by HELEN GEIB
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