Young Thugs - Nostalgia (1997)
By: CJ on November 19, 2004  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Artsmagic (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 1:85:1 (16:9 enhanced). Japanese DD 5.1. English Subtitles. 93 Minutes
The Movie
Director:Takashi Miike
Starring: Naoto Takenaka, Saki Takaoka, Yuki Nagata and Shonusuke Shofukutei
Screenplay: Nakamura (based on a novel by Toshikazu Nakaba)
Music: Kôji Endô
Country: Japan
AKA: Kishiwada shônen gurentai: Bôkyô
Nostalgia is Takashi Miike's second entry into the Young Thugs series and tells the story of Riichi Nakaba's formative years (Innocent Blood documents his teenage years). So it's actually a prequel of sorts to Miike's own Young Thugs – Innocent Blood.

Set in 1969, the story is pretty much a tale of the passage of rites of young Riichi, as he passes from youth to adolescence. It charts his fortunes as he deals with the difficulties of school, rivalries with his peers (which continues in more brutal fashion in Innocent Blood) and coping with his somewhat dysfunctional family. Dispensing with the ultra-violence, which is commonly (and mistakenly) associated with Miike's work, it focuses more on the human drama and the difficulties of approaching adulthood. Set against the backdrop of the lunar landing, the film shows Riichi growing up against a backdrop of technological change and progress, and so there is a distinct reflection of old and new. This is a Japan that is facing a huge cultural shift, whilst Riichi faces huge changes in his own life.

Despite the characters being so odd and the presentation of Riichi's family as being so dysfunctional, everybody comes across as being rather likeable – and Riichi's imperfect father, although somewhat insensitive, is hard to hate, even though his behaviour is reprehensible at times. Miike regards this as his favourite film – it certainly seems to be his most personal work, with great care and attention given to character-building and meticulous period detail. The main problem is that it's really not all that interesting to watch and moves along at a snail's pace. It's nowhere near as entertaining as Innocent Blood and seems to get bogged down in itself early on in the film. That's not to say it's a bad film by any means, just that it's not very compelling viewing. I'm sure the supposed autobiographical book by Toshikazu (Riichi) Nakaba himself is a great read, but it doesn't translate well to the medium of film.

Overall it's a rather dull and uneventful movie populated with characters that should have provided more interest, but didn't. This is one for Miike completists only, I'm afraid.
Artsmagic give the film a smart looking 1.85:1 anamorphic presentation, which looks superb. The transfer is clean, sharp and free from any artifacting or print damage. Colours are consistent and the blacks are solid and free from digital smearing. Very nice indeed.
The disc has a Japanese 5.1 audio track and is perfectly acceptable. No audio fireworks to speak of, but it's balanced nicely across the 5.1 sound platform. No complaints in this department and, I should add, comes with clear and easy to read English subtitles.
Extra Features
Artsmagic grace the disc with some worthwhile supplementary features, which include an informative and insightful on-camera interview with Miike himself, a feature documenting the people and culture of Osaka, where the film is set, artwork gallery and biographies and filmographies of the cast and crew. It's an impressive package overall for an obscurity such as this and will no doubt be very pleasing to fans of Miike's films.
The Verdict
Less impressive than the other films I have seen from Miike's oeuvre, but one that will undoubtedly be sought out by Miike completists, but sadly it's less than interesting for the casual viewer. It's a well-crafted film for sure, just not very exciting or involving. Nevertheless, it's nice to see it on DVD for Western audiences to see and make up their own minds about it and I'm sure there are some who will derive great pleasure from watching it – but I found it all rather tedious and something of a chore to sit through. I've given it a two out of five rating because, despite my dislike of the film, I still recognise that it's a well-made movie in spite of its major shortcomings.
Movie Score
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