Monthly Archives: March 2017

Film Review: After The Storm

Film Review: After The Storm

Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s After The Storm is an elegant film with a graceless protagonist. It might be impossible to engage with this story if told by another filmmaker. Luckily, Kore-Eda (Our Little Sister, I Wish) is here to deliver moments of humor, nuance, and insight. The result is a truly special film. Ryôta (Hiroshi Abe), author of a prize-winning first novel, is in an extended rough patch. Now he works for a Tokyo detective agency, supposedly as research for the second novel he has never gotten around to starting. He squanders money on gambling, which leaves him unable to pay child support.

After his father dies, Ryôto feels even more adrift. His mother Yoshiko (Kiki Kilin), and ex-wife Kyoko (Yôko Maki), both seem to be making new lives. Ryôto worries about how this will affect his relationship with his son, Shingo (Yoshizawa Taiyô). A typhoon forces everyone to take shelter in Yoshiko’s cramped apartment. Being in such close quarters provides an opportunity to revisit old issues.

Kore-Eda is often called a successor to Ozu, and this film makes it easy to see why. The scenes in Yoshiko’s apartment, especially, illustrate so many aspects of domestic living. While the presentation may lack Ozu’s low focus, it shares his loving attention to detail. Yoshiko shows Ryôto a tangerine tree on her balcony-turns out it is one he grew from seed as a student. Although still alive, the tree has never flowered or borne fruit. She says, “I water it every day like it’s you.” (In a nifty bit of irony, the tangerine is a Japanese symbol of the wish for a long and prosperous bloodline.)

It is obvious Yoshiko loves her son and is very proud of him, though without fully understanding him. At one point she makes what she considers to be a wise observation. Immediately, she badgers Ryôto to take down her words, on the grounds that he could use them for his writing. Other family members are less accepting. Ryôto’s sister gets the name of his literary prize wrong on purpose. His late father hated novels and gave him very little encouragement toward his writing career.

The facets of the story relating to Ryôto as a writer provide context that turns After The Storm into something more than a domestic drama. They help the viewer make sense of Ryôto’s hesitance to take lucrative writing jobs of lesser prestige. If the narrative does not fully explain his restlessness, at least it makes this quality easier to tolerate.

After The Storm is a beautifully crafted film about reflection and second chances-from a writer’s point of view.

Theme: A Writer’s Life

Related Posts: Film Appreciation: Before Sunset  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/film-appreciation-before-sunset/

A Writer’s Life: List For Week Ending April 2, 2017  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/a-writers-life-list-for-week-ending-april-2-2017/

Film Appreciation: Before Sunset

Film Appreciation: Before Sunset

Before Sunset, the second in Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy, is an uncommonly romantic film. All the elements are there: two characters with overwhelming chemistry, obstacles separating them, a chance reunion, the continuing possibility of “happily ever after.” There is whip-smart dialogue throughout, accompanied by views of Paris. But, wait there is more. Read between theContinue Reading

Film Review: Song To Song

Film Review: Song To Song

We cannot stay where we are. We must journey forward. We must find that which is greater than fortune or fate. Nothing can bring us peace but that. The Tree Of Life, Preacher’s Speech  The nuns taught us there were two ways through life-the way of nature and the way of grace…..Nature only wants toContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: Sunrise

Film Appreciation: Sunrise

It is not often that a studio head gets a masterpiece when he orders a director to produce one, but it happened in 1927. William Fox (of Fox Studios) convinced prominent German director F. W. Murnau to come to the U.S. Fox gave Murnau freedom (monetarily and otherwise) to produce the film he wanted. TheContinue Reading

Paradise Regained: List For Week Ending March 26, 2017

Paradise Regained: List For Week Ending March 26, 2017

Our films this week all deal with paradise (idyllic state) being regained. It can take many forms-romantic, mythic, epic. This is not intended as an all-inclusive list. Reader suggestions are welcome. If you know an addition for this list, please write using the comments below. Song To Song (2017) (Reviewed In Thinking Cinema 3/24/17) http://www.thinkingcinema.com/film-review-song-to-song/ SunriseContinue Reading

Film Review: Frantz

Film Review: Frantz

François Ozon’s film Frantz raises intriguing questions about telling the truth. What if a comforting fiction works just as well, maybe better? Are we always obligated to relate the exact details, no matter how painful? It is Germany in the year 1919. Anna (a fabulous Paula Beer) mourns her fiancée, Frantz, a soldier who diedContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: Broken Lullaby

Film Appreciation: Broken Lullaby

*****SPOILERS THROUGHOUT***** Here’s hoping fortunes are about to change for Ernst Lubitsch’s 1932 Broken Lullaby. It is Lubitsch’s only sound film that is not a comedy. Contemporary critics responded favorably, but audiences largely ignored it. Later screenings of the film did not help its reputation. This assessment from Pauline Kael is typical: “Lubitsch can’t entirelyContinue Reading

Film Review: Free Fire

Film Review: Free Fire

Free Fire, Ben Wheatley’s new film, is a rush. It is like watching a big-budget version of Reservoir Dogs at about twice the speed. At times, it becomes difficult to figure out where all the bullets are going, though the big picture remains clear throughout. The story takes place in 1978, at a rundown BostonContinue Reading