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The Little House (2014) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) Blu-ray Region A

Matsu Takako (Actor) | Tsumabuki Satoshi (Actor) | Kuroki Haru (Actor) | Baisho Chieko (Actor)
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All Editions Rating: Customer Review Rated Bad 8 - 8 out of 10 (1)

YesAsia Editorial Description

Still going strong at the age of 82, veteran director Yamada Yoji tells a small story in a turbulent period with The Little House. Based on a novel by Nakajima Kyoko, this heartrending drama chronicles a taboo love affair set in the late 1930s, at the eve of the Sino-Japanese War. In a performance that earned her a Silver Bear for Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival, Kuroki Haru stars as Taki, a young girl from the countryside who moves to Tokyo to become a maid for the Hirai Family. During Taki's time there, she witnesses a burgeoning extramarital affair between family matriarch Tokiko (Matsu Takako) and Shoji (Yoshioka Hidetaka), a new employee at her husband's toy manufacturing company. With moral pressure from society and the threat of impending war closing in, Tokiko is forced to make a choice.
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Technical Information

Product Title: The Little House (2014) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version) 東京小屋 (2014) (Blu-ray) (香港版) 东京小屋 (2014) (Blu-ray) (香港版) 小さいおうち (2014) (Blu-ray) (香港版) The Little House (2014) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version)
Also known as: 東京小屋的回憶 东京小屋的回忆
Artist Name(s): Matsu Takako (Actor) | Tsumabuki Satoshi (Actor) | Kuroki Haru (Actor) | Baisho Chieko (Actor) 松隆子 (Actor) | 妻夫木聰 (Actor) | 黑木華 (Actor) | 倍賞千惠子 (Actor) 松隆子 (Actor) | 妻夫木聪 (Actor) | 黑木华 (Actor) | 倍赏千惠子 (Actor) 松たか子 (Actor) | 妻夫木聡 (Actor) | 黒木華 (Actor) | 倍賞千恵子 (Actor) | 片岡孝太郎 (Actor) 마츠 타카코 (Actor) | Tsumabuki Satoshi (Actor) | Kuroki Haru (Actor) | Baisho Chieko (Actor)
Director: Yamada Yoji 山田洋次 山田洋次 山田洋次 Yamada Yoji
Blu-ray Region Code: A - Americas (North, Central and South except French Guiana), Korea, Japan, South East Asia (including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) What is it?
Release Date: 2014-09-30
Language: Japanese
Subtitles: English, Traditional Chinese
Country of Origin: Japan
Picture Format: [HD] High Definition What is it?
Sound Information: Dolby Digital 2.0
Disc Format(s): Blu-ray
Screen Resolution: 1080p (1920 x 1080 progressive scan)
Duration: 137 (mins)
Publisher: Panorama (HK)
Package Weight: 120 (g)
Shipment Unit: 1 What is it?
YesAsia Catalog No.: 1036906241

Product Information

In 1936, Taki leaves her hometown in the countryside to work as a maid at a somewhat modern house with a red gabled roof in the suburbs of Tokyo. It is the tranquil home of kindhearted Tokiko, her husband Masaki, and their adorable son. However, when a young man enters their lives, Tokiko finds herself irresistibly drawn toward him. Taki remains loyal to Tokiko and devotedly takes care of her family while she grows increasingly aware of the furtive love affair developing in her midst, but is eventually forced to make a heartrending decision.

60 year later, the now elderly Taki writes her life story in a notebook, retracing her momories of the days she spent in the little house. She is encouraged by her young relative Takeshi, who eagerly reads each chapter. Several years on, Taki has passed away. While sorting through her belongings, Takeshi finds an unaddressed, unopened envelope containing a letter. This drives him to attempt to uncover the truth surrounding a secret that Taki kept sealed away until her dying day.
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Awards

This film has won 1 award(s). All Award-Winning Asian Films

YumCha! Asian Entertainment Reviews and Features

Professional Review of "The Little House (2014) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version)"

December 22, 2014

This professional review refers to The Little House (2014) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version)
With a career spanning more than 50 years and more than 80 films, Japanese director Yamada Yoji is one of the country's most acclaimed and best-loved filmmakers. To follow up Tokyo Family, his highly accomplished updating of Ozu's Tokyo Story, Yamada elected to adapt novelist Nakajima Kyoko's classic The Little House, a moving look at Japanese society during the tumultuous years before and leading up to the Second World War. The film is very much an actresses?showcase, with Kuroki Haru (The Great Passage) turning in an excellent performance which won her Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival, supported by the similarly sterling turns from Matsu Takako (Confessions) and veteran Baisho Chieko, who worked many times with the director in the past, notably on his Tora-san series.

Revolving around a flashback within a flashback structure, the film opens at the funeral of an elderly woman called Taki, before following her in her late years (played by Baisho Chieko), narrating her autobiography to grandson Takeshi (Tsumabuki Satoshi, The World of Kanako). Her tale takes her back to her journey as a young girl (then played by Kuroki Haru) as she travels from the countryside to Tokyo, where she is taken on as a maid by the Hirai family, who live in the picturesque red-roofed house of the title. Life with the Hirais, Tokiko (Matsu Takako), her toy company worked husband Masaki (Kataoka Takataro, Emperor) and their young son is pleasant and peaceful, and Taki finds herself very much at home. Things change with the arrival of a young man called Shoji (Yoshioka Hidetaka, another Yamada alumnus, having featured in The Hidden Blade and the Tora-san films when younger), who Tokiko immediately feels herself drawn towards, and with the approach of war and economic decline sweeping across the country, life quickly becomes more complicated and difficult choices loom.

With The Little House, Yamada Yoji presents a fascinating and quietly searching examination of change in Japanese society, and the confusion and chaotic shifts which occurred in the 1930s and 40s. Although the multi-layered flashback narrative might sound convoluted, it actually works very well in this regard, and the present day scenes featuring Baisho Chieko and Tsumabuki Satoshi provide an effective modern perspective on traditions and attitudes of the past, in particular with regards to Japanese imperialism, the Sino-Japanese War and the increase of US influence. Very much in the manner of Ozu, Yamada offers subtle social criticism and commentary, depicting the people of the period blindly trusting the government and authority figures, and how stoic belief in the Japanese empire and its infallibility led to its downfall. What makes this particularly interesting is the way the film charts historical events from the perspective of everyday people, taking an intimate approach to an epic and far-reaching story, and Yamada successfully utilises this for a sense of bittersweet and at times grim nostalgia.

The central pairings at the heart of the film are complex and similarly symbolic of both traditions of societal upheavals. Thankfully, the three-way relationship between Taki, Tokiko and Shoji never develops into a melodramatic love triangle, instead being used to illustrate conflict and repression. The bond between Taki and Tokiko, though at face value a portrait of master and servant also seems to suggest that Taki is enamoured of her employer rather than Shoji, refusing to leave or to be married off, and this adds another dimension and emotional depth. Tokiko and Shoji's illicit affair is somewhat more straightforward, though still makes for some engaging drama, the differences between him and other men of the time again allowing Yamada to make observations on the modern transformation of Japanese culture.

Yamada's helming is as immaculately crafted as ever, though where the film really impresses is through the performances of the two main actresses. Kuroki Haru is superb in the lead, making Taki a highly intriguing protagonist and a believably human figure rather than a mere cypher for change. Despite her emotions being largely hidden, her turn is moving, and the way she reacts to the gradual disintegration of her happy life and of her idealised view of her employers is engaging throughout, building to a devastating final choice. Matsu Takako is also excellent as the troubled Tokiko, torn between her feelings for Shoji and her dedication to her family, and with pressure weighing down on her from all sides, her plight and suffering are compelling and tragic. Yoshioka Hidetaka sadly isn't quite as praiseworthy, being somewhat miscast and a little too old for the role of the earnest Shoji, though this is at least in part due to him and the rest of the male cast being in the shadow of their female counterparts.

The Little House is another fine work from Yamada Yoji, and one which should be enjoyed by his followers and anyone interested in Japanese social history. Handsomely helmed and anchored by fine performances by Kuroki Haru and Matsu Takako, it's a moving and highly accomplished film, which sees Yamada further cementing his reputation as one Japan's greatest and most consistent directors.

by James Mudge - EasternKicks.com

This original content has been created by or licensed to YesAsia.com, and cannot be copied or republished in any medium without the express written permission of YesAsia.com.

Customer Review of "The Little House (2014) (Blu-ray) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version)"

Average Customer Rating for All Editions of this Product: Customer Review Rated Bad 8 - 8 out of 10 (1)

Kevin Kennedy
See all my reviews


November 18, 2014

This customer review refers to The Little House (2014) (DVD) (English Subtitled) (Hong Kong Version)
1 people found this review helpful

A little house in Tokyo Customer Review Rated Bad 8 - 8 out of 10
After seeing more than fifty of director Yamada Yoji's films, I've concluded that Yamada has never found a character he didn't like. There are no truly evil people in his films and the few characters who do something terribly wrong are presented in sympathetic fashion. That's certainly the case with "The Little House", in which Yamada casts a warm light over a woman who betrays her marital vows.

"The Little House" plays as a series of flashbacks drawn from the memoir of Taki, a girl from Japan's snow country who comes to Tokyo in the mid-1930s in search of a job. (The young Taki is played by Kuroki Haru; the elderly Taki who writes and narrates the memoir is played by Baisho Chieko.) Taki is hired to work in the home of the Hirai family. Mr. Hirai (Kataoka Takataro) is a plain-faced, plain-spoken toy company executive whose mind is filled with his work and with the 'glory' of the growing Japanese empire, which Hirai hopes will bring new markets for his products. His wife Tokiko (Matsu Takako, looking glorious in '30s fashions) lives comfortably, loves her young son, and is treated well by her husband, but yearns for a cultured life in which her husband has little interest.

Those yearnings take on human form when Mr. Hirai hires young designer Itakura (Yoshioka Hidetaka, who played Baisho Chieko's son in Yamada's Tora-San films). Tokiko is drawn to the artistic, music-loving designer and he can't help but be smitten by the attentions of his boss's lovely wife. Young Taki is horrified to see the friendship between Tokiko and Itakura become more than merely platonic. She must decide whether to try to save the family she has grown to love or to honor Tokiko's dishonorable wishes.

"The Little House" is beautifully filmed, smoothly told, and splendidly acted, with one exception. Yoshioka Hidetaka is too old and too plain to play 20-something Itakura, whom Yoshioka presents as an overgrown dreamy adolescent. Would Tokiko really be drawn to such a man? The film is presented as Taki's memories, yet incongruously includes scenes that occur outside of Taki's presence. I was troubled by Yamada's sympathetic depiction of an infidelity that could humiliate an honorable husband and harm an innocent child. Out of all the Yamada films I've seen, this is the first I've encountered about which I have seriously mixed feelings.
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