It’s Tough Being a Man: The Complete Tora-san

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents It’s Tough Being a Man: The Complete Tora-san.

criterion logoFor more than twenty-five years, writer-director Yoji Yamada and iconic actor Kiyoshi Atsumi entertained Japanese audiences with the exploits of Torajiro Kuruma, better known as Tora-san, a boorish but kind-hearted street peddler unlucky in love.  In each of the forty-eight feature films released between 1969 and 1995, Japan’s loveable loser returned home to Shibamata to upset the lives of his aunt, uncle, and half-sister and ultimately find himself heartbroken over yet another failed infatuation.  This gently sentimental comic series, known domestically as It’s Tough Being a Man, was an iconic part of Japanese culture that combined a nostalgic vision of post-war community with an unusually unreserved protagonist and traced the fortunes of a country through four decades.  This deluxe set features all forty-eight Tora-san films, presenting many of the beloved classics for North American home-viewing for the first time.

Disc Features:

  • New digital restorations of all 48 films, with uncompressed monaural and stereo soundtracks on the Blu-rays
  • Audio commentary by Japanese film scholar Stuart Galbraith IV for the first Tora-san film, It’s Tough Being a Man
  • Atsumi Kiyoshi no Tora-san kinzoku 25 nen, a 1995 documentary on Kiyoshi Atsumi, along with a new interview with director Yoji Yamada and actress Chieko Baisho
  • Tora-san’s Japan, an interactive map tracing Tora-san’s travels across Japan throughout the films
  • Tora-san’s Shibamata, a guided tour of Shibamata with journalist Jake Adelstein
  • Orangina commercials starring Richard Gere as Tora-san, with behind the scenes footage
  • Trailers
  • PLUS: A book featuring essays by Japanese film scholars Stuart Galbraith IV, Kevin Thomas, Alexander Jacoby, Michael Jeck, Donald Richie, Dave Kehr and a message from director Yoji Yamada

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Underground (Emir Kusturica, 1995)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Underground.

criterion logoEmir Kusturica’s epic masterpiece recounts the demise of his native Yugoslavia through the metaphorical relationship of Blacky and Marko over fifty years.  The pair booze and brawl their way through World War II, enhancing their reputations as communist guerrilla fighters and black marketeers until Marko tricks Blacky and others into hiding in his cellar where they manufacture weapons for twenty years under the false understanding that the war continues.  This raucous and tragicomic parable won Kusturica the Palme d’Or at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival and inspired a flurry of controversy that resulted in the filmmaker’s temporary retirement from the cinema.  Included here is Kusturica’s stunning, savage, and hilarious theatrical release and his five-hour television version, Once Upon a Time There Was a Country.

Disc Features:

  • New 4K digital restoration of the theatrical version, approved by director Emir Kusturica, with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Once Upon a Time There Was a Country, the 5-hour mini-series cut of Underground for Serbian television
  • New interview with Kusturica on his influences, the film, its reception, and its legacy
  • Journalist Tommaso Di Francesco on Underground
  • Shooting Days: Emir Kusturica Directs Underground, Aleksandar Manic’s 73-minute documentary on the making of Underground
  • Underground at Cannes, footage from the post-screening party at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival
  • Guernica, Kusturica’s 1978 short film
  • Interviews with cast and crew
  • Behind the scenes footage
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar Sean Homer and production photos

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Criterion Made Mine! The Safe Edition

CC SafeIt might be a day late, but Criterion’s December titles have been announced and Todd Haynes’s Safe (1995) is on the slate.  This is a great announcement, as the Criterion Collection version seems to preserve the audio commentary of the previous DVD edition, as well as include new interviews and Haynes’s 1978 short film The Suicide.  Check out our post from last October for [Safe], which includes some great links to interviews with Haynes, discussions of the film, and a wonderful short video piece by Amber Jacobs and Catherine Grant.

I love writing Criterion Made Mine! posts.  Here’s hoping we get to do it more often!

The American Astronaut (Cory McAbee, 2001)

“Imagine a Laurel & Hardy skit directed by Salvador Dali.” – ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

“More original than almost anything you’ve seen this millennium.” – SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

“Now that’s entertainment!” – FILM THREAT

“Surprising and hilarious! May be the most wonderfully strange film experience you have this year.” – ELLE MAGAZINE

Drafthouse Films LogoSpace travel has become a dirty way of life dominated by derelicts, grease monkeys and hard-boiled interplanetary traders such as Samuel Curtis.  Written, directed and starring Cory McAbee of the legendary cult band The Billy Nayer Show, this sci-fi musical-western uses flinty black-and-white photography, Lo-Fi sets and the spirit of the final frontier.  We follow Curtis on his Homeric journey to provide the all-female planet of Venus with a suitable male, while pursued by the enigmatic killer, Professor Hess.  The film features music by The Billy Nayer Show and some of the most original rock ‘n’ roll scenes ever committed to film.

Also included are McAbee’s hour-long, genre-defying space western Stingray Sam, his 52-minute fantasy Crazy & Thief, and his award-winning short films Reno, The Ketchup and Mustard Man, The Man on the Moon, and Billy Nayer, collected together here for the first time and providing a comprehensive review of one of America’s most audacious independent filmmakers.

Special Features:

  • Live audio commentary with writer, director, and star Cory McAbee
  • Gallery of production stills, storyboards, graphic designs, and sidewalk drawings
  • Ceres walk test footage
  • Trailers
  • Stingray Sam, McAbee’s 2009 musical-comedy, sci-fi-western serial recounting Stingray Sam and the Quasar Kid’s mission to save a kidnapped girl, with behind the scenes extra footage
  • Crazy & Thief, McAbee’s 2012 fantasy about a seven year-old girl who takes her two year-old brother on a voyage through a world of homemade mythologies
  • Reno, a 2007 short starring McAbee as a singing cowboy bragging about his travels through Nevada
  • The Ketchup and Mustard Man, a stream of consciousness-narrated musical
  • The Man on the Moon, McAbee’s short film about a dejected husband exiled on the moon, shot on a Fisher Price Pixel Camera
  • Billy Nayer, an animated short film direct by and starring McAbee as a singing bar patron
  • 24-page booklet of photos, production stills and promotional materials, plus a new interview with Cory McAbee

“Hertz Donut” Edition – Package Includes:

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Fire Line (Hiromichi Takebe, 1961)

Eclipse LogoWritten by Teruo Ishii and director Hiromichi Takebe, Fire Line broke new ground for the Line series, leaving tales of underworld prostitution rings and focusing on the double dealings and triple crosses of rival gangs over 100 pistols sold by a shady black market arms dealer.  In this twisty tale of gangland betrayal, a young sharpshooter and his friend are enlisted by a gang to help steal the guns but are then betrayed and blamed for the heist by the gang’s leader.  The arms dealer, the sharpshooter, and the boss’s girlfriend concoct a plan to rob the gang and escape to South America, but members of the mob have other plans.  The bankruptcy of Shintoho studios marks Fire Line as a premature conclusion to the series and Takebe’s only directorial effort, but the film remains a canny and faithfully hardboiled approach to noir sensibilities.

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Sexy Line (Teruo Ishii, 1961)

Eclipse LogoWhen a young journalist is framed for the murder of his fiancé and discovers her secret life as a moonlighting prostitute, he finds unlikely assistance in a thrill-seeking female pickpocket intent on helping him clear his name and entertaining herself while doing so.  Their investigation reveals a secret organization of criminals and call girls serving the sexual demands of senior executives and other powerful Japanese figures.  Shot on city streets amid the bustling crowds of Asakusa and Ginza, Sexy Line is a witty and energetic journey into Tokyo’s licentious underworld.

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