Rhapsody in August (1991)
Perhaps it was because of his age, but Kurosawa left with this film dealing with some ghosts of Japan as well as America. A contemporary story that doesn't try to be anything bigger than it is. A simple tale about a family, and the ghosts of the atom bomb. It might be a common assumption that directors in their later years become more reflective and generally slow their films down. This is certainly the case with Kurosawa, who spent most of his career being more ambitious and working on such an enormous scale that a film this small might seem like the work of a completely different director.
The plot is not too dense. A family in Nagasaki happens to have a rich uncle in Hawaii. He married an American, and his children all speak English and broken Japanese. They are millionares in the pineapple business, and of course their foreign relatives are trying to be especially nice because of it. The patriarch of the Hawaiin family would like to see his little sister once more before he dies. The sister happens to be stubborn, and doesn't even remember her brother, after all she had 10 brothers and sisters. She recognizes that her children are going there simply to suck up to a rich relative, and they could care less about actually seeing their family. However her brother keeps insisting that she go.
The Story is mostly seen through the eyes of her grandchildren who are trying to convince her to take the trip to Hawaii (for selfish reasons as well, they want to go with). Kurosawa seems to have developed some small contempt for members of the adult generation. His story focuses on the young (and presumably innocent) and the elderly. These are the people who see the world as it is, not through filters. They say the truth because that's what it is, whereas the grownups are so worried about offending someone they weave a very pointless web of lies.
I can't say the style fits Kurosawa well. Ozu might have worked wonders with this, but the quiet and lyrical aren't always Kurosawa's strongest qualities. He made one more film after Rhapsody (1993's Madayayo), but it seemed clear to me that his best work by this point was clearly behind him.
Grade C -