Ame agaru (1999)
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Written by Akira Kurosawa and directed by Takashi Koizumi after Kurosawa's death. This is a breathtaking reflection of Kurosawa's early and later storytelling sensabilities. But it is a very complex film, one that upon initial viewing may defy the viewers expectations of the samurai genre and seem simplistic, overly long, or as one reviewer described: unexciting.
This film reminds me very much of Red Beard, another Kurosawa story that while set in feudal Japan is not necessarily a samurai film.
Almost like a play at times, Ame Agaru takes it's time and is all the better for it. There are some excellent sword fights and formal duels in the film but they are not the focus of the film. There's a bit of time depicting the main character silently practicing his sword work in the woods that might bore a number of viewers.
Is this a Kurosawa film? Yes, in that I could easily see him directing this story. There are a number of similarities to his last film, Madadayo. No, in that the direction here is sort of mundane. Kurosawa's distinctive eye is missing. There's a TV movie quality that's sort of unusual for a film like this. However, the actors and the story really do carry this film over and while it's not a masterpiece, it's not a waste of time either if you know what you are getting into.
It is such a lovely movie in its simplicity. There are no evil schemes and plots. No subplots within subplots with twist and suspense building. No massive production with a cast of thousands. No nasty characters that you hate. It is just a sweet simple story telling about an unemployed man (ronin) and his wife.
This movie made me smile as especially the wives. The wife of the Samurai, Tayo, is incredibly sweet. Same with the wife of the lord. Both play the "character" of the Asian wife...quietly supportive while leading the man to understanding with words of wisdom.
Great minimalistic acting. A Samurai Feel Good movie.
I was reluctant to see "Ame agaru" due to a wrong expectation and feeling. I believed the director Takashi Koizumi was an opportunist, using the name of Akira Kurosawa to promote himself in his career. How wrong I was! Indeed, "Ame agaru" is a very beautiful and sensitive feel-good movie and a great homage of Takashi Koizumi to his master Akira Kurosawa. The direction is simply perfect; the performances are stunning, with the actors and actresses showing passion, heart and soul in their interpretations, highlighting Akira Terao and Yoshiko Miyazaki; the locations are simple but beautiful; and the lovely story is wonderful, with a magnificent, optimistic and very human message in the end. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): "Depois da Chuva" ("After the Rain")
While Ihei Misawa is a samurai, he's also a middle-aged man in a career crisis. What does a samurai do with himself when the wars have ended? He looks for a new career where his skills are still useful. His crisis is just like that of a laid-off worker of today, except for the line of work itself. The local lord, played by Shiro Mifune, also has problems that are still faced by modern people -- many of the people who work for him are incompetent or tiresome. The movie does a great job of telling a story that applies to a modern audience, even though it's set 300 years in the past.
Interestingly, although the movie has conflict, it has no major villain characters. (The rivals are all bit parts.) All of the central characters are basically good people. That's a refreshing outlook.
The movie was written by Akira Kurosawa before he died, and directed by his assistant director of 28 years, Takashi Koizumi, with most of the same regular crew. One of the supporting actors is Shiro Mifune, son of Toshirô Mifune, who starred in many of Kurosawa's movies. So in many ways it's a Kurosawa movie, and there's a substantial dedication to Kurosawa at the beginning of the film.
I saw the movie at a Seattle International Film Festival screening, and director appeared in person. Through an interpreter, he said that Kurosawa's son had persuaded him to direct the movie, with the support of many others who had worked with Kurosawa. He also said that he "asked and forced" the Akira Terao to star.
The photography is incredible, the acting excellent, and the main characters are true to life. Even the ending - uncertain - leaves the viewer to provide his own ending
THAT'S how movies should be made!
But the atmosphere of the film is nice, all of it being about casting regrets about the past away, making the most of the present and hoping for a good future. Akira Terao was very good in this movie and now, after seeing it, I can't imagine it with another actor. Shiro Mifune, son of the great Toshiro Mifune, was also of quality acting and borrowed humour and life to the role of the lord.
I won't linger on the subject, I will only say that, even if a samurai movie, the film has very little fights and its idea doesn't really center on them. Some guy here titled his comment Kurosawa Light. Couldn't have said better myself.
This movie really made me a surprise,since it's very optimistic, and with a good message, about helping other people and to forget the bad side of the past, to turn into a better person in the future.:)
Also shows the monster of envy, when other fighters are jealous about misawa's habilities and the fact that he is invited to be the Master of all the fighters and warriors of the landlord.
I recommend it to everybody who wants a nice day!:)
Although Kurosawa did not direct this, he wrote the screenplay, and his assistant of many years did direct it. It is, however, typical Kurosawa brilliance. As in the Seven Samurai, Kurosawa gently reveals life vignettes of both the common man, ronin, and samurai class people. The care for the common man that Kurosawa shows us has always reminded me of Chaucer. We do not often get to see accurate and non-judgmental portraits of the masses of people whose names never get recorded in history. He also accurately counterpoints, his depiction of the lower classes with vignettes from upper class life and decision-making.
The story itself is simple, but highly enjoyable. The dueling scenes are excellently done, although they lack some of the clash and dash dramatics of typical sword fights from any genre - Western or Eastern. They do appear more realistic. But, the real story is in the people. This is a window to Japanese culture for outsiders, and a window to Japanese historical culture for the Japanese. There are many satisfying moments: the party at the inn, the bokken duels, the duel in the forest, the moment the lord achieves insight into our hero's motivation, and the moment our hero's wife speaks out; all stood out in my mind.
As the characters develop, the conflict we see arise is because our hero is a man who is humble. He is a samurai/Buddhist ideal character, in both his ability, and his humility about it. But he is not a stereotype - he is a very real depiction of the kind of motivation and character you would expect from a person who was slightly outside the normal cultural system of Japan at the time. Kurosawa also examined similar characters and motivation in the Seven Samurai (especially the clown, Mifune's character).
The ending is unresolved, probably to get one to think about the characters actions as the movie ends - the ideal, humble man finding internal happiness, opposed to the typical, driven-to-succeed type who is endlessly chasing his goal.
After The Rain is a mediocre film. Not in a bad way, but rather in an uninteresting way.
First, the story is simple, very simple. Let's keep this in mind and pause here for a second.
Second, there are the many parts of the film where Kurosawa would put in some touches of class, some exposition of a more profound aspect of his characters, some haunting sights, some rhythmic pauses to the drama.
After The Rain has none of this; or rather, there are blank spots where Kurosawa would have put something cool which makes his movies into masterpieces, instead here we have nothing but boredom, emptiness, mediocrity and shallowness.
In the end, this is a film from a director who thinks he is Kurosawa, starring an actor who thinks he is Toshiro Mifune, telling a story everyone involved thinks its profound, while it's not.
(Kurosawa had the ability to extract moments of great drama from his actors, that's why he didn't need complicated stories)
So yeah, we appreciate the tribute, but it didn't come out very well.
My final vote: 5/10 Don't bother, there's nothing to see.
My grade: 9/10.
After the Rain follows Ihei Misawa, arguably one of the most noble and generous samurai heroes ever committed to film. He's joined by his loving wife Tayo as they stay at an inn waiting for rain to stop. As you may know, rainy weather was one of Kurosawa's favorite thematic elements, and it played a different role in each of his films. In this movie, Ihei and Tayo, together with some other travelers, bring a great deal of joy to the poor people stranded at the inn. Rain in this movie may therefore symbolize a life obstacle which can be conquered by good will.
Later, Ihei is asked by a lord, who witnessed his skill, to become a fencing instructor for his clan. The lord's men are jealous of Ihei, and tensions between him and them keep escalating. Finally, the lord's upper retainers tell Ihei that he won't be accepted, making him and Tayo travel away. However, as they walk the area, the lord changes his mind and rushes to find Ihei to make amends, realizing that he just lost a man of great skill. However, the ending doesn't state whether or not he finds him, and I couldn't have it any other way. The film ends with Ihei and Tayo admiring the view and being happy for what they are; whether the lord finds Ihei or not is completely irrelevant and out of the picture. Ihei may have lost the position in the clan, but he still has his wife and his virtues. Obviously, this is a humanist film; the type of movies Kurosawa liked to make the most.
The performances are excellent, and there are some familiar faces, like Tatsuya Nakadai, Mieko Harade (from Ran and Dreams) and Toshiro Mifune's son, Shiro. It's also the first Japanese film I've seen so far where the flashbacks are in black and white; usually they're indiscernible from the main timeline. The cinematography is beautiful and offers great photography of both nature and indoor environments, which are often color-coded in yellowish and greenish shades of brown.
After the Rain is a slow-paced, wonderful humanist movie that in my opinion surpasses some of Kurosawa's main works in its simplicity and mood. It leaves you with a happy feeling afterwards and overall the calming tone of it is enough for me to love it. On a second viewing, this may become one of my favorite samurai movies.
Samurai films set at the end of the shogunate usually depict the conflict between a warrior ethos and a settled society, and this film is no exception. Our hero, a ronin (samurai without a settled position or master) traveling with his wife, is trapped by weather at a country inn. His interactions with his fellow travelers, all commoners, and the citizens of the rural area where the inn is located, reveal his sterling character. His interactions with the local daimyo (feudal territorial lord) and his retainers show his brilliance as a swordsman and his utter decency as a human being.
If you are a fan of samurai films you will enjoy this one. If you are a fan of good film making, you will love this film.
The story is simple and focuses primarily on the main character. The few fights that are shown have a very good choreography. The acting is decent and the cinematography is one of the strengths. Throughout the film we are blessed with beautiful nature landscapes.
The film has the ideal running time. Even being a little slow sometimes it does not become boring.