A Snake of June DVD Review

Written by Steve Pattee

DVD released by Tartan Films USA

Written and directed by Shinya Tsukamoto
2002, Region 1 (NTSC), 77 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on February 22nd, 2005

Asuka Kurosawa as Rinko Tatsumi
Yuji Kohtari as Shigehiko
Shinya Tsukamoto as Iguchi

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Rinko (Asuka Kurosawa) is a suicide hotline counselor by day — and she is very good at her job.

However, by night, it is apparent she is not as happy with her marriage as she seems to be with her job. Something is obviously missing from her relationship with her husband, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. They just seem to be going through the day-to-day motions.

One day, Rinko receives an envelope marked “Secret From Your Husband.” When she opens the envelope, she finds it contains several pictures of her. Pictures she obviously was not aware were being taken. Because if she knew, she probably have not been doing what she was doing. Masturbating.

The next day, another envelope follows the first, this time containing pictures of her making, and modeling, a very, very short skirt.

While perusing the latest batch of pictures, Rinko hears a phone ringing — and it’s not hers. She reaches into the envelope and finds the ringing cell phone. And the person who sent the pictures is on the other line.

Now, with the promise of returning the negatives, the mysterious caller leads Rinko through an interesting path of sexual discovery — a path Rinko seemingly does not want to take.

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While Rinko tries to lead a “normal” life as a good wife and dedicated employee, it is obvious she is also a sexual bubble, waiting to burst — just not obvious to her. And credit must go to Kurosawa for pulling this off so masterfully. Even as Rinko is forced to walk, sans underwear, through a busy mall in a skirt that barely covers her back yard, you can tell part of her is enjoying it — even if her face is a mixture of embarrassment and humiliation, there is a hint of satisfaction as well. It’s a fascinating combination and a brilliant performance.

Yuji Kohtari, who plays Rinko’s husband, Shigehiko, also delivers a slam-dunk performance as a man who, while a little odd with his cleaning habits, loves his wife deeply — even if he doesn’t seem show it. And when he realizes what his lover has been doing, he fears he will lose her, so he does whatever it takes to keep her.

Rounding out the cast is director Shinya Tsukamoto, who also wears the acting hat, portraying the photo-stalker Iguchi. His performance is more than adequate, but it is Kurosawa who steals the show.

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At its very core, A Snake of June is a movie about a woman forced to accept her sexuality — society be damned. Or, rather, accept her sensuality, because June is not a sexual movie, it is a sensual one. There is a subtle difference between the two, and Tsukamoto manages to keep the movie incredibly sensual, without ever crossing the line.

But that is only its core, and there is so much more to June. So much that you won’t catch all of the nuances and innuendos on the first viewing. Or the second. Or maybe even the third. But I assure you, the movie is a well of symbolism, open to various interpretation, and it demands you keep going back in order to quench your thirst. And, like the cult hit Donnie Darko, the more you discover what is going on, the more questions you have and the better the movie gets.

Given one chance, the mystery of June will compel you to watch it a second time.

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Video and Audio:

Presented in 4:3 (its original aspect ratio), June was filmed with a blue filter that does nothing but add to the surrealism of the movie. A wonderful choice by Tsukamoto.

There is a tad bit of grain, but like the filter, it works well with the movie.

Japanese DTS, Dolby 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 are all offered on the disc. While June is a dialogue-driven movie (for the most part), the DTS track sounds spectacular, with the ambient sounds, such as the continuous rain, at times enveloping the room.

English and Spanish subtitles are offered.

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Special Features:

While the disc is not loaded with special features — two documentaries, five trailers and a photo-gallery — the info packed in the documentaries more than makes up for it.

The documentaries (“Playing A Snake of June” and “Shooting A Snake of June”) contain a wealth of information that gives you not only a better understanding of Tsukamoto’s vision, but the actors’ motivation behind their characters. Two fascinating watches that are not your typical fluff-piece throwaways.

The trailers included are A Snake of June, A Tale of Two Sisters, Koma, Old Boy and Whispering Corridors.

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Movie: Cover

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Steve Pattee
US Editor, Admin
He's the puppet master. You don't see him, but he pulls the strings that gets things done. He's the silent partner. He's black ops. If you notice his presence, it's the last thing you'll notice — because now you're dead. He's the shadow you thought you saw in that dark alleyway. You can have a conversation with him, and when you turn around to offer him a cup of coffee, he's already gone.
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