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Being Natural (Kani) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Being Natural (Kani) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Kani
    Released on: December 28th, 2021.
    Director: Tadashi Nagayama
    Cast: Yohta Kawase, Kanji Tsuda, Natsuki Mieda, Kazua Akieda, Tadahiro Tsuru, Shoichiro Tanigawa
    Year: 2018
    Purchase From Amazon

    Being Natural – Movie Review:

    Directed by Tadashi Nagayama, 2018's Being Natural opens with a quiet scene where a man living in a small Japanese town emerges from his home in the middle of the night and plays his bongos under the stars. This man is Takashi Uno (Yohta Kawase) and he's a simple man with simple needs in life, the type of guy suited to a calm, quiet existence in a small country town.

    When Takashi's bastard of an uncle, who he was a caretaker for, passes away, the deceased bequeaths to Takeshi's cousin Mitsuaki (Shoichiro Tanigawa), recently divorced, inherits the older man's quaint country home and, as he's got a lot on his mind, puts Takashi in charge of taking care of the place. They don't get along so well at first but as time passes, that starts to change. Takashi and his brother strike up a friendship with the local grocer, Sho (Tadahiro Tsuru), and spend much of their time just sort of hanging out, fishing behind the house, eating good food, having fun and enjoying one another's company.

    All of this changes when Keigo Kurihara (Kanji Tsuda) and his wife Satomi (Natsuki Mieda) arrive from Tokyo with their daughter in tow, Hell-bent on starting a new business with a small cafe, no matter who gets in their way - and they've got their sights set on the house as their intended location.

    Being Natural is a calm, quiet movie, until it isn’t. We won’t spoil the ending here but it’s unlikely you’ll see it coming even if you know a bit about what the movie is about before you sit down to watch it, as it really comes out of left field. At the same time, as crazy as it seems while it’s happening, it feels right after the build-up that Nagayama and company have preceded it with. The story seems very simple to start with, almost like it isn’t really about much at all except three oddball friends hanging out, eating noodles, playing bongos and fishing, but stick with it, the movie goes in some very strange and unexpected directions in its final third and offers up some moments of oddly endearing and warm humor along the way.

    The performances really sell it. Yohta Kawase is excellent in the lead, we completely buy him as a bit of a bumpkin, a nice guy but maybe not the most ambitious guy on the planet. A likeable slacker, if you will. He has an interesting and quirky chemistry with Shoichiro Tanigawa and the seriously goofy Tadahiro Tsuru, they make a fun team. Kanji Tsuda gives Kawase a run for his money, however, really delivering top notch work here with Natsuki Mieda also delivering a strong turn as his wife.

    Being Natural – Blu-ray Review:

    Kani offers up Being Natural on Region Free Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation framed at 1.78.1 widescreen with the ninety-five minute feature taking up 27.2GBs of space on the 25GB disc. Shot digitally, detail is pretty solid here and color reproduction looks good. The image is consistently on the warm side but you get the impression that’s intentional. Colors look pretty good, black levels too. No problems with any compression to note. All in all, this looks quite nice.

    The only audio option for the feature itself is a 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track in the film’s native Japanese language with optional subtitles provided in English only. Audio quality is just fine. This is primarily a dialogue intensive picture, there isn’t much in the way of opportunity for a surround mix to add a whole lot. Dialogue is crisp and clear and the levels are nicely balanced. The score sounds good. No problems to note here.

    Out Fishing is a nineteen minute featurette that interviews Tadashi Nagayama, writer Yuriko Suzuki and actor Yohta Kawase. This piece goes into some detail about what went into the origins of the picture, where the ideas for the story came from, casting the film and what it was like on set.

    The Making Of Being Natural: Public Talk At K's Cinema is a twenty minute featurette from 2019 that features Tadashi Nagayama and the members of the film's effects team. They cover what it was like on set during the shoot, who did what behind the camera and what was involved in creating some of the effects set pieces for the movie.

    Outside of that, the disc includes a trailer for the feature and English language credits as well as menus and chapter selection options. Inside the clear keepcase is an insert booklet containing an essay on the film titled A Story Of Floating Radium by Mathieu Li-Goyette as well as a postcard and sticker that tie into the film.

    Being Natural - The Final Word:

    At first, Being Natural isn’t going to seem like it really has much going on, but stick with it. This builds in interesting and unusual ways to a pretty impressive conclusion thanks to some skilled direction and strong acting. The Blu-ray release from Kani is a good one, giving the film a strong high definition North American debut on a disc with some decent extra features. Recommended.

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Being Natural Blu-ray screen caps!

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