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Review Revue: THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES rules

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 a rags-to-riches-to-rags tale, a Caped Crusader, a make-believe girlfriend, a well-digger and some hot n’ bothered New Yorkers.

THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES

Synopsis: A documentary, in summer, amid all the action films, superhero franchises and escapist cinema? Yes, it would seem so; and QUEEN OF VERSAILLES is turning heads as a stirring character study of what it means to be rich in a crumbling economy. It should also be noted that this film has nothing to do with the lesbian Queen Marie Antoinette costume drama of last week, FAREWELL, MY QUEEN.

Most typical critique: Andrew O’Hehir, Salon:

Like a Theodore Dreiser novel for our time, infused with the vivid, vulgar spirit of reality TV. It often had the sold-out [Sundance Festival venue] Eccles Center howling, but also has elements of profound tragedy and allegory.

The quote not to miss: Roger Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service:

With every shopping spree, every limo ride to McDonald’s, Mrs. Siegel underlines the clichĂ© that money cannot buy you taste. Or class.

Should you go see it?

Definitely. This is a documentary about “the 1 percent of the 1 percent” as Entertainment Weekly‘s Owen Gleiberman puts it, and even though we don’t like to pay attention to them, this documentary has that reality-style can’t-look-away vibe.

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

Synopsis: It’s BATMAN 7 everyone! Christopher Nolan and company are back, with Christian Bale and Michael Caine, along with Anne Hathaway and Tom Hardy villain-ing it up. Oh, and INCEPTION alums Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, too!

Most typical critique: Manohla Dargis, The New York Times:

The grave and satisfying finish to Mr. Nolan’s operatic bat-trilogy.

The quote not to miss: Jeanne Kaplan, Kaplan vs. Kaplan:

Not only is it wildly entertaining — it also has a jarring, intense score by Hans Zimmer, to-die-for sets by Paki Smith, unbelievable cinematography by Wally Pfister and 11 art directors. All of this combined is why we go to the movies!

Should you go see it?

Duh. As if you’d miss the followup to the phenomenal, gripping free-for-all that was THE DARK KNIGHT…

RUBY SPARKS

Synopsis: The crazy ways of creativity mix with love in this imaginative fable from gifted writer-actress Zoe Kazan and the folks who made LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE.

Most typical critique: Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter:

A beguiling romantic fantasy about the creative process and its potential to quite literally take on a life of its own, RUBY SPARKS performs an imaginative high-wire act with finesse and charm.

The quote not to miss: David Fear, Time Out New York:

Given the way the film consistently relies on the talented actor’s left-of-center charms, you end up with a cake-and-eat-it-too critique: You get to acknowledge how one-dimensional the male fantasies of hot nerd-messiah chicks are while basking in exactly the same thing. Nice try.

Should you go see it?

The answer is yes. It’s films like RUBY SPARKS that remind you quirky can be good. So can a simple, strong concept (even if it’s a bit high-concept).

THE WELL DIGGER’S DAUGHTER

Synopsis: Famed French actor Daniel Auteuil’s directorial debut is a remake of the 1940s classic by Marcel Pagnol, about a well-digger named Pascale raising six daughters in the Provence countryside during the years before Word War I. Doesn’t sound too shabby…

Most typical critique: David Jenkins, Time Out:

There’s a broad appeal to be gleaned from its antiquated charm, modest focus and a clutch of ripe, old-school character turns, especially from Auteuil in the lead and French stalwarts Jean-Pierre Darroussin and Sabine AzĂ©ma.

The quote not to miss: Eric Hynes, Time Out New York:

[Astrid] Bergès-Frisbey and [Nicolas] Duvauchelle make for a deliciously ripe pair — their cheekbones defy both gravity and sound facial architecture — but Auteuil is less interested in young lust than old world values.

Should you go see it?

Mais oui. If your brain isn’t too fried by the summer heat (and the loud summer blockbusters) to read subtitles, make sure to catch this.

30 BEATS

Synopsis: This may or may not sound like your actual summer: “Ten disparate New Yorkers are connected by a summer heat wave and a series of steamy sexual encounters” (from the official site).

Most typical critique: Matt Singer, Time Out New York:

There’s an interesting idea about the way people assume wildly disparate personalities to please different sexual partners, but the flaccid execution of this promiscuous–New Yorkers circle jerk is more worthy of the clap than a round of applause.

The quote not to miss: Nick Pinkerton, Village Voice:

It is absolutely terrible.

Should you go see it?

Not so much. Perhaps a real life summer tryst will be more worthwhile.