Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 10th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Japan 2006
Director: Tetsuya Nakashima
Writer: Tetsuya Nakashima
Cast: Miki Nakatani, Eita, Yûsuke Iseya, Mikako Ichikawa, Asuka Kurosawa, Gori, Shinji Takeda, YosiYosi Arakawa, Gekidan Hitori, Magî, Shôsuke Tanihara
BluRay released: February 14th, 2011
Approximate running time: 130 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanese
BluRay Release: Third Window Films
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: £19.99
Synopsis: One day a young man named Shô is given the task of cleaning up his recently deceased aunt’s apartment. Having never met his aunt. Since she was estranged from the rest of the family. He gets to know his aunt. By discussing his aunt with various people who knew her.
“Forgive me for being born” – Matsuko Kawajiri
These words are inscribed on the wall outside of the film’s protagonist Matsuko apartment. What could have possibly made someone write the above sentiment? This is just one of many clues that give deeper insight into the downward spiral that ultimately succumbed her.
Trying to sum up someone’s life and their untimely demise over the span of two hours. Is not an easy task. Thankfully this film does a great job keeping things concise. That there is not a lot of unnecessary filler. At the heart of this film is a story of woman named Matsuko, who’s murdered body is discovered at the beginning of the film. With the film’s narrative is told primarily via flashbacks which fill in Matsuko’s turbulent back-story.
From the get-go Memories of Matsuko is a roller coaster ride that at times is whimsical and often bleak. The earliest memories of Matsuko reveal a little girl, who is desperate for affection from her father. He devotes most of his time to her sickly younger sister. This eventually leads to her leaving home. After she makes her break away from her family. She struggles to find a stable relationship with anyone, who is not abusive towards. And while all of these relationships end badly. She always find with in herself a reason to live and not give up.
The heart and soul of this production is the spectacular performance from its leading lady Miki Nakatani (Ringu, Kaosu). She would go onto to win The Japanese academy award for best actress. Another performance of note is Asuka Kurosawa (A Snake of June), in the role of Megumi Sawamura. A friend of Matsuko’s that she meet, while serving eight years in prison for murder.
Memories of Matsuko was written and directed by Tetsuya Nakashima. And just like his previous film Kamikaze Girls. This film is a visual feast for the eyes. That offers a nice counter balance to the downbeat subject matter of the story at hand. Content wise this film is equal parts melodrama and musical. Pacing wise things start off briskly. Only to slow down by the second act. Thankfully the final act gets things moving again. And the film’s evocative ending provides a satisfying closure.
Memories of Matsuko comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. Memories of Matsuko had previously been released by Third Window Films on DVD and this BluRay improves upon that previous transfer in every way. Colors look nicely saturated and at times robust. Flesh tones look natural and black levels look consistently good throughout. Details look crisp, there are no problems with compression and DNR is kept in check.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in Japanese and removable English subtitles have been included. The audio is clean, clear, balanced and robust when it needs to be. With the film’s score benefiting most form this audio mix. Also the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented.
All the extra content included with this release comes on a second disc (a single layer DVD). Extras on this disc include a trailer for the film (1 minute 47 seconds – letterboxed widescreen), a segment titled ‘Storyboard to Film Comparison’ (12 minutes 40 seconds – 4:3 full frame, in Japanese with English subtitles), a Interview with soundtrack composer Gabriel Roberto (21 minutes 37 seconds -4:3 full frame) and a ‘Making of’ featurette (30 minutes 29 seconds – 4:3 full frame, in Japanese with English subtitles). The remaining extras included with this release are trailers for titles currently or soon to be released on DVD from Third Window Films. Overall this another strong Hi Def presentation from Third Window Films that improves upon all previous release of Memories of Matsuko, recommended.
Note: Even though the main feature is region free. All of the content on the second disc is region 2 and PAL.