• Unrated, 1 hr. 24 min.
  • Drama, Comedy
  • Directed By:
    Mike Ott
    In Theaters:
    Aug 12, 2011 Limited
    On DVD:
    Apr 10, 2012
  • Variance Films

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Littlerock Reviews

Page 1 of 1
Michael S

Super Reviewer

March 19, 2013
"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.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

July 18, 2013
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.
John B

Super Reviewer

April 7, 2011
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.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

July 18, 2013
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.
Nik M.
August 28, 2012
Simple and to the point, Littlerock is perfect for its length with a very simple message of depicting the differences that create gaps between nationalities and backgrounds. The setting and characters are relatable as it can be assured we have all come across even a moment's worth of a similar situation. Though, the film may be too low-key for some.
Sarfaraz Abbasi
July 3, 2012
I think, I have watched one of excellent/overlooked movies from the year 2011. Directed by Mike Ott, this dynamic plot explores an amazing journey of two Japanese brothers and sisters, who are visiting western portion of Southern California in United States, more accurately they are on the expedition to see the name of their grandfather at Manzanar (site of Japanese-American who were camped there during WWII). When I started watching it, I kept looking at it and forgot I'd had cold-drink with me. I do not wish to sound like..to say that movie should have broken record, had not it not been considered one of overlooked movies; however all I want to say is that, this film deserves an screening by all mates out there. It has got fabulous cinematography; good editing.
August 12, 2011
This evocative, deceptively rich slice of life has its own odd voice, and it never fails to be enjoyable.
April 16, 2012
Watching it somehow reminds me of the feeling when I read the opening chapters of Norwegian Wood - gentle and dream-like. The Cave Singers and Amiina for the soundtrack are percfect. :)
August 19, 2011
Looks awesome......... I grew up out there and it is a depressing place to live.
May 31, 2011
This was a unique film. It reminded me of great indie films in the 70's.Everything about it is unexpected.Unexpected humor.Unexpected threat.Unexpected rewards. Visually barren and claustrophobic at the same time.All the performances are riveting - again in unexpected ways.
November 21, 2010
I saw this yesterday at MOMA in NYC. The first film I have seen in a long time that made me feel something- the characters are authentic and interesting, and the end product is a wonderfully balanced and nuanced piece of cinema. We need more films that depict multicultural perspectives. Great cast, great film.
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