The cinema of Hirokazu Kore-eda has a uniquely measured pace. Conflict takes a long time to be uncovered, even when it has been boiling under the surface for years. Characters rarely talk over each other. Images littered with potent details quietly express a sense of time and place. It's somewhat jarring being met with such an intimate style of drama that never hurries and/or appears to judge.
Our Little Sister, a lovely example of vintage Kore-eda, explores tensions great and small that exist between different generations of a fractured family. In the opening sequence, three grown sisters are informed that their estranged father has passed away, leaving behind a 15-year-old daughter named Suzu (Suzu Hirose). Instead of alienating the teenager, eldest Sachi (Haruka Ayase), with the approval of her siblings Yoshino (Masami Nagasawa) and Chika (Kaho), impulsively invites her to live with them in their large old house.
Small details of everyday life contain historical importance and emotional resonance. Recipes and pictures recall memories of an undefined past, blurred by the hazy recollection of childhood. These objects act as entry points for Kore-eda to uncover a shared familial experience, albeit one that harbors very different individual perspectives.
Each sister has her own quaint melodramas going on in life, from Sachi's affair with a married doctor to Suzu's guilt over her mother's infidelity. It stings when the lovely young woman breaks down and finally confesses, "someone is always hurt because I exist."
Kore-eda allows these painful exchanges to gain complexity over time, like the sister's traditional batches of plum wine fermenting under the floorboards. Our Little Sister, which opens Friday, July 22, presents a litany of lyrical moments and potent exchanges that create a mosaic of collective empathy. It teaches us that the kindness we express matters a great deal to others, right now and for the generations to come.
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie: The famous British television comes to the big screen with Edina and Patsy causing further booze-infused trouble and retreating for a getaway in the South of France.
Café Society: In Woody Allen’s latest comedy, a nebbish New Yorker (Jessie Eisenberg) travels to Hollywood in the 1930s and finds unrequited love in the form of a charming girl Friday (Kristen Stewart).
Equals: Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart star in this Sci-fi drama about two people who fall in love while living in an emotionless dystopia. Screens through Thursday, July 28, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Ice Age: Collision Course: Somehow, some way, Manny, Diego and company are still fending off extinction in this indestructible kiddy franchise.
Life, Animated: A documentary that follows one struggling family who turns Disney animated movies into tool for expression language of love, loss, kinship and brotherhood.
Lights Out: Horror film that follows two siblings being possessed by the same evil spirit connected with their mother.
Men Go to Battle: Two brothers try to keep their estate from crumbling in 1861 Kentucky at the dawn of the Civil War. Screens through Thursday, July 28, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Microbe and Gasoline: In Michel Gondry’s latest whimsical comedy, two young friends embark on a road trip across France in a car they’ve built themselves.
Our Little Sister: Three sisters living in an old house in Japan learn that their estranged father has been raising a 15-year-old daughter. Upon his death, the women invite the teenager to live with them, bringing up wells of emotions and past traumas in the process. Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda.
Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made: This documentary takes you behind the scenes of 1989’s fan film Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation. Screens through Thursday, July 28, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Star Trek Beyond: Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and his crew encounter a new ruthless enemy while exploring the outer reaches of the galaxy in the USS Enterprise.
One Time Only
Return of the Jedi: Underrated. Those Ewoks are amazing. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 20, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
The Big Sleep: Humphrey Bogart stars as cynical P.I. Philip Marlowe who is hired by a rich family only to find a pattern of murder and corruption. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 21 and 22, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
The Final Girls: A grieving young woman is pulled into the world of her deceased mother’s most famous horror movie. Screens at 11:55 p.m. on Saturday, July 23, at the Ken Cinema.
Pretty Woman: Julia Roberts plays a hooker with a heart of gold to Richard Gere’s wealthy benefactor looking for love. Screens at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 23 and 24, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Beverly Hills Cop: Eddie Murphy’s pivotal performance comes as a wise-talking Detroit cop who travels to Los Angeles to solve his friend’s murder. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 26, at the Arclight La Jolla.
Kickass: An unpopular high school student decides to dress up in a costume and become a vigilante, fighting against a worsening citywide crime spree. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 27, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.