To celebrate the release of new film After the Storm in cinemas 2nd June, from award-winning director (Cannes Jury Prize – 2013 Like Father, Like Son) and undeniable master of realism in Japanese cinema Kore-eda Hirokazu, we take a look back at critically acclaimed Japanese cinema from over the past 80 years that explore the hard truth of real life. Included below is a suggested list of films to help reflect on the style that’s now become almost synonymous with the name Kore-eda.
After the Storm follows prize-winning author Ryota, who while dwelling on his past glory, wastes the money he makes as a private detective on gambling and can barely pay child support. After the death of his father, his ageing mother and beautiful ex-wife seem to be moving on with their lives. Renewing contact with his initially distrusting family, Ryota struggles to take back control of his existence and to find a lasting place in the life of his young son – until a stormy summer night offers them a chance to truly bond again.
After the Storm (2017)
Directed by: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Synopsis: After the death of his father, a private detective struggles to find child support money and reconnect with his son and ex-wife.Sometimes life offers you an opportunity at a second chance in unique ways and you’ve got to grab those chances or lose everything forever.
Still Walking (2008)
Directed by: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Synopsis: A portrait of a family over roughly 24 hours as they commemorate the death of the eldest son.You could say this is one movie that shows how much Ozu inspired Kore-eda. The death of any child before a parent is one grief no parent can forget, grief affects us all and there is always something that ties families together in dark times.
Tokyo Sonata (2008)
Directed by: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Synopsis: An ordinary Japanese family slowly disintegrates after its patriarch loses his job at a prominent company.Unemployment is nothing to be ashamed off, it happens to the best of people, this movie showcases the impact of unemployment when the main breadwinner loses the job. Sadly this is happening to thousands of families just now whilst those in wealth thrive, surprised there hasn’t been more Uk based stories thanks to the inhumane effect thanks to current conservative government cruel policy.
Directed by: Yojiro Takita
Synopsis: A newly unemployed cellist takes a job preparing the dead for funerals.This was Japan’s first ever Oscar winner for Best Foreign Movie. A movie explores rituals and death, from those who handle funerals to our overall general feelings to death. Amazing to think an Oscar-winning movie struggled to get any distributor in Japan.
Memories of Tomorrow (2006)
Directed by: Yukihiko Tsutsumi
Synopsis: The early onset of Alzheimer’s disease ruins the life of a successful businessman.A Masterful performance from Ken Watanabe, this cruel disease doesn’t discriminate whose life it chooses to destroy.
Crying Out Love in the Centre of the World (2004)
Directed by: Isao Yukisada
Synopsis: While searching for his fiancee Ritsuko, Sakutarou rediscovers through flashbacks the void deep within him caused by the events from his high school days.Love works in mysterious ways and sometimes an event sparks of what could have been.
Floating Weeds (1959)
Directed by: Yasujirô Ozu
Synopsis: The head of a Japanese theatre troupe returns to a small coastal town where he left a son who thinks he is his uncle and tries to make up for the lost time, but his current mistress grows jealous.An early glimpse into the world of one of the cinema’s greatest filmmakers and the evolution of his visual style. A simple plot that gives a unique insight into the highs and lows of everyday life.
Late Chrysanthemums (1954)
Directed by: Mikio Naruse
Synopsis: A retired geisha becomes a wealthy money-lender, collecting money with a cold heart from even her fellow geisha.You could say this movie is all about greed and addiction for money especially as it moulds the ageing geisha’s lives. Delivered in several short stories, a movie regarded as one of Mikio Naruse’s best ever movies.
Directed by: Akira Kurosawa
Synopsis: A bureaucrat tries to find a meaning in his life after he discovers he has terminal cancer.A filmmaker is known more for his legendary Samurai movies, shows off his compassionate side with an exploration into death and what it means to be alive.
Late Spring (1949)
Directed by: Yasujiro Ozu
Synopsis: Noriko is twenty-seven years old and still living with her widowed father. Everybody tries to talk her into marrying, but Noriko wants to stay at home caring for her father. The first movie of Ozu’s ‘Noriko Trilogy’, a landmark movie that’s a real life depiction of the ordinary lives of the working class man and woman.