Sometimes a storm is just a storm. But this is rarely true in movies. If clouds gather on the horizon, it’s usually an omen about relationship troubles or a giant monster approaching, or possibly a twister leading the way to the land of Oz. Instead of trying to disguise the significance of the storm in After the Storm, director Hirokazu Kore-eda embraces it. For a filmmaker known as a subtle storyteller, this is downright heavy-handed. But if this film isn’t Kore-eda at his best—see Our Little Sister and Nobody Knows for that—the experience of watching it is frequently wonderful. Kore-eda has gotten to the point where even when his work isn’t top-drawer, it’s exceptionally nice to be around.
Film critics Bruce Reid, Richard T. Jameson, and Robert Horton discuss the careers and legacies of actor Warren Oates and director Hector Babenco, praise Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s Our Little Sister (2016), and engage with Oscar Micheaux’s landmark race film Within Our Gates (1920) in the August 2016 edition of Framing Pictures, now available to stream via The Seattle Channel.
These discussions are held in the screening room of Scarecrow Video on the second Friday of every month and are free to attend. The video appears a few weeks later on the Seattle Channel.
The September edition will take place on Friday, September 9 at 7pm at the Scarecrow Video Screening Room. More information at the Framing Pictures Facebook page.
Three adult sisters stand on a small-town road, gazing at the discharge from a nearby chimney. “Smoke from a crematorium is so old-fashioned,” one of them remarks—not as a put-down, but more as a dreamy observation. The ashes inside the chimney are what remains of their father, but the sense of detachment is understandable; he abandoned his family 15 years earlier to be with another woman and have another child. The sisters have come to his town for a dutiful funeral visit. As quickly as possible, they will return to their seaside city of Kamakura, where they share a house.
They will not get away without complications, which is how Hirokazu Kore-eda’s wonderful new film (based on Akimi Yoshida’s award-winning graphic novel Umimachi Diary) takes flight.
Tabloid story, meditative treatment—director Hirokazu Kore-eda has been in this territory before. His masterpiece, Nobody Knows (2004), was based on a news story of children left to fend for themselves when their mother simply abandoned them in their Tokyo apartment. His latest film is also inspired by true accounts of a parental nightmare: Two couples learn that their 6-year-old sons, born on the same day in the same country hospital, were switched at birth. Brought together by the news, the mortified parents must now work out what to do about a very complicated future.
Like Father, Like Son does not spread its time over these characters equally. The focus is on Ryota (Japanese singer/actor Masaharu Fukuyama), a hard-driving architect whose long workday leaves him little time with his wife Midori (Machiko Ono) or their beloved son Keita.
Japanese Railways commissioned writer-director Hirokazu Kore-eda to make I Wish as publicity for the Shinkansen bullet train. In response, the director of Still Walking” one of 2010’s best, delivered a cinematic poem.
Nothing much happens in this happy tribute to the gentle art of being human, unless you count a bunch of immensely likable kids taking a long trip on a bullet train, embarking from innocence to arrive at necessary knowledge of change, loss and death. It’s an exuberant yet tender journey, never descending into saccharine cuteness or manufactured melodrama.
Kore-eda’s slowly unfolding children’s tale vibrates with small, incremental revelations. The rhythm of the film is like breathing, the respirations of family life, old age, childhood — even of the Earth. When grandpa or grandson raises a finger to test which way a volcano’s ash is blowing that day, the two might be measuring the existential currents of I Wish, originally and better-titled Miracle.