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June 16, 2009


DVD of the Week – “Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu” Box Set


Today’s DVD pick is a box set of four films directed by Hiroshi Shimizu and released by Criterion under its Eclipse label. The Criterion website describes Shimizu as one of the most respected and today, least well known of the Japanese directors who made names for themselves in the 1930s, the heyday of the studio system. Attesting to the accuracy of the second half of that description, I had not heard of Shimizu until recently and I have yet to see any of his films. What I have read of his work, especially David Bordwell’s lengthy blog post about this set, makes me anxious to change that.

The earliest film in the set is silent drama Japanese Girls at the Harbor (1933). It includes two other films from the 1930s, dramas Mr. Thank You (1936) and The Masseurs and a Woman (1938). Wartime romance Ornamental Hairpin (1941) completes the set. Japanese Girls at the Harbor has a new score written and composed by Donald Sosin. The Eclipse Series trades the copious extras of The Criterion Collection releases for a lower price tag, but there is a collection of short reviews of the films in the set by Michael Koresky in Criterion’s associated web journal “Currents.” This page in the journal includes a link to Dave Kehr’s post on the set in his weekly DVD column for the New York Times.

New releases this week: Friday the 13th (available in two versions: the theatrical release and an “extended killer cut”), Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nir Shalev
    Jun 19 2009

    Awesome. It’s nice to remember Shimizu.

    I got the Early Ozu boxset from Criterion/Eclipse and was wondering whether you’re going to review that one someday.

  2. Helen
    Jun 19 2009

    You mean the silent Ozu box set? That’s a good suggestion for a future DVD pick, especially as I have the advantage of having actually seen two of the three films in that collection in revival screenings (Tokyo Chorus and I Was Born, But…) and can heartily recommend them.

  3. Rob P
    Aug 31 2009

    I watched Ornamental Hairpin this weekend. It was the first pre-VJ-day Japanese film I’d seen, and I was very impressed with it.

  4. Helen
    Aug 31 2009

    Thanks for the recommendation! I really need to see these movies… I especially like the description for that one.

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