Daido Moriyama - one of the world's renown photographers who's shaky and off focus photographers were unacceptable in the past but now is considered one of the greatest artistic photographers living today and known for creating anew era of photography for postwar Japan.
His photographs captured everday subjects but with a focus on the dark and gloomy part of Japanese cities that are typically unnoticed and eventually becoming a photographer who took images depicting the breakdown of traditional values in post-war Japan.
Influenced by Shomei Tomatsu, William Klein, Andy Warhol and Eiko Hosoe, Moriyama studied photography under the tutelage of Takeji Iwamiya, another popular Japanese photographer known for his photography capturing architecture, gardens and Japanese crafts.
Not much is known about Daido Moriyama because he is an extremely private man, but in 2000, Moriyama gave director Kenjiro Fujii unprecedented access to create a film about his work and a more personal interview about his life in general and now that film is available in the US courtesy of Viz Pictures "New People Artist Series vol. 003'.
"Daido Moriyama - Stray Dog of Tokyo - New People Artist Series 003' is presented in color, 4:3. The majority of the shots were captured in Moriyama's studio and footage of the photographer wandering through Japan as he takes his pictures. The documentary was shot with a regular camcorder and thus picture quality displays quite a bit of combing which is visible while watching. But mostly in scenes where there is a lot of motion. It's not really disturbing, considering this is more of a documentary type of film but for those who are concerned about PQ, there is quite a bit of combing that is quite evident throughout the film but mostly evident when Moriyama is outdoors shooting his photos.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
"Daido Moriyama - Stray Dog of Tokyo - New People Artist Series 003' is presented in Japanese Dolby Digital with English subtitles. Audio is clear and I didn't hear any major hissing or pops during viewing. Music is also utilized on this film.
"Daido Moriyama - Stray Dog of Tokyo - New People Artist Series 003' comes with no special features but trailers for currently released or coming soon "New People Artist Series" titles. You do get a one sheet bio. on Moriyama and director Fujii and personal history on the photographer.
Typically when you hear about artists who keep to themselves, they typically are not so embracing of being filmed. As we have seen in the previous two New People Artist Series volumes with Yoshitomo Nara and Yayoi Kusama, although they have given unprecedented access to them creating their work, we have seen them get upset to nearly trying to find ways to get away from the camera because they don't like being shot on camera and want their work to be the vocal point and not them.
But interesting enough, Daido Moriyama, who is not known to give access to media, is rather cool and aloof in "Stray Dog of Tokyo". Moriyama wanted this documentary to be shot in an amateur way and thus gave access to director Kenjiro Fujii and one assistant and let them cover him for five months, wanting the documentary to have a feel like a photo documentation type of style to it.
The legendary photographer answers every question asked of him and doesn't stray away from them, especially questions in concerns to his family and his past drug use. Moriyama is candid about his whole life experience and we get to learn of his challenges, his inspirations and despite going on shooting photography for over 50 years, he is not ready to give up photography just yet. And even in one segment, he borrows the filmmaker's digital camera and starts experiencing how digital cameras work and what kind of photography he is able to capture with one.
And also we get perspectives from photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, critic Kazuo Nishii and others who give us an idea of what makes Moriyama's photography so special and what he is able to capture that most people are unable to repeat. But most of all, we learn of Moriyama's take towards photography and his mentality with shooting pictures. From the use of high contrast, the emphasis of grays and more.
As for the DVD, yes it may have been shot on a regular camcorder and it's a DVD that does not come with many special features but when you get unprecedented access to these legendary artists and photographers, you can't help but grateful that there is a documentary based on that creator and in this case, you get you're money's worth with this DVD release.
So, far these first three volumes from the New People Artist Series have been wonderful. We can always appreciate these works of art and photography by the creators but these releases give us a chance to see what goes on behind-the-scenes of these creators today and watch them in action as they are working on a project. While most of the New People Artist Series focuses on paintings, I was grateful to see a photographer was included into the series.
Overall, if you are a fan of Daido Moriyama's work, I definitely recommend picking up "Stray Dog of Tokyo". Definitely recommended!