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

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

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