April 15 2015 03:13 PM

New indie starring Rinko Kikuchi leads our rundown of movies screening around town

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

Draped in an eye-gouging hotel blanket and a bright red hoodie, Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) stands out amid the snow-packed Minnesota landscape. She’s freezing and broke, but continues to push on toward her goal of finding the very spot where Steve Buscemi’s character in Fargo hid a briefcase full of cash. Having traveled all the way from Tokyo to complete this quest, Kumiko is understandably perturbed when kind and eccentric Americans keep offering assistance.

David and Nathan Zellner’s Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is about multiple types of social barriers. Their heroine leaves Japan for America, but not before we’ve seen ample proof of why her extreme unhappiness has evolved into mental illness. An outcast at work, Kumiko also feels isolated from her berating mother, whom she sporadically speaks with on the phone. The subject of their conversation always revolves around marriage.

Kumiko’s meticulous obsession with the hidden treasure in Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1996 dark comedy speaks to the powerful impact one frame can have on a viewer. She studies the composition, even drawing a map of the barbed-wire fencing that runs the length of the shot. The image offers Kumiko purpose, something language and friendship cannot.

Along the way she meets a cadre of yanks, each forlorn and lonely in their own way. America is seen as an icy, comatose country, where harsh landscapes forbid its inhabitants from moving too fast. Kumiko’s desperate momentum often gets stuck as a result. In the end, she becomes a hidden treasure herself, waiting to be discovered when the time is right.

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, which opens Friday, April 17, casts a strange spell. It combines beguiling sadness and deadpan earnestness to tell the story of a young woman who will be forever seeking an escape.


Fifth Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival Spring Showcase: Sixteen new Asian films from nine countries will make their San Diego premieres during this amazing cinema showcase, beginning with an opening night tailgate party from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 16, at Ultrastar Mission Valley Cinemas. The fest continues through April 23 before moving to Hoover High School April 24 and 25 in honor of the showcase’s Cinema Little Saigon retrospective.

Desert Dancer: An ambitious young man risks everything to start a new dance company despite the politically volatile climate of his home country of Iran. 

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter: A young Japanese woman travels to America searching for a briefcase full of cash that was hidden in the snow during 1996’s Fargo

Lambert and Stamp: This documentary looks at the unlikely partnership between two aspiring filmmakers who ended up producing one of the greatest rock bands in history: The Who. 

Monkey Kingdom: A documentary about one newborn monkey and its mother attempting to survive the social hierarchy of the Temple Troop, a group of monkeys who live in a series of ruins deep in the jungles of South Asia. 

True Story: James Franco stars as a murder suspect who has stolen the identity of a disgraced New York Times reporter played by Jonah Hill. Weird casting. 

Unfriended: The Facebook horror film you knew was coming but didn’t think would be here quite this soon. 

One Time Only 

Drop Dead Gorgeous: Denise Richards and Kirsten Dunst star in this dark comedy about the depravity of beauty pageant competitions. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, at the Landmark Hillcrest Cinemas. 

Calvary: A Catholic priest (Brendan Gleeson) living in Ireland has his life threatened by a parishioner, and then decides to begin a week of self-reflection that could change his life. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, at Scripps Ranch Library. 

I am a Girl: A documentary that explores the lives of six young girls experiencing the trials and tribulations of growing up. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, at La Jolla Village Cinemas.

Office Space: How many pieces of flair do you have to wear at work? Screens at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.

Italy, Love It or Leave It: A disillusioned couple gives themselves six months to fall in love with their country again, venturing out on a road trip that will change their lives forever. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 16, at the Museum of Photographic Arts. 

Big Eyes: Artist Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) watches as her husband Walter (Christoph Waltz) takes credit for her work, a series of paintings that eventually become a worldwide phenomenon. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 17 and 18, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills. 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Tim Curry rules every second of this wild oddity about a couple who takes a wrong turn and ends up on the doorstep of a vampy madman. Screens at 11:55 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at the Ken Cinema.

Capital: Costa-Gavras directs this thrilling drama about the Machiavellian battle between a French banker and a ruthless hedge-fund manager. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 20, at the San Diego Central Library in East Village. 

Friday: What novel programming. Screens on Monday, April 20, at various San Diego area theaters. Visit fathomevents.com for more information. 

The Imitation Game: Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) works with a team of scientists to solve the Nazi enigma code during WW II. Screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 21, at the Point Loma / Hervey Branch Library. 

I Origins: A molecular biologist makes a startling discovery that will change the world. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 22, at the Mission Valley Public Library. 

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: The story of a young boy and the alien that changed his life. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 22, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. 

Now Playing 

Havana Curveball: A young and enthusiastic teenager decides to create a grand plan of supplying Cuba with baseballs after being inspired by the holy words associated with his Bar Mitzvah. 

Kill Me Three Times: After a botched assignment, a professional hitman played by Simon Pegg gets wrapped up in three different tales of murder, blackmail and revenge. 

Mr. Kaplan: An older Uruguayan man of Jewish descent suspects a fellow community member of being a runaway Nazi, and enlists the help of a retired police officer to investigate. 

Ned Rifle: The final leg of Hal Hartley’s trilogy that includes 1997’s Henry Fool and 2006’s Fay Grim, this drama/absurdist comedy tells the story of a young man who sets out to take revenge on his criminal father. 

The Longest Ride: An older man reflects back on his life while he’s trapped in a crashed car. 

The Salt of the Earth: Wim Wenders and Julian Ribeiro Salgado’s documentary examines the life and work of famed photographer and activist Sebastião Salgado. 

White God: An army of dogs wreaks havoc all across a European city after one particular canine is cast out by the father of its owner, a young girl named Lili. 

An Honest Liar: This documentary explores the worldview and life of James Randi, renowned stage magician and skeptic of the paranormal.

Danny Collins: Al Pacino plays an aging rock star who discovers a 40-year-old letter written to him by John Lennon, the contents of which force him to reassess his life. 

Furious 7: The criminal pit crew led by Vin Diesel and Paul Walker is back and ready to battle with Jason Statham’s villain in this globetrotting action film that is sure to have some out-of-this-world stunts.

While We’re Young: Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts play insecure and bored 40-something’s whose life together gets a boost after meeting a young hipster couple (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried). 

Woman in Gold: Helen Mirren plays an elderly Jewish women who, with the help of a young lawyer (Ryan Reynolds), attempts to reclaim the possessions stolen from her by the Nazis during WWII. 

Get Hard: A white-collar criminal (Will Ferrell) bound for San Quentin enlists the help of a smooth-talking friend (Kevin Hart) to prepare him for life behind bars. 

Home (3D): An alien on the run from his own species lands on Earth and makes friends with an adventurous young girl trying to find herself.  

Serena: Bradley Cooper stars as a logging baron trying to make it rich in Depression-era North Carolina. His business starts to crumble after meeting a mysterious young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) with a traumatic past.

Seymour: An Introduction: This tender documentary about pianist Seymour Bernstein doubles as a passionate love story about the power of craft and music. 

The Hunting Ground: Investigative documentary filmmaker Kirby Dick looks at the wave of sexual assaults on college campuses across the United States.  

Merchants of Doubt: Robert Kenner’s documentary about pundits-for-hire tells an unspeakable truth about corporate malfeasance in America today.

The Divergent Series: Insurgent: Super-revolutionary Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) confronts the powerful alliance that threatens to tear her society apart. 

The Gunman: Sean Penn plays a former special-forces soldier who must clear his name after his old compatriots try to frame him. 

’71: During a violent battle in the middle of Belfast, an English solider is left behind to fend for himself against a hostile community. 

Ballet 422: Jody Lee Lipes’ documentary goes backstage at New York City Ballet to watch the process of an exciting new choreographer named Justin Peck. 

Cinderella: Kenneth Branagh’s lavish live-action retelling of the classic fairy tale stars Lily James as the servant stepdaughter who wins the heart of a dashing prince. 

Deli Man: Hungry? This delicious-looking documentary takes a look at the history of delicatessens in New York City and the United States at large. 

Run All Night: A former hit man (Liam Neeson) must go back to his old ways to save his son from a mafia boss out who’s for revenge.  

Chappie: Neill Blomkamp (District 9) directs this sci-fi film about a police robot who’s reprogrammed to think and feel for himself, drawing the wrath of his totalitarian overlords. 

The Salvation: Starring Mads Mikkelsen as a Danish immigrant seeking revenge for the death of his family, this western set in the 1870s echoes the work of Leone and Eastwood.  

The Second Best Marigold Hotel: The long-awaited, much-anticipated sequel to the movie you never thought would get a sequel, this time sporting the charms of Richard Gere. 

Timbuktu: This Oscar-nominated drama by Abderrahmane Sissako depicts the oppression of a Malian town under siege by Islamic militants. 

Unfinished Business: Three hard-working business associates travel to Europe, hoping to close a massive deal, only to get sidetracked by numerous distractions involving booze and women. 

Focus: Will Smith and Margot Robbie talk wise and look sexy as grifters embarking on one last con job. It’s directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris).

Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem: A distraught Israeli woman spends years in a rabbinical court trying to obtain a divorce from her well-respected husband. 

The Lazarus Effect: Olivia Wilde stars in this thriller about a team of medical students who discover a way to bring back the dead. From the looks of the creepy trailer, this was not the best idea. 

Leviathan: A land dispute in a rural Russian town escalates quickly, leaving a family in ruin and reinforcing the corruption wielded by government and religious institutions. Director Andrei Zvyagintsev updates The Book of Job with striking force.

Red Army: Documentary about the Soviet Union’s famed Red Army hockey team, as seen through the eyes of the squad’s leader.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2: In order to save a friend who’s been shot, the Hot Tub gang jumps back into the time machine and begins messing with the past.

McFarland, U.S.A.: Kevin Costner stars as a cross-country coach in a small California town who takes a team of Latino athletes and transforms them into championship contenders. Disney strikes again. 

The Duff: Bianca (Mae Whitman), a teenager who’s been labeled unattractive by her more popular friends, decides to lead a social revolution that will undermine the pecking order at her high school. 

The Last Five Years: Richard LaGravenese adapts the famous musical about a struggling actress (Anna Kendrick) and her novelist lover (Jeremy Jordan) who experience the highs and lows of a volatile relationship. 

What We Do in the Shadows: Four vampires living in modern-day New Zealand struggle to find happiness and friendship in Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s hilarious mockumentary.

Fifty Shades of Grey: The perfect Valentine’s Day present for your masochistic significant other. 

Kingsman: The Secret Service: Colin Firth leads a team of British secret agents against a maniacal bad guy played by Samuel L. Jackson. 

Seventh Son: Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore team up in the craziest sequel to The Big Lebowski that you could possibly imagine.  

Jupiter Ascending: Have you ever hoped to experience Channing Tatum in full eye shadow and Mila Kunis as a world-saving goddess? Andy and Lana Wachowski’s long-delayed sci-fi opus will be your chance. 

Humpback Whales: Experience the awe-inspiring and diverse world of the humpback whale, which 50 years ago was on the verge of extinction. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of the Water: “Making waves in our world.” That tagline says it all, really. 

Still Alice: Columbia University professor Alice Howland (Julianne Moore) is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and must come to grips with her own fading memory and mortality.

Song of the Sea: Merging folklore and fairy tale, Tomm Moore’s gorgeous animated film tells the story of a brother and sister who get swept up into a fantasy world of selkies, sprites and giants. Screens at Reading Gaslamp Cinemas.

A Most Violent Year: When his business is threatened by a string of armed robberies, the owner of a New York City gas company (Oscar Isaac) must adapt to the volatile surroundings to survive. 

American Sniper: Clint Eastwood’s unflinching and critical biopic of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), who became the deadliest sniper during four tours in Iraq.

Paddington: Traveling from Peru, a young bear arrives in London hoping to find a home. There he meets the Brown family, who offer him a temporary safe haven. 

The Wedding Ringer: Who best to impress your new in-laws than a loud, vivacious Kevin Hart? Josh Gad’s shy young groom-to-be agrees.

Selma: Martin Luther King (David Oyelowo) attempts to create voter reform in Selma, Alabama, a hotbed of racism and disenfranchisement.

Taken 3: Liam Neeson reprises his role as the badass who keeps losing family members to kidnappings. Maybe third time’s a charm? 

Into the Woods: Beware the Wolf, Sondheim. Beware the Wolf. 

The Imitation Game: Benedict Cumberbatch stars as real-life code breaker Alan Turing, who led a squad of British mathematicians in breaking the Enigma code during World War II.

Unbroken: Angelina Jolie’s sophomore effort examines the life of Olympic athlete and World War II prisoner of war Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) who overcame extreme odds to survive a Japanese internment camp.

Wild: Based on the best-selling novel, this drama tells the story of Cheryl Strayed, who trekked more than 1,000 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail to reassess her troubled life. 

Foxcatcher: Bennett Miller’s dark sports film tells the tragic true story of the Schultz brothers (Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum), wrestlers who became forever entwined with the wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune (Steve Carell).

The Theory of Everything: Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) is diagnosed with motor-neuron disease just as he’s graduating with a doctorate degree in physics from Cambridge and starting a new life with his wife (Felicity Jones).

Birdman: A burnt-out superhero actor (Michael Keaton) tries to mount a play on Broadway in order to prove his worth. It co-stars Naomi Watts, Emma Stone and Andrea Riseborough.

Whiplash: A sadistic music teacher tortures a young drummer at a posh New York City conservatory. 

Hidden Universe: Blast off into the stratosphere with this documentary that uses real images captured from telescopes to examine the vast reaches of space. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. 

Journey to the South Pacific: Let the glorious scale of IMAX take you to the tropical islands of West Papua, where life under the sea is just as lush and vibrant as it is on shore. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.