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Littlerock (2011)


Average Rating: 6.7/10
Reviews Counted: 25
Fresh: 20
Rotten: 5

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 11
Fresh: 9
Rotten: 2

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.


Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 553



Movie Info

A sleepy Los Angeles exurb and its shiftless young residents are seen through the eyes of two Japanese tourists in this intimate evocation of a small town in Southern California where everyone's talking but no one really understands. -- (C) Official Site

Drama , Comedy
Directed By:
Written By:
Atsuko Okatsuka , Mike Ott
In Theaters:
Apr 10, 2012
Box Office:
Variance Films - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Littlerock

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (20) | Rotten (5) | DVD (1)

Ott has explored his theme - how each person's destiny is propelled by the past but left dangling, isolated in a seemingly formless present - with great subtlety.

Full Review… | January 12, 2012
Seattle Times
Top Critic

[Ott's] distilled the town until it floats somewhere between a hangover and a dream.

Full Review… | October 6, 2011
Boston Globe
Top Critic

This evocative, deceptively rich slice of life has its own voice, and it never fails to be enjoyable for several reasons.

Full Review… | September 8, 2011
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

"Littlerock" tells a confident story that knows precisely where it's going.

Full Review… | September 8, 2011
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

An ethereal and ephemeral musing on the art and artifice of communication.

Full Review… | September 1, 2011
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Mike Ott's rambling, mildly engaging micro-budgeted indie.

Full Review… | August 12, 2011
New York Post
Top Critic

A neatly plotted, observational film about being on the outside looking in, and on the inside looking out.

Full Review… | November 11, 2011
Honolulu Star-Advertiser

A restrained but visually arresting film about the various ways in which we reach out to one another, often to no avail.

Full Review… | October 25, 2011
Film Threat

Expectations are subverted, assumptions exploded, and the meaningless nature of words is replaced by the importance of conversation

Full Review… | September 10, 2011
Killer Movie Reviews

Writer-director Mike Ott constructs a cutesy, willfully modest and submissive cultural mash-up, and proclaims it profound, or art, merely by virtue of its construction.

Full Review… | September 2, 2011

A mildly engaging, slight and somewhat breezy slice-of-life drama that's instantly forgettable.

Full Review… | August 13, 2011
NYC Movie Guru

It's always great that movies like this can be made for so little money, but when the results are so dull and derivative, the only real question is "Why bother?"

Full Review… | August 12, 2011

Mumblecore to the core, Littlerock takes an eternity to get started, but eventually gains in (very) low-key interest.

Full Review… | August 11, 2011
Film Journal International

Director Mike Ott's second narrative feature cannily plays its intentions close to the vest.

Full Review… | August 7, 2011
Slant Magazine

A character-driven cross-cultural drama about the adolescent quest for new experiences and the realization of the mysteries that lie behind relationships and reality.

Full Review… | August 4, 2011
Spirituality and Practice

Ott captures with subtlety, wit, and irony the points of view of both the Japanese visitors and the local yokels, sometimes by something as simple as the choice of whether or not to use subtitles.

Full Review… | April 28, 2011
Boston Phoenix

Audience Reviews for Littlerock

"Littlerock" follows two Japanese siblings, Atsuko and Rintaro; out to experience America fist hand. With San Francisco in their sights, a vehicular breakdown leaves them "stranded" in the sleepy, Southern California town. They soon immerse themselves in a group of seemingly directionless twenty-somethings and Atsuko, unable to speak or understand a word of English, inevitable become the object of affection for a few of her new male acquaintances.

"Littlerock" is just about as lo-fi as independent cinema gets, but it nails one thing brilliantly; it makes us feel as lost and culturally isolated as Atsuko and her brother... even though we understand the language of their new confidants. This lack of universal communication and it's frustrations is the reason that the filmmakers decided to tell this particularly low-key yarn, and they nail it.

But as per usually in films like this, there are some cringe-inducing performances littered throughout from non-professional or first time actors, and extended scenes (of boozing and booze induced babel) that linger almost Malick style! These scenes are intentional and are implemented to further our connection to Atsuko in particular, but they are nevertheless tedious and even hard to sit through on occasion. There is an indulgence here responsible for extending what is a very good short film into a feature length one.

The two Japanese leads (Atsuko Okatsuka and Rintaro Sawamoto) however are very solid, as is Cory Zacharia playing a tragic character in love with Atsuko, but unable to express his feelings to her or anyone else for that matter. These three actors are the backbone of the picture, and are the reason to watch it. Zacharia's performance is quite quirky and off-putting until subtle layers are reveled and we realize we know many a people just like him.

For a film so ripe with flaws, "Littlerock" has a conclusion of uncommon emotional weight. It's poetic and quite devastating in it's own way and pretty masterful in it's execution.

Director Mike Ott conducts a noteworthy experiment here, but even at a mere 84 minutes it wears out it's welcome. There are so many interesting elements, from it's concept to it's remarkable ending, that recommending it comes easy. It would have garnered an even stronger recommendation as the short film it deserves to be.

Michael S

Super Reviewer


In "Littlerock," Atsuko(Atsuko Okatsuka, who also co-wrote) and her brother Rintaro(Rintaro Sawamato) have traveled to the United States from Japan to see Manzanar and perhaps time permitting San Francisco. But their car breaks down, forcing them to wait it out for a couple of days in a small town in California. Making matters worse is the party going on next door to their motel room late one night. When Rintaro does not return from telling them to keep it quiet, Atsuko goes after him and ironically enough finds him making new friends. In fact, they find themselves invited to a party the following night by Cory(Cory Zacharia).

"Littlerock" is a pleasant enough slice of life movie that has more to say about America, both good and bad, and sometimes not as subtle as it could, than much larger movies, with a little bit of history thrown in for good measure. First and foremost, what most people conveniently forget is that this is a country of immigrants where knowing English should not be the price of admission.(In fact, I would go one step further to say America should not just be multicultural, but also multilingual.) Atsuko's journey may not be as dramatic as others who have come before her but it is not unimportant that her trip gives her the freedom to make mistakes for the first time without somebody standing over her, as Cory is just slightly more endearing than annoying.

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

It is a slice of Americana that perhaps most Americans would not want to see but Atsuko clearly finds more in a directionless community than any of the sights and sounds of San Francisco. Wonderful personal interactions between characters who communicate without knowing each others' languages.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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