Some films have messages that might as well be emblazoned on their posters — and sometimes are — while others remain something of a puzzle to the end. “The Sower,” the debut feature by painter-turned-filmmaker Yosuke Takeuchi, falls into the latter category. Screened at Nippon Connection, Camera Japan and other festivals here and abroad, it was inspired by Takeuchi’s artistic idol, Vincent Van Gogh, as well as by events in Takeuchi’s own life.

But while watching this gentle-spirited — if disturbing — film, I was reminded of Johnny Appleseed, a semilegendary figure who wandered across early 19th-century America planting apple trees, while dressed in rags and never harming a living being.

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