CATEGORIES Action, Animation, Drama, Foreign Language, Independent, Noir, New on DVD, Comic/Superhero/Geek, Cinematical Indie, DVDs, CinematicalDo you want to look forward or backward? Out on DVD this week are two Japanese films separated by more than half a century. Animation director Satoshi Kon first made his mark with Perfect Blue (1997), a trippy journey into a pop singer's psyche that transcended time and space. He reversed course with Millennium Actress (2001), which crossed decades to tell the story of of a reclusive movie star, and slid into the mainstream with the much more straightforward Tokyo Godfathers (2003) before returning to more familiar territory with the made for television multi-episode series Paranoia Agent (2003).
His most recent film, Paprika, is a "visually rich tale," wrote Kim Voynar, "about a group of private scientists at a research facility who have invented a device called the DC Mini that allows 'dream detectives' to enter other people's dreams." The DVD includes a "making of" documentary, several featurettes and a filmmaker commentary.
Is it possible to summarize the career of Akira Kurosawa? Suffice it to say that his 1948 noir Drunken Angel was his first step into personal filmmaking and his first collaboration with the great actor Toshirô Mifune. As is their custom, The Criterion Collection has produced a DVD that features a new, restored high definition transfer, audio commentary by Japanese film expert Donald Richie, a "making of" documentary, a new "video piece" on the challenges that faced Kurosawa, and more.
Quite frankly, Wilson Yip's Dragon Tiger Gate is an unholy mess that tries to pretend 40-something Donnie Yen is about half his age -- and that's just the starting point for the foolishness unleashed. It could be argued that the action and the dramatics are intended to be over the top, since it's based on a popular manga, but I think that's probably insulting to the source material, which I haven't read. If you're a glutton for punishment -- or just a sucker for any kind of martial arts action and/or pretty boys Nicholas Tse and Shawn Yue -- you might like this more than I did. The DVD includes an audio commentary by Ric Meyers, a "making of" featurette and deleted scenes.