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Girl, You’ll Be A Kumiko Soon

Rinko Kikuchi’s Kumiko is the most intriguing of the lead actress performances seen among this week’s opening films. Karidja Toure’s turn as a troubled 16-year-old in Girlhood would be the more urgent performance to catch. For those who prefer more traditional versions of womanhood, there’s always Let’s Get Married or Effie Gray. However, I suspect Effie scripter and actress Emma Thompson doesn’t endorse its lead character’s hewing to the “be there, but be silent” role.

Effie Gray

Emma Thompson writes and stars in this biopic set in Victorian England. Gray (Dakota Fanning) is the beautiful wife of renowned art critic John Ruskin. Yet in the social circles Gray moves in, a woman’s role is supposed to be that of silent furniture. But in an age which fetishized social suppression, Gray’s voice cannot be silenced forever.

Opens April 3 at the AMC Van Ness 14 and the Embarcadero Center Cinema

Girlhood

Acclaimed director Celine Sciamma (Tomboy) takes viewers into the life of 16-year-old Marieme. She lives in a sketchy French neighborhood and has a home life dominated by a tyrannical older brother. Marieme’s hopeless future reverses when she falls in with a girl gang and learns self-confidence from hanging out with them. But can she turn her new sense of self into a future?

Opens April 3 at the Presidio Theatre

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

The Zellner Bros. tell the odd tale of a Japanese Office Lady who embarks on a bizarre American treasure hunt. Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) decides to leave her mundane Tokyo life and beloved rabbit Bunzo behind to head to North Dakota to search for a suitcase containing an unrecovered fortune in ransom money. The Office Lady’s information source is the Coen Brothers “documentary” Fargo. Needless to say, what happens to Kumiko in America turns out to be far more dangerous than life in the movies.

Opens April 3 at the Opera Plaza Cinemas and the Shattuck Cinemas

Let’s Get Married

Director Liu Jiang’s comedy adapts to the big screen the popular Chinese TV series of the same name about four women looking for Mr. Right. The women in question are a bridal boutique owner, a violinist, an airport employee, and a successful business woman.

Opens April 3 at the AMC Metreon 16 and the Century 20 Daly City

Ned Rifle

Indie auteur Hal Hartley concludes his Grim family trilogy with this new film. Ned Rifle is the son of Henry Fool and Fay Grim. He’s determined to kill Fool for ruining Grim’s life. But the presence of the sexy and troublesome Susan, who has a pre-Grim connection to Fool, seriously undermines Rifle’s plans.

Opens April 3 at the Roxie Theater

The Salt Of The Earth

Continent-hopping photographer Sebastiao Salgado has spent four decades capturing on film man’s inhumanity to man. Now his new photography project takes him across continents to photograph wild beautiful places which have never known the tread of humanity’s footprint. Directed in part by legendary German director Wim Wenders, this film was one of five nominated for a 2015 Best Documentary Feature Oscar.

Opens April 3 at the Embarcadero Center Cinema and the Shattuck Cinemas

While We’re Young

Noah Baumbach’s (Frances Ha) new comedy concerns the friendship that develops between two couples: a late-40s filmmaker and his wife (Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts) and a free-spirited hipster couple half their age (Amanda Seyfried and Adam Driver). The chance to recapture their youth leads the older couple to spend as much time as possible with the younger couple. ┬áBut can such a friendship truly endure despite such a pronounced age gap?

Opens April 3 at the Century San Francisco Centre 9 and the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas

White God

This 2014 Cannes Film Festival prize-winner starts out as a tale of a dog separated from his beloved human. 13-year-old Lili is forced to surrender her mixed-breed dog Hagen to The State because the canine’s heritage makes it “unfit.” But Lili is determined to re-unite with Hagen. Meanwhile, other unwanted and unloved dogs roam the streets and animal control centers in a band led by Hagen. Less a sentimental tale and more a political metaphor, Kornel Mundruzco’s film may make viewers think twice about mistreating dogs and the “less helpless.”

Opens April 3 at the Embarcadero Center Cinemas

Woman In Gold

In this docudrama, Helen Mirren plays Maria Altmann, a Holocaust survivor who decides to sue the Austrian government to recover artwork stolen from her family by the Nazis. These art pieces include the famed Klimt painting “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I.” Needless to say, Altmann faces an upward battle.

Now at the Albany Twin, the AMC Bay Street 16, the AMC Van Ness 14, the Century San Francisco Centre 9, and the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas

The Wrecking Crew

If you were a fan of the West Coast Sound of the 1960s and the early 1970s, then you’ve heard session musicians The Wrecking Crew provide backbeat and melody behind some of that period’s greatest #1 hits. Director Denny Tedesco, son of the group’s late leader Tommy Tedesco, retells the story of the group and their hit-making work with talents including Nat King Cole, Nancy Sinatra, and The Beach Boys. So get set to revisit some classics of Baby Boomer music.

Now screening at the Opera Plaza Cinemas and the Shattuck Cinemas

About the Author

I’m a film reviewer for the Beyond Chron blog. Agnes Varda and Hirokazu Kore-eda are among my favorite filmmakers. I occasionally break down and watch a good action film…but don’t tell anyone.

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