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Viggo Mortensen, Off-The-Grid Parent

A new film starring Viggo Mortensen as an off-the-grid parent dominates the weekend’s openings. However, there are other high-quality films not starring Viggo Mortensen that also deserve your attention this weekend. An autistic boy uses Disney animation to re-connect to the world. Three sisters welcome a teenage half-sister into their family in an acclaimed Japanese film. An elderly Korean couple share small pleasures. Finally, two boys set out on a road trip with a literal house on wheels. The weather may be hot, but you can still chill with some good art films.

The Achy-Breaky Hearts

Chinggay is a 30-ish jewelry store manager who laments her single life after seven years of being dateless. Then she attracts the attentions of two different suitors. Ryan is a customer jilted by his girlfriend. Frank is Chinggay’s ex-boyfriend who wants a second chance. Will Chinggay find love with either man or someone else?

Opens July 15 at the Century at Tanforan

Captain Fantastic

Ben (Viggo Mortensen) is the patriarch of a family that lives off the grid in the Pacific Northwest. But when wife Leslie dies, Ben is forbidden from attending the funeral. However, the patriarch and his brood take a road trip to crash Leslie’s funeral to give her the Buddhist cremation ceremony she’s always wanted. Along the way, Ben gets a lesson in what fatherhood truly involves. Written and directed by Matt Ross (Silicon Valley).

Opens July 15 at the AMC Metreon 16 and the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas

Cold War 2

Longman Leung and Sunny Luk direct this sequel to a Hong Kong box office hit about inter-police rivalry. A bungled subway station operation threatens police commissioner Sean Lau (Aaron Kwok)’s job. Shadowy politicos want to replace Lau with rival M.B. Lee (Tony Leung Ka Fai). Meanwhile, an investigating committee headed by legislator Oswald Kan (Hong Kong film legend Chow Yun-Fat) wants answers about the subway incident. With laws being bent and much subterfuge occurring, who will finally come out on top?

Opens July 15 at the AMC Metreon 16

From This Day Forward

Sharon Shattuck’s very personal documentary looks at how one family stays together after one family member transitions. When Shattuck was a teen, her artist father came out as transgender and changed into Trisha. After a lot of friction, Trisha and Shattuck’s heterosexual mother Marcia decided they loved each other too much to get divorced. Now on the eve of her own wedding, Shattuck talks to her parents about Trisha’s transition decision and what kept them together all these years.

Opens July 15 at the Roxie Theatre

Life, Animated

Academy Award winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams’ documentary is based on Ron Suskind’s New York Times best-seller. At age three, Suskind’s son Owen inexplicably went silent thanks to autism. The boy could not communicate his thoughts or feelings until he started immersing himself in such classic Disney animated films as The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. Now Owen is about to take his first steps to independence.

Opens July 15 at the Rafael Film Center, the Shattuck Cinemas and the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas

Microbe And Gasoline

Michel Gondry (The Science Of Sleep) takes the teen road trip movie in unexpected directions. The titular pair are high school social outcasts. Microbe is a very short aspiring cartoon artist. Gasoline so loves to tinker with engines of any sort that he smells of car fuel. Wanting to escape their drab lives, the two boys plan to spend the summer driving by car. But their “car” is a cleverly disguised house-on-wheels powered by a lawnmower motor.

Opens July 15 at the Opera Plaza Cinemas and the Shattuck Cinemas

My Love, Don’t Cross That River

Byong-man Jo and Gye-yeul Kang are still a couple even in their 80s & 90s. They wear traditional Korean clothing, go shopping in the local markets, and even enjoy dance parties. Director Mo-young Jin’s documentary tenderly follows this couple over more than a year, as age and infirmity still hasn’t dimmed their affection for each other.

Opens July 15 at the 4-Star Theatre and the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood

Our Little Sister

Famed Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda adapts Umimachi Diary, a manga by writer/artist Akimi Yoshida (Banana Fish). Sisters Sachi, Yoshino, and Chika live in a seaside town south of Tokyo. At the funeral of their estranged father, the three women meet their shy half-sister Suzu. The orphaned teenager and the three close-knit sisters hit it off. Suzu agrees to live with her new half-sisters. Thus begins a life changing year in the lives of these four women. Winner of 5 Japanese Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Opens July 15 at the Embarcadero Center Cinema

Seoul Searching

Director Benson Lee mixes a John Hughes teen comedy with a touch of Roots. In 1986 Korea, a government program tries to get a group of international high school students to connect with their ancestral heritage. But the teens seem more interested in partying hard and unconcernedly bringing shame to their elders.

Opens July 15 at the Roxie Theatre

So Young 2: Never Gone

In high school, rich heir Cheng Zheng (Kris Wu) falls in love with struggling transfer student Su Yunjin (Liu Yifei). After years of Cheng pursuing Su, the two finally move in together. But the relationship falls apart thanks to their different backgrounds and expectations. Years pass and chance brings Cheng and Su into each others’ lives again. Will the two eventually re-kindle their relationship?

Opens July 15 at the AMC Metreon 16

Sultan

Middle-aged ex-wrestling champion Sultan Ali Khan (Salman Khan) gets coaxed out of retirement to join a private mixed martial arts league. Khan hopes to use the prize money to fulfill his dream of opening a blood bank. The reason for Khan’s unusual dream relates to the reason for his retirement. But can this out-of-shape former wrestler atone for his past mistakes?

Opens July 15 at the AMC Van Ness 14

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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