Still Walking (Aruitemo aruitemo) (Directors Suite) (2008)

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Released 6-Apr-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Four Directors Suite trailers
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 109:50 (Case: 114)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (66:26) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Hirokazu Koreeda
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Hiroshi Abe
Yui Natsukawa
You
Kazuya Takahashi
Shohei Tanaka
Kirin Kiki
Yoshio Harada
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Gonchichi


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Alternate Subtitles
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    After watching Still Walking (Aruitemo aruitemo) one can be forgiven for thinking that they have just witnessed a new movie by the famous Japanese director, Yasujiro Ozu. Of course, this would be impossible as Ozu passed away in 1963, but the theme and cinematic style of Hirokazu Kore-eda's Still Walking is certainly reminiscent of Ozu's familiar method. Hirokazu Kore-eda even wrote and edited the film, like Yasujiro Ozu did on his films. Also, like Ozu, Still Walking deals with the generational gap between members in a family and the differences in how older and younger people deal with change.

    Yoshio Harada plays Kyohei Yokoyama, a retired doctor, forced to cease his work due to cataracts effecting his vision. Kirin Kiki plays Toshiko Yokoyama, his wife, who puts up with his petty behaviour and idiosyncrasies, such as walking every day near his home along the same route and refusing to carry a shopping bag on these trips so that he doesn't compromise on his social reputation among his neighbours. He even prefers to be still called 'Doctor'. Hiroshi Abe plays Ryota Yokoyama, the second son of the family who has proved to be a major disappointment to his family, firstly for not taking over his father's medical practice and secondly for marrying a widow with a child who is not his own. His work as an art restorer is denigrated by his father. Ryota tells his wife Yukari (Yui Natsukawa) on the trip to meet his parents that they shouldn't have agreed to stay overnight. Yukari, who has not met her father-in-law and mother-in-law is taken aback by this statement, she can't understand why her husband feels that way, until she senses the same rejection from her in-laws for herself and her son.

    The source of this rejection of the modern idea of family (i.e. that Ryoto can marry a widow and have an instant family with his step-son included) is mainly due to the fact that Ryoto's older brother, Junpei died in attempting to save the life of a young boy 12 years ago at the local beach and he was always his father's favourite child as he was the heir to his family. The sadness and bitterness carried by this tragedy by Kyohei and Toshiko permeates the whole film, you fell genuine empathy for Ryoto's humiliation and embarrassment that he endures from listening to his parents reminisce during his stay with them.

    The film has been compared to Ozu's 1953 masterpiece, Tokyo Story. In that film an elderly couple decide to catch a train from their country house to visit their adult children in the city, who are too busy to spend quality time with them and instead arrange for their parents to visit and stay with other people they know. In Still Walking, the opposite is true. The adult children visit the country seaside town of their parents and stay with them for a weekend. After Ryoto's sister Chinami (played by Japanese actress You) suggests to her mother that she could possibly move in to their house with her husband and family, her mother scoffs at the idea, valuing her space and independence. Chinami's family subsequently leave on the Saturday night, the second half of the film deals with the awkward relations between Ryoto's family and his parents.

    The end of the film sees Kyohei finally visit the beach with his son after many years of bitterness and after failing to make a GP call to his neighbour who is taken to hospital by paramedics, who ignore Kyohei's questions when he asks about the condition of his neighbour. This incident, together with the annual visit of the young boy who Junpei saved, who is revealed to be a overweight and unambitious 25-year old young man with no future and who doesn't enjoy these annual visits, makes Kyohei realise that his son's actions were noble, despite the outcome of the life of the person he saved. Kyohei suggests that he should go to a soccer match with his grandson (i.e Ryoto's step-son) in the future, alas this doesn't happen. Both parents pass away with no change to the feuding in their relationship, although Ryoto is revealed by the end of the film to succeed in his dream of having his own child with his wife, and of having enough income to afford a car (at the beginning of the film Ryoto has to humiliatingly catch the train and bus to his parents place because he cannot afford a car).

    There are many stylistic comparisons evident in Still Walking to Ozu's style. Kore-eda sets the majority of the film in one location, the plot deals with inter-relations between different generations within a family, there are many shots of static objects such as trees, skies, power lines, factories and moving trains instead of traditional scene transitions. Characters move into and out of shots and locations are revisited during the film in differing contexts as the drama in the film builds (notice, for example how Kyohei walks upon his route at the beginning of the film by himself and again later with his son and grandson at the end of the film).

    Still Walking is rated G however the themes of the film are best suited for older audiences. The film has a very realistic and dramatic tone to it that deals with the ordinary pains and hurts that we all experience in our relationships within our families.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The cinematography includes many shots of nature, whether that is simply visuals of trees, sky, the beach or insects flying. Outdoor scenes include a strong emphasis on the colour green whereas the indoor scenes in the Yokoyama parental house emphasise yellows and are not lit as brightly as the outdoor scenes.

    The aspect ratio of Still Walking is 1:85:1, 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

    The main feature takes up 4.34 gb of space on a dual-layered DVD with an average bitrate of 5.39 m/b per sec. Overall, the video transfer is adequate, rendering colours well, but there is some low level noise due to the lower than average bitrate. This is only noticeable in darker scenes, which are not often.

    The contrast in colour between the natural scenes of the town and the scenes inside the Yokoyama house is no doubt intentional. Outdoor scenes are shot with vivid colours and brightness whereas the house scenes are much paler and not as bright, perhaps to convey the sense of loss felt by all the family of the death of their son and brother, Junpei.

    The video transfer is also free of film artefacts.

    The default subtitles are in yellow, but you may choose white subtitles to view the movie from the setup menu or 'on-the-fly' from your DVD remote. again, due to the lower than average bitrate of the film the subtitling has slight mosquito noise. This will be more evident on larger displays.

    The RSDL change occurs at 66:26 during a scene change, so it is not too noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Surprisingly for a film shot in 2008 the main soundtrack is encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0, not the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 which is far more common.

    The main soundtrack is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track encoded at 224 kbps. It is a stereo soundtrack however, not mono.

    Dialogue is clear and audio is synchronised throughout.

    The music by composer Gonchichi is serene and contemplative. The main theme is played on a classical guitar and is only seldom heard in the film. In fact it is not until the end credits that the main theme is heard with accompanying string quartet.

    Surround channel usage is limited to basic stereo effects from the two front speakers, with sound coming from the left or right speaker to indicate background noise and dialogue in the distance.

    The subwoofer is not utilised in this mainly dialogue-driven film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer (1:50)

    The original theatrical trailer is shown here in an aspect ratio of 1:85:1. It is not 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

Directors Suite Trailers

    Four trailers are included for Jean Renoir's The River, Early Summer by Yasujiro Ozu, Russian Ark by Aleksandr Sokurov and Ohayo - Good Morning by Yasujiro Ozu.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Still Walking has been released on DVD in Region 2 in Sweden and The Netherlands.

    The Dutch release includes a 30-minute 'making-of' documentary and a bonus disc of Hirokazu Kore-eda's 2006 film, Hana. The Swedish release includes a filmography as the only extra. Both releases use the same Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack used on the Region 4 release.

    Judging by extra features, the Dutch Region 2 release is best available version on DVD, but is not English friendly. An upcoming release in Region 1 by the Criterion Collection may be possible due to their recent distribution agreement with IFC films, if so, then that possible release would be replete with extras.

Summary

    Still Walking is a contemplative modern-day Japanese melodrama about the intricacies of a family dealing with the loss of a family member. It is wonderfully shot, comparable in style to Japanese master director, Yasujiro Ozu's works.

    The Region 4 Madman Directors Suite label release has an acceptable video and audio transfer but sadly no quality extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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