Review Revue: YOUR SISTER'S really got SOMETHING!

Going to the movies should never, ever be stressful (unless, of course, you’re planning on seeing the latest Lars von Trier flick). You want to see something new and relevant so that you can talk it up with your know-it-all friends. But you don’t want to sit through the one film that everyone thought would be great, but…isn’t. So here is our formula, simplifying the should-you-see-it conundrum: 
5 new releases x 2 critical samplings = what you should go see
Simple enough, right? This week we have bickering sisters, a crew of rappers, a crew of rockers, some Parisian mystery and Salma Hayek.

Synopsis: This festival darling made a splash at both Tribeca and Sundance, featuring the likable Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass (the reluctant Prince of Mumblecore) and Rosemarie DeWitt in a somewhat complicated love spat involving siblings, death and lesbians.

Most typical critique: Christy Lemire, Associated Press:

Even when things get a little crazy and maybe even too soapy, YOUR SISTER’S SISTER always feels like it’s rooted in a tangible reality, a place of unpredictability and abiding humanity.

The quote not to miss: Cole Smithey,

Mumblecore standard-bearer Lynn Shelton (HUMPDAY) shows promising signs of maturing with this originally executed romantic comedy…the partially improvised dialogue rings like a bell more often than not. Emily Blunt is something of a revelation in an independent-film context where her remarkable talents shine bright.

Should you go see it?

Should be a delight! With 20 out of 21 reviews deemed ‘fresh’ on Rotten Tomatoes (a whopping 95%), SISTER seems like writer-director Lynn Shelton’s best work yet, and HUMPDAY already wasn’t half bad (in fact, it was pretty damn good too).

Synopsis: The sensitive and soft-spoken legends of hip hop music — Eminem, Snoop Dogg and Kanye West to name but a few — chime in on the state of the industry today in this performance doc (and Sundance alumnus) helmed by first-time director (and TV law enforcer) Ice T.

Most typical critique: Nathan Rabin, AV Club:

[Ice] T has wracked up such an impressive line-up that it’s almost easier to name the star rappers who don’t appear (50 Cent, for example, is nowhere to be seen)…comfortably inhabiting the role of hip hop elder statesman in front of such luminaries as Eminem, Kanye West, Mos Def, and Redman.

The quote not to miss: Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York:

The general takeaway, occasionally swaddled in pot clouds and boisterous laughter, is that verse-slinging requires serious thought and planning…Don’t expect another filmmaker to ever have such access to the gods of hip-hop, so one can only hope for extended extras on DVD.

Should you go see it?

Yes, even if you don’t often get down with this music. Ice T has fashioned an authentic documentary looking into the lives of figures whose public personas are as rough-and-tumble as their private selves are warm and lovable (Ice T among them).

Synopsis: She’s just a small-town girl, livin’ in a lonely world…he’s just a city boy, born ‘n raised in south Detroit (you get the picture). Plus, Tom Cruise as a heavy metal rock god named Stacee Jaxx).

Most typical critique: Andrew O’Hehir,

ROCK OF AGES is an effulgent celebration of fakeness. It isn’t trying to be real; it’s trying to be faker than any fake thing has ever been before.

The quote not to miss: Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune:

A few days after seeing a screening, I was driving by a billboard for the movie, and I thought, well, who knows? That might be fun. Then I realized I’d already seen it. And forgotten it.

Should you go see it?

Do you like light-as-air Broadway imports? This one is about as straightforward as it gets. There are some mildly entertaining moments (mostly thanks to Alec Baldwin, which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise), but the film leaves about the same impression as any of the rock anthems on the soundtrack as performed by an earnestly hopeful (but ultimately ineffectual) contestant on American Idol.

Synopsis: A smoky Parisian mystery involving an anguished American author (played by an anguished Ethan Hawke) who gets caught up in some shady dealings, as well as a shady lady in the 5th arrondissement (Kristin Scott Thomas, in a very cliché role).

Most typical critique: Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly:

[Director Pawlikowski] creates a nice sense of paranoia and multicultural bewilderment that’s the welcome tonal opposite of Woody Allen’s romanticized MIDNIGHT IN PARIS fripperies.

The quote not to miss: MaryAnn Johanson, The Flick Filosopher:

Oh, deliver us, please, from tiresome male fantasies….What a waste of the awesomeness of Kristin Scott Thomas, reduced to a bit of wank material.

Should you go see it?

You could. By many accounts, this is some of Hawke’s best acting in ages (and KS Thomas’ worst), in a dark and twisted parable that poses some dark and twisted psychological questions. Just don’t expect too many answers.

Synopsis: An international fable by Mathieu Demy, son of filmmaking legends Agnès Varda and Jacques Demy, dealing with confronting the ghosts of the past. Fellow children-of-filmmakers Geraldine Chaplin and Chiara Mastroianni co-star, along with a scintillating Salma Hayek as a dancer in Tijuana.

Most typical critique: Bill Weber, Slant Magazine:

This odd hybrid of in-search-of-mother quest and lurid border-town pulp shows a humane intimacy mostly in touches borrowed from the filmmaker’s estimable parents.

The quote not to miss: Peter Debruge, Variety:

[Protagonist] Martin’s personal journey finds a fresh angle on a universal piece of wisdom. Every mother’s son believes he’s the star of his own life; AMERICANO captures that humbling moment where one realizes perhaps he has only been a bit player in his parents’ story, not the star, as initially believed.

Should you go see it?

It’s a mixed bag. This is a thinking man’s journey film, in an interior as well as literal sense, but the director’s perspective seems a little hobbled by his position as the son of filmmakers with a slightly more lasting legacy than his own.