A woman looks back on her family's life in Tokyo before and during WWII. A maid arrives from the countryside to work for an upper middle class family. She fits in well, but everyone's emotions are stirred up with the arrival of a student.
It is eighteenth century Japan and the residents of a poor town lead a typically meagre life. Then nine residents, which include Juzaburo, hatch a scheme to improve their lots by running a ... See full summary »
After Satoru Watarai graduated from elementary school, he dropped out of school and decided to live within his apartment complex, never to venture outside. Satoru Watari then meets his old ... See full summary »
Shimura Kingo fails his duty to protect the life of the Shogun's chief minister, and spends his life tracking down the assassins. However, all but one of the assassins die before Kingo can reach them. Still, Kingo presses on.
Nanami is an apathetic, part-time junior high school teacher, whose only solace comes from connecting with others on "Planet", a new social network service. One day, a young man named ... See full summary »
A husband (Isao Hashizume) and wife (Kazuko Yoshiyuki) have been married for 50 years. For her birthday, the husband asks the wife what she wants for her birthday present. She replies that ... See full summary »
Popular actor Rengo Shiraki (Yuto Nakajima) dies suddenly. Due to his sudden death, unpopular actor Daiki Kawata (Masaki Suda) attracts the spotlight due to his close friendship with Rengo.... See full summary »
Ichiko lived in a big city, but goes back to her small hometown Komori, located on a mountain in the Tohoku region. She is self-sufficient. Ichiko gains energy living among nature and eating foods she makes from seasonal ingredients.
If you've read the title to this film, you already know everything you need to about it. It has apples. It may have a miracle. The miracle may involve the apples. From that, you'll probably be able to extrapolate that -- like 99% of the other Japanese G-rated dramas, it will be the story of a hapless dreamer with a heart of gold who must overcome every adversity to be able to prove his worth to those around him and to save at least one family member from an illness. There will be tears. There will be innocent children Who Must Be Helped. There will be a beautiful and virtuous woman who will stand by her man. There will be townfolk who don't understand. This sort of film was made by the hundreds in Hollywood in the 1930s through '50s, which makes "Miracle Apples" all the odder, given it being made in 2013.
Yes, I realize that it's (loosely) based upon a true story. But does it have to recycle every hackneyed plot device typical to such movies? Does it have to telegraph every turn of the plot? The protagonist is so earnestly, steadfastly stupid that I found myself enjoying his failure after failure, indignity after indignity. This is partly because star Sadao Abe can be effective in eccentric roles, such as "Ichi the Unicorn" in "Shimotsuma Monogatari" (AKA "Kamikaze Girls"), but he is simply not a believable dramatic actor. His modes are binary; either shouting and nearly wetting himself with enthusiasm or morose and self-flagellating; either way, he's always turned up to eleven.
I give the film three stars for the following: a few good supporting cast members -- particularly Tsutomu Yamazaki as the father-in-law, some fantastic scenery of rural Japan, and a good overall message about organic farming -- but not about a man subjecting his family to a decade of needless poverty, given that organic farming practices were already in use in Europe and America from which he could've learned much, had he bothered to research that.
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