A Movie In Which Not Much Happens

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26 Responses

  1. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    The audiences for Our Little Sister are not big and as seems typical with these kinds of movies, I was the youngest person in the theater by about 25-30 years. Maybe more. Do people not like movies like Our Little Sister because they rely on emotion and personal growth instead of plot? Are we this addicted to the blockbuster?

    Here’s another hypothesis. The death of newspapers has killed off this kind of movie, because it’s very difficult to find out about it. The older generation maybe has been slower to embrace the internet, and possibly still looks at newspapers, where you can see ads for this kind of thing. Which, by the way, never had a big audience, but it had a sustaining one.

    In-theater art film has been hit by this, and by the existence of streaming. Weirdly, it’s much easier to buy stuff like this on DVD or BluRay than it is to find it on a streaming service. And when you can find it, the cost of one showing is nearly as much as buying the DVD. That doesn’t make sense to me.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      Maybe. I love Hirokazu movies but I am pretty sure I heard about the release of Our Little Sister on the Internet and then looked up the release dates. I am not sure how.

      What does happen though is that movies like Our Little Sister are released on a slow-plan. They get released in NYC and LA and then spread to other cities instead of being released on several thousand screens as once. I am not sure for the reason of keeping this tradition. It used to be that prints were expensive and the movie would have to go around in the mail but that is not true anymore.

      The ads is a fair point.Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

        You live here in the Bay Area, and I wonder if you even know what “the pink section” is. Published by the SF Chronicle on Fridays it was an arts insert printed on pink-colored newsprint. It was a vital tool in finding out what sort of art/film/theater/concerts were going on.

        I keep wondering if there isn’t some way to make an internet-based business that fills that hole.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

          I think they called it Datebook now. Can’t remember if it is on pinkpaper. I don’t think it is.

          Another issue is that I just might be more of a cinephile in that I believe in going to the cinema. This is contrary to present norms which says that movie theatres are for big spectacle and anything else can be viewed on a home screen. I don’t quite get the arguments here but I might be a big old romantic.Report

        • The original pink section was a full, if tabloid-sized, section of the Sunday Chron, which would generally run 40-60 pages, and covered art, movies, plays, books, etc. It had a counterpart that my family called the white section (even though everything else but the Sporting Green was also white) that did long-form articles of the week’s news. Then there was the Sunday Punch, which was an extended op-ed section.

          Man, I miss a local paper that’s worth reading.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

          My Sunday Times comes with a monthly arts newsletter for Bay Area arts.

          I am not sure there is a way for an on-line publication to do that kind of arts coverage. The Internet seems drawn to nostalgia. I think nostalgia is fine in doses but I continue to be awed by how much of the Internet is dominated by childhood nostalgia and there are whole communities of adults in their 30s and 40s endlessly talking about the cartoons of their youth.

          One way that the death of a local newspaper might hurt movies like Our Little Sister is that there are no longer local critics who can call attention to these movies. There don’t seem to be champions of these movies anymore.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

          Another issue is that the Internet tends to value silliness way more than I do.Report

          • Avatar Aaron David says:

            Ahh, internet ate my comment…

            In any case, very nice review @saul-degraw In the end, I think this movie, not having wide release nor having huge audiences, will have a longer half-life than this years crop of summer blockbusters, much like My Life As A Dog did. And in the end, isn’t that a greater achievement?Report

    • Baltimore has only on art house (with multiple screens). Fortunately, it is a pretty good one. In any case, if you are interested in this sort of thing, you keep up by checking their website. When there is only one place to look, this is not difficult. I have a harder time keeping track of the chamber music scene, with half a dozen or so outfits each doing their own thing.Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Even in the pre-Block Buster age, the movies that did the best were spectacle driven like the big MGM musicals or the epic movies. Hollywood did produce serious drama and adult fair that did well but they were more emotional than this movies. Art house was a thing in the mid-20th century but I’m not sure how many people went. Same with indies during the 80s and 90s.Report

  3. Avatar pillsy says:

    Unfortunately for me, I don’t think Hollywood will look towards Our Little Sister as the answer. Though it probably couldn’t hurt to try.

    I guess they’ll lose less money on cheap, low-key dramas almost no one wants to see than they will on “tentpole” action movies almost no one wants to see.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      Probably a fair assumption sadly. I suppose the majority of these articles are me trying to find out why movies like Our Little Sister don’t do well or “almost no one wants to see.”

      This gets back to the whole lit fic v. genre thing. Thrills are fine and all but they are not my primary reason for seeing movies. I don’t care if something is kickass or badass. I have a kind of loathing for those words anyway. Yet it seems to be the primary driver. People want to leave a movie feeling nothing more than what they saw was “kickass”.

      I also don’t get “So bad its good” and this gets me looks like I am an alien.Report

      • Avatar pillsy says:

        My theory:

        Well, most people think “thrills are fine”. They may love them, or, like you, they may only kinda like ’em, but they’re better than nothing. Other niche stuff is… niche stuff. It may have a lot going for it, but it’s going to involve some sort of unusual preference for you to appreciate it.

        The problem that Hollywood seems to periodically suffer through is that they assume that “lowest common denominator” is the same thing as “crap”. Actually making something that almost everyone will find pretty enjoyable is not nearly as easy as it looks.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        so bad its good is often a euphemism for “this is a movie you watch on drugs. you won’t like it otherwise”Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Hey, when your country’s average age is 10 years older, you tend to make movies for an audience that is 10 years older.Report

  5. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    Last weekend I watched “Kubo and the Two Strings”. I loved it, but it also represents a part of the film industry that’s dying out. It’s more like a genre film – an animated feature with fantastical elements – but it isn’t really doing any better than “My Little Sister”.

    It suffers from the same issues having to do with discovery, I think. How would someone find out about it?Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      I heard about Kubo on a Pandora ad, some bus ads, and the Slate Culture Gabfest.

      Landmark Cinemas (where I saw Our Little Sister) probably has enough of a built in audience to not need marketing.Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

        Yeah, if the theater has a following, it can work. But every time one of those theaters closes, something is lost. I don’t know how a new theater could build that following.

        Kubo had another issue – it’s stop-action animation, and marionettes, mixed with CGI. Which is really kind of weird. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it overall, I just wondered why they did it that way instead of some other way.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      A preview for “Kubo…” played ahead of “Finding Dory”.Report

  6. Avatar Kazzy says:

    “The 2016 summer season of blockbusters was an economic disaster for Hollywood. ”

    But… was it? The link doesn’t really make that case particularly well.


    Captain America and Zootopia both topped $1B worldwide. Nine other films topped half a billion.

    It is true that some major releases were panned by critics. And maybe even some of them failed to live up to financial expectations. But I’m simply not seeing any evidence that a “disaster” occurred.

    Batman vs Superman might have been a crap movie. But it earned over $800M at the box office (foreign and domestic). Even with a $400M budget… that’s $400M profit (maybe less since I’m not sure if marketing is included in the initial budget figure).

    “Our Little Sister” earned less than $400K domestically. And while that was obviously tied to the number of screens it was released on, I doubt any number of screens would have yielded a 9-figure profit.

    So why would Hollywood look to OLS as the answer to the disaster that is 9-figure profits?Report

    • Avatar dhex says:

      So why would Hollywood look to OLS as the answer to the disaster that is 9-figure profits?


      we live in a media age of plenty. or an age of too much. or an age of waaaaaaaay too much. perhaps even an age of holy hell please stop producing so much stuff. or whatever.

      just about something for everyone.Report