Umi yori mo mada fukaku

I almost finished with my tax return and walked over to the theatre to take a break and to see “After the Storm,” a Japanese film directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, known for “Our Little Sister.”  It showed a middle-aged man named Ryota, struggling to make ends meet with his private investigation job.  He squanders money on gambling and can’t fulfill the promise of his past glory as a prize-winning novelist.  He has an aging mother named Yoshiko, an ex-wife named Kyoko, and a son named Shingo.  Ryota was a person of my generation, and his mother is about the same age as my mother, although my mother turned into an elderly and nearly helpless person quickly following health problems.  This is a different kind of picture of Japan than what I saw growing up.  The people tell lies, and married couples get divorces.  You notice the transportation in a movie like this or “Personal Shopper.”  The train looked cleaner than the one I ride regularly.  Ryota is irresponsible to the point of losing some of our sympathy.  He takes his son out to eat, buying nothing for himself because he doesn’t have the money, says that he isn’t hungry, and then eats the kid’s onion rings.  Critics say that this is a subtle film, although I didn’t see it that way.  I didn’t know that the Mizuno brand of sports equipment was the one to get in Japan.  Recently, a friend told me that I should buy a Rawlings baseball glove.  I couldn’t see how Ryota’s co-worker and boss could put up with Ryota’s gambling.  The movie had amusing moments and touched on the feelings running through a family very effective, although it all felt stubbornly lacking in big drama.  There was no confrontation.  It was more like the lack of confrontation, with a lot of symbolism, with the tree or the game of Life or the shelter of the slide during the storm.  I thought that Shingo wasn’t showing me much of what he was made of.  He tried to draw walks when he played baseball, an avoidance of failure rather than action, reflecting his father’s behavior.  Kyoko made me think of Meg Tilly of years past.  There was a lot in the movie that was worth watching, although like “Our Little Sister,” it runs a bit too long.  During the last fifteen or twenty minutes, I really wanted the movie to wrap everything up and end.  I would say that I did like this film more than “Our Little Sister.”  I could relate to quite a few things that were in this story, although I do not buy lottery tickets.  The storm at the end of the film made me think of this winter we had with the rain that never seemed to end.  This was a good film, a bit too sweet at times, but I recommend it and think that it will hold up over time.  Some of the people who died on April 12 include Clara Barton (1912), Arthur Freed (1973), Joe Louis (1981), and Marilyn Chambers (2009).  Today is a birthday for Saoirse Ronan (23), Vince Gill (60), Andy Garcia (61), David Cassidy (67), David Letterman (70), Ed O’Neill (71), and Beverly Cleary (101).

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