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Happiness of the Katakuris, The 
Written by: on October 13th, 2008

Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 2001
Director: Takashi Miike
Writer: Kikumi Yamagishi
Cast: Kenji Sawada, Keiko Matsuzaka, Shinji Takeda, Naomi Nishida, Kiyoshiro Imawano, Tetsuro Tamba, Naoto Takenaka, Tamaki Miyazaki, Takashi Matsuzaki

DVD released: November 14th, 2008
Approximate running time: 113 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese
Subtitles: English
DVD Release: Eastern Star/Discotek
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95

Synopsis: The Katakuri family has recently opened an inn. They are forced to conceal a series of mishaps. That has happened to their guests if they want to stay in business.

The Happiness of the Katakuris was directed by Takashi Miike who most notable films include Ichi the Killer and The Audition. The film was loosely inspired by the Korean film The Quiet Family. Takashi Miike is a prolific filmmaker who has directed over seventy films and worked in just about every film genre. Even when Takashi Miike works within a certain genre the end result is almost always something that transcends the genre and is unique to him as a filmmaker. At the core of The Happiness of the Katakuris is a subversive comedy that incorporates zombies, musical numbers and stop motion animation into the truly bizarre story.

The film’s greatest strength is its colorful characters most notable is a character Richâdo Sagawa who pretends that his is a relative of the British Royal family. Takashi Miike does a superb job combining that various genres. The film’s musical numbers are all surprisingly infectious in tone. The film’s features an amazing cast who all deliver spellbinding performances. Most of Takashi Miike’s films are known for the downbeat and often violent subject matter. The Happiness of the Katakuris is refreshing change of pace from Takashi Miike. That underneath the surface bears many similarities to some of his most famous films. Ultimately The Happiness of the Katakuris is Takashi Miike’s most daring and original film to date.

The DVD:

Eastern Star presents The Happiness of the Katakuris in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. Overall this progressive flagged transfer look clean, details are razor sharp, colors are robust and the image remains stable throughout.

This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital stereo mix in Japanese and English subtitles have been included. The subtitles are error free, easy to follow and understand. The audio is in great shape with crystal clear dialog and an evenly balanced audio mix that at times sounds dynamic.

Extras for this release include T.V. spot and trailer for The Happiness of the Katakuris and five minute segment about the animation used in the film. Other extras include Interviews director Takashi Miike, actors Kenji Sawada, Shinji Takeda, Kiyoshiro Imawano, Tetsuro Tamba and actresses Keiko Matsuzaka and Naomi Nishida. Takashi Miike gives background info on the film and the cast discuss their roles. There is also a thirty one minute making of documentary that includes behind the scenes footage and some brief comments from Takashi Miike and the cast. The main extra for this release is an audio commentary with Takashi Miike and actor/film critic Tokitoshi Shiota. Both participants really let loose with their comments. In between their joking around and singing to the songs in the film there is some interesting observations and background details about the film revealed. All of the extras are in Japanese and English subtitles have been provided. Also included with this release are trailers for Sukeban Boy, Sars Wars, Bohachi Bushido: Clan of the Forgotten Eight, Killer Pussy and Oh My Zombie Mermaid.

The Happiness of the Katakuris had been previously released in region 1 on DVD by Chimera/American Cinematheque in 2003. This new DVD release from Eastern Star carries over all the extras except a thirty three minute interview with director Takashi Miike which is on the Chimera/American Cinematheque DVD release. Overall The Happiness of the Katakuris makes its return to DVD via a fully loaded special edition DVD from eastern Star that comes with an exceptional audio/video presentation.

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