The Movie: 8/10
Story is a big deal with movies, right? Sometimes you might not notice with all the explosions and bullshit slapstick nothingness that populates many Hollywood offerings. It’s not a new thing. Since art was invented, or discovered, or however we came to first scratch marks on a cave wall or tell tales, there have been a contrast between the more meaningful expressions of ideas, and the ones that are meant to just be a distraction, empty, no depth or attempt to evoke more than a superficial response. Kumiko might not be the most meaningful story ever told, but as a fictional study in human behaviors it’s got a depth that really turns me on.
A woman who doesn’t seem to fit into her life seeks a treasure. She made a map and everything. She has reason to believe there is buried money in America and she sets off to find it. Her quest is full of encounters with people and tribulations, and yet it’s quiet and calm. She is single-minded in her determination. While we might cringe at some of her choices and interactions. We might also wonder how she makes it all the way from Japan to North Dakota barely speaking English and seriously limited funds. All these things need to be left on the outside of your bubble of belief. We are along for the journey of a woman in crisis, finding it difficult in this life and clinging to something that seems to make it all worthwhile.
I don’t want to say much about the details of the movie. It’s best experienced, cozied up in a blanket, cup of hot chocolate (trust me on this you’re gonna need it) and an open mind. Pain and suffering come in lots of forms. Kumiko is one of those people who might not understand how to have a balanced productive life. Seeing her struggle with, and be driven to follow, her own path without the kind of planning and “thinking it through” we might do is freeing. Her choices, the pace and editing of the film, all eliminate a lot of the fussiness of reason and rationality:) Some writers might tell the story as if she was a go getting, bold, decision-making woman determined to get to her destination. Instead she’s almost lost from the time we meet her and it’s amazing that she makes it to any destination at all, and yet she seems brave.
The cast is amazing, from the Japanese co-workers and her boss to the American North Dakotan police officer she encounters. Everyone is committed to making Kumiko have a certain kind of vibe with a hint of overriding menace mixed with solitude, silence, kindness, fearlessness, compassion, and sadness.
Overall this is one of those movies that makes me glad to be a movie lover. I might not fully understand it, the symbolism or the deeper themes, but it stimulates something more than my funny bone or my adrenaline gland (even though those things are happy to be stimulated too sometimes:)).
- Deleted Scenes – Some unexpectedly funny deleted scenes that are a must see. This even includes 2 alternate endings.
- Director Commentary – The Zellner Brothers are quite funny and they really take you on a journey in this commentary track. Learn how a low-budget film is made if you’re a film student there are invaluable tidbits here.
Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
I would have this cover as a poster, or better yet the actual poster as a poster, maybe even both:) I immediately invites me into this character’s life, and that is a lot of pull for one little image.
Audio & Video: 8/10
Anchor Bay have done quite a good job on the transfer of Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter on Blu-Ray. The beautifully framed 2.35:1 AVC 1080P encode really highlights the amazing cinematography. Colors are lifelike and dark scenes are never crushed, I saw no signs of ringing, banding or edge enhancement while viewing projected on a 104 inch screen.
Audio is provided courtesy of the TrueHD 5.1 lossless codec and is a subtle as it is boombastic. The film has little action but there are a few scenes where the LFE channel and surround speakers light up. What really matters here is dialog and the entire movie is centered and never lost under the score. This is a beautiful movie and a beautiful HD presentation to boot.
Overall Score 8/10