Average User Score: 5.6Oct 5, 2012Released in 2008, Taken came out of nowhere to earn $145 million at the box office on just a $25 million budget. The movie-going publicReleased in 2008, Taken came out of nowhere to earn $145 million at the box office on just a $25 million budget. The movie-going public recognizes fresh material when they see it. Taken was original, creative, driven, and hosted one of the most memorable protagonists in recent memory. Of course they would have to make a sequel to wring some more money out of Taken's fans.
A review of a movie sequel which starts outs praising the first installment instead of the new story is most likely not going to be very kind to the unfortunate title which ends in the number 2. Taken 2 keeps Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills, Famke Janssen as his ex-wife Lenore, and the always relentlessly annoying Maggie Grace as his daughter Kim. Rule of thumb - if Maggie Grace is cast in your film, it will probably stink. This is her second feature film in 2012, after Lockout, so she is 0-2 this year. The bad guys are also mostly the same; they are the extended family of the first group of Albanians Bryan killed after they kidnapped his daughter and sold her into sex slavery. Now they want revenge; they must honor their dead sons and brothers. It doesn't matter that their sons and brothers were human traffickers, rapists, and murderers. Family honor is family honor ya know? Bryan is growing close with his family again. After a few days of work in Istanbul as a heavily armed bodyguard, Byran invites Lenore and Kim to Turkey to take in the sights and relax in a very posh hotel. Fortunately for the Albanians, this is where they are going to kidnap Bryan, transport him back to Albania, and torture him to death. The introduction of mom and daughter is a cherry on top for the head bad guy Murad (Rade Serbedzija). He is older with grey hair; I mention this because all of the other couple dozen bad guys run together, he is the only one you will remember. In Taken, Bryan had it comparatively easy. He had one person to save and could methodically move through the ranks of thugs as he stabbed and shot his way to the top. Now, not only does he have to watch his own back, he must save both mom and daughter, sometimes alternating which one he can help at any given moment.
The original Taken was so good because of Bryan's practical and purposeful methods of extracting information, Neeson's deadpan delivery, and the ins and out of seedy Paris locales. Now take everything which made Taken a great movie and divide it by two. You already know the story, you know Bryan will talk slowly and concisely about how he has certain skills, and this time you get to suffer a bit more because Maggie Grace gets more screen time. The camera work also takes a nosedive during hand to hand combat. The camera shakes, jumps up and down, does some jumping jacks, and the average edit is probably .002 seconds. The audience has no hope of logically following who is punching whom or where a new bad guy springs up from. Scenes where Bryan fights with a loaded pistol are much easier to watch.
It's not that I'm mad at writer Luc Besson or director Olivier Megaton; they probably were under a lot of pressure to re-create the Taken magic. Unfortunately, they did not do a very good job. The story is only a bit laundered from the first one and everything else is merely imitation. Stay away from Taken 2, it will only remind you of its superior predecessor.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.2Sep 30, 2012Time travel is confusing. Once you think you may have a grasp on it and have ironed out the 'what-ifs', a new paradox will pop up andTime travel is confusing. Once you think you may have a grasp on it and have ironed out the 'what-ifs', a new paradox will pop up and collapse your argument which was a house of cards anyways. There are too many holes, and especially plot holes, when you try to rationally reason through what it means to travel through time and change the past. Once time travel is invented, hasn't it always been invented then? If you go back in time and change something, will you just disappear because your specific future no longer exists?
Looper sidesteps this whole enigma by having old Joe (Bruce Willis) tell his younger self that there is no use trying to figure it all out; it will just confuse you. This one statement immediately smooths out the conversation he is having with young Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the audience's mental gymnastics, and while still leaving them right there in front of you, chooses to ignore the Grand Canyon sized plot holes. If you spend enough time with a pen and a sheet of paper, you will most likely identify a dozen or so glaring issues with jumping back through time, but where is the fun in that? With Looper, it is enough to recognize you have a creative story to watch and gifted actors to watch carry it out.
The year is 2044, not so far in the future to imagine teleportation and interstellar flight, but far enough to dream up new technology, weapons, and illicit drugs. 2044 is quite similar to today's reality, but its every day norms and today's extreme edges magnified by 1000. There are hover motorcycles, currency is literally based on gold and silver, and the drug all the kids are using is administered through eyedrops and appears to have the effects as cocaine. There is also some glaring income inequality, you either have money or you do not; there is no middle class. The city landscape shows thousands of people living on the sidewalks and sometimes in the middle of the street. If someone steals from you, it looks like you are allowed to pull out your personal shotgun and teach them a severe lesson. Young Joe is a looper. At a specific time and always in the same place, the edge of a corn field, a hooded person will appear out of nowhere and all Joe has to do is immediately pull the trigger on his weapon and get rid of the body. These unfortunate souls are being sent back through time from 30 years in the future where time travel is illegal; therefore, it has morphed into a black market time travel system run by the mob. Young Joe is paid handsomely to do these simple tasks and spends the rest of his day and most of the night going to a club to drink, dance, take drugs, and spend time with Suzie (Piper Perabo), his favorite lady of the evening. There are rules to follow though. Since the system is run by the mob, breaking the rules is frowned upon. I will not go into the rules because young Joe does a good job explaining to you what they are. In his film noir, gravelly voice, which is trying to match a young Bruce Willis in style, Joe opens the movie and brings you up to speed on what has been happening with the time travel business and his specific spot on the food chain. He has looper friends with Seth (Paul Dano) as his closest one and he gets called in to see the boss, Abe (Jeff Daniels), from time to time. Other than that, young Joe is really running his own loop with his day job and his nightly activities.
Old Joe effectively ends that routine as soon as he pops into the corn field out of thin air. One would think that young Joe would have some questions or would want to cut his older self some slack, but no such luck. Young Joe enjoys his current situation and is in no frame of mind to have it messed with, even if it is a version of him doing the interrupting. Old Joe is on a quest to change the past and does not seem too pleased to run into his former self either. These two are the same man, but they certainly are different people. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is really the leading man here because Willis is in more of a supporting role and has noticeably less screen time; however, Bruce still gets top billing on the poster and in the credits. I wonder if that chafes Gordon-Levitt? Both Gordon-Levitt and Willis are very good here. On one hand, they are playing the same person and must try and match each other's facial ticks and mannerisms, but on the other hand, Gordon-Levitt is playing a kid against Willis's older and yes, wiser, character. Another supporting character is Sara (Emily Blunt) but I leave it to you to discover her role. Sara is saddled with most of the slower scenes in the middle which drag on a bit, but it's good to take a break from Joe, both young and old, after awhile. Looper was written and directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom) who should be commended for sitting down and puzzling through what must have been a very arduous screenplay.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.2Sep 19, 2012Haywire has style, almost too much style. Since it is a Steven Soderbergh film, a certain amount of gloss and creative camera shots areHaywire has style, almost too much style. Since it is a Steven Soderbergh film, a certain amount of gloss and creative camera shots are expected, but Haywire has more gloss and polish than average. It also has in-your-face brutal violence. There are relatively few firearms; the violence is one-on-one mortal combat to the death between somewhat evenly matched opponents, even though one of the fighters is a woman. It… Expand
Average User Score: 5.4Aug 26, 2012French tourists are obnoxious, loud, dirty, and oblivious to anything other than their petty concerns. I was under the impressions these areFrench tourists are obnoxious, loud, dirty, and oblivious to anything other than their petty concerns. I was under the impressions these are adjectives for American tourists when they venture over to the Old World; however, according to Julie Delpy's new film, 2 Days in New York, French people are truly garish. Five years after her similar effort, 2 Day in Paris, a busy and crowded New York apartment is the setting for a very disappointing movie.
Marion (Delpy) and Mingus (Chris Rock) live together with a modern, blended family setup. Marion has her toddler from a previous marriage and Mingus shares custody with his own elementary school aged daughter. They live in a cramped apartment somewhere in Manhattan but appear to be financially stable. Mingus hosts a few radio shows and writes for the Village Voice while Marion is a conceptual artist who is about to open her first solo show in a ritzy art gallery. The show opening is the impetus behind the invasion of the unbelievable French relations.
Marion's father Jeannot (Albert Delpy) arrives with his other daughter Rose (Alexia Landeau) and her current boyfriend of the day Manu (Alexandre Nahon). Instead of comedic cultural insights or witty observations, the audience is saddled with farce and stupidity. They are delayed in customs for attempting to smuggle in 40 pounds of sausage and cheese. They cut their toe nails at the dinner table, use Mingus' tooth brush during some off-screen sexual tryst in the bathroom, and latch on to a middle school level running gag that Mingus's name rhymes with cunnilingus. I have been to France multiple times… Expand
Average User Score: 6.1Aug 10, 2012Jason Bourne is one of the more intriguing film characters of the past decade. He methodically and purposefully found out who he was, who wasJason Bourne is one of the more intriguing film characters of the past decade. He methodically and purposefully found out who he was, who was responsible for his condition, and attempted to bring everything back together again. Even better, he was not a superhero; Jason was just a guy who went through a lot of training. He is elite, but deep down he is still one of us. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), on the other hand, has been tweaked a little bit. He pops pills to up his physical and mental skills. Yes, he is still human too, but perhaps a bit genetically modified. This splash of sci/fi does not help an audience tuned in to the adventures of Jason Bourne connect with the new guy.
When I first heard there was another Bourne installment, this time without Matt Damon, I figured someone either wrote a good script to carry on a new story line, or the studio wanted to churn out a guaranteed cash cow under the title of a proven and successful action series. Writer/director Tony Gilroy wrote the scripts for the first three Bourne films, but this is his first time behind the camera in the series. He successfully directed Michael Clayton and the under-appreciated Duplicity, but now the magic is gone. The Bourne Legacy is stale. Enduring a painfully slow beginning, The Bourne Legacy reveals it is set at the same point in time as The Bourne Ultimatum. In fact, if you have forgotten the plot points and supporting characters of the previous film, take the time to either watch it again or read about it online before heading into the new feature. Jason Bourne's escapades have thrown multiple CIA operations out in the open and the shadowy powers are frantically trying to sweep them under the rug before either Congress or the press start asking questions. Eric Byer (Edward Norton) orders the termination of Project Outcome, the new series of super agent represented by Aaron Cross. Instead of telling the agents to pack up and go home, the CIA chooses to assassinate them instead. Oh, and they try to wipe out all of the scientists who made them so super in the first place.
Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) is one of those scientists seeking ways to alter chromosomes to make a more perfect human. After surviving annihilation himself, Aaron conveniently scoops the good Dr. out of harms way which sets up an 'us against them' theme quite similar to the one you remember from The Bourne Identity. Unfortunately, The Bourne Legacy noticeably lacks the quality script and thrilling action sequences of that first film. The chase scenes in the new film are edited so atrociously, especially during motorcycle elements, that they are almost impossible to logically follow. You know they are weaving in and out of traffic, there are near misses, and flying bullets; but there are only quick glimpses of that on the screen in the midst of the unsteady camera work and split-second jump cuts.
The Bourne Identity also had a mystery to unravel and wandered around the world trying to find out who was behind the curtain. There is no curtain now, Edward Norton is pulling the strings in plain sight using all of the means in the intelligence community he can lay his hands on. There are armed Predator drones, devious mop-up CIA killing squads, and even a possible super-duper agent; imagine the Schwarzenegger Terminator battling the new T-1000. Renner and Weisz do their best to remake a film which was already pretty great. Yes, they have new names and faces, but they are running from the same agency, dodging the same bullets, but this time they have a higher chromosomal level on their side. The Bourne Legacy will be known as that film which derailed the very respectable Bourne franchise. Paul Greengrass, the director of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, was correct when he said any further film would feel like The Bourne Redundancy.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.0Aug 4, 2012Schadenfreude - pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. The entire audience at the screening of The Queen of Versailles experiencedSchadenfreude - pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. The entire audience at the screening of The Queen of Versailles experienced this feeling about the Siegel family; they are truly atrocious people. Two years ago, David and Jackie Siegel were billionaires. They had planes, Rolls Royces, multiple nannies for their seven kids, hosted parties for the Miss America pageant while David flirted with the contestants, and sat on a golden throne in their Orlando house during interviews for this documentary. They also began construction on a mansion called Versailles, a project which would become the largest house in the entire United States. It appears the filmmakers wanted to document the rise of this monstrosity of a house and display the lifestyle of the obscenely rich. Even better, these rich people liked to flaunt in front of the camera, not enjoy their splendor in private ala Bill Gates. David Siegel proudly claims he is individually responsible for George W. Bush winning the state of Florida and therefore the presidency; however, he chuckles that what he did was not exactly legal. Oh yes, schadenfreude. David called himself the 'King of Time Shares'. He built 28 resorts and an enormous building on the Vegas strip, parceled them up, and sold them 52 different times to vacationers. Then, in what must have exceeded all of the filmmakers' expectations, the recession hit and everybody in the country stopped buying time shares.
The Siegels were billionaires and yet, they had no savings. They paid cash for the Versailles house and only later put a mortgage on it because that meant millions more in ready, liquid money. They put nothing away for college funds for their kids. In fact, Jackie stares at the camera exclaiming her children might actually have to go to college now. The Siegels can no longer keep up with the Versailles mortgage payments and put it up for sale unfinished for $75 million. The housing market just crashed, tens of thousands of families are entering foreclosure, including Jackie's best friend, and the Siegels are trying to move a $75 million dollar mistake. The realtors may not be quite up to the task of marketing the house since one of the agents exclaims how unique Versailles (pronouncing it Versize) is. Nobody is buying time shares, therefore, there is no money coming in to the company, and David lays off 7,000 employees. He also fires 19 household servants. Dogs run around crapping all over the house and nobody picks it up. A lizard dies of lack of food and water, a fish floats at the top of its filthy tank, and one of the kids exclaims, "I didn't know we even had a lizard." Don't worry, Jackie still compulsively shops to add to the ridiculous piles of 'stuff' that the kids do not even know they have. She also maintains her plastic surgery regimen. Jackie's chest has enjoyed being a a third character in this whole mess. Other than the Michael Moore type of documentaries which have a stated agenda, filmmakers are thought to be neutral arbiters. They film the action, interview the subjects, and edit it in a way fair to all the players. However, no matter how one edits the footage, the Siegels are going to come off looking like some very horrible people. David is 30 years Jackie's senior and now that their funds are rapidly dwindling away, he is starting to get tired of his third wife. He hides in his office (a couch in front of a flat screen surrounded by papers and food scraps) to enjoy being away from the chaos which his house has become. You will not envy the Siegels. They still have more money than you do, but you would never switch places with them. I walked out of the theater with a new appreciation for my situation in life knowing that most of us are normal folks going about our business and enjoy time with our family and friends. The fact that there are folks like the Siegels out there, who by the way are shocked a bank bailout did not filter down to them, makes you shake your head in shame of the human race.… Expand
Average User Score: 8.2Jul 28, 2012Superheroes are usually infallible, except for whatever their one weakness is. What I mean is that after a knock down, drag-out end of theSuperheroes are usually infallible, except for whatever their one weakness is. What I mean is that after a knock down, drag-out end of the world fight, they are able to get up, wipe the dirt off their shoulder, and walk away without any visible scars. Batman is not superhuman though, he relies on technology and a therapist's dream amount of anger. It has been eight years since the events of The Dark Knight and no Gothamite has seen even a glimpse of Batman (Christian Bale). Coincidentally, nobody has seen reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne either.
Bruce limps now; he shuffles around with a cane, stoops his shoulders, and has no cartilage in his knees. During a fundraiser, he is actually at a disadvantage and lets a cat burglar, Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), sneak into his rooms and steal his dead mother's pearls right in front of him. Yep, Bruce Wayne is depressed. Business isn't doing too well either. Along with Lucious Fox (Morgan Freeman) who runs the day-to-day of Wayne Enterprises, Bruce sunk half his money into nuclear fusion research trying to develop clean energy for Gotham City. That avenue does not appear to be taking off any time soon. Alas, if it was just his money, Bruce probably would not be so down in the dumps, but he also took the money of philanthropist and do-gooder Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard). Bruce really does not like to lose a good looking lady's money. The Dark Knight Rises would be an altogether odd Batman film if the main villains were depression and the recession. No worries, the bad guy this time literally emerges from a dark hole in the ground, wears a grotesque mask on his head, and sounds like a hard to understand Darth Vader. Bane (Tom Hardy) is a big guy. One could say he grew up in a rough neighborhood and has been socialized to become the world's, and naturally Gotham's, leading terrorist. He nonchalantly takes over and disintegrates a CIA aircraft, takes the entire New York Stock Exchange hostage, and oh yeah, gets his hand on a neutron bomb which he hangs over the heads of the woefully unlucky Gotham citizens. Please Batman, come back to us; but there is no Batman to be found. Gotham City blames the Batman for Harvey Dent's death and despite the best efforts of Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) to temper their anger, nobody likes Batman too much.
That is just fine with Alfred (Michael Caine). He is more than happy to see Batman hang up his repelling hooks and leather body suit. Besides, he thinks Bruce Wayne can do the world more good than Batman can; especially an older and weathered Batman. But if it wasn't for those gosh darn meddling kids, Batman probably would have stayed out of this whole mess. Rookie police officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) knows the truth about Bruce Wayne. How? Well, you will have to watch the film for that; needless to say, I thought it was quite the stretch how he figures it out. Blake works for this film's resident jackass, Foley (Matthew Modine), who is angling to take over for an even more weathered Commissioner Gordon.
The Dark Knight Rises is a big film. I do not necessarily mean that in terms of its budget, its expected box office take, or the IMAX screen I saw it on. Just like The Dark Knight, its underlying philosophy is big. The script dives deeper than the ordinary first layer of is he a superhero or a vigilante? Perhaps Alfred is on to something that what the world needs is another philanthropic billionaire and not a guy hopping around town on his latest crazy gadget. The gadget this time is a kind of batwing, but is just odd looking and clunky. Bane also has his own philosophy, but it is more "We are the 99%" taken to the nth degree combined with a dash of mayhem and some spicy nuclear armageddon. I only understood about 80% of Bane's dialogue. There are times when he is truly hard to understand. He voice is amplified by a microphone and I think there is an Irish accent in there. This film is a fine capstone to Director Christopher Nolan's trilogy. It stays away from the campy, make fun of itself side ala Batman Forever and continues the effective choice from the previous film of an incredibly formidable enemy. Just like Heath Ledger's version of the Joker, Bane is not someone you take lightly. Batman can mess around with the Riddler and Mr. Freeze, but Bane would eat those two for breakfast.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.1Jul 27, 2012The French Revolution kicked off in 1789, not too long after America's ended. Fortunately for King George III, he lived in London and notThe French Revolution kicked off in 1789, not too long after America's ended. Fortunately for King George III, he lived in London and not Philadelphia or Boston. King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette were not so lucky; their revolution sprouted on their doorstep. The four days which Farewell, My Queen covers, 14-17 July 1789, were dark days indeed for the French monarchy and their noble hangers-on. Nobody leaves Versailles because it is too dangerous, the Bastille is stormed, and there are pamphlets floating around Paris of 286 named individuals whose heads the revolutionaries wish to chop off. The number one name on that pamphlet is Marie Antoinette (Diane Kruger).
Unlike Sophia Coppola's 2006 version of this story, Marie is not as young as she once was. She misses her youth but appears to have found company with the Duchess Gabrielle de Polignac (Virginie Ledoyen). Scandalous rumors circulate not only throughout the palace of the extent of their liaisons, but also through the rest of France. Many believe the Duchess is just as responsible for the people's miserable state of affairs as are the King and Queen. In fact, her name is number three on the guillotine wishlist. However, both of these ladies are merely supporting characters in Benoit Jacqot's version; their story is told through the eyes and ears of the queen's loyal reader, Sidonie Laborde (Lea Seydoux). Sidonie is at the queen's beck and call whenever she feels in the mood for a play or a novel to be read to her. She does not have a more devoted subject; Sidonie absolutely worships the queen is all she does or could do. The queen recognizes the true adoration in Sidonie's eyes and so employs her as a sort of sounding board and confidant; not to the extent of Duchess de Polignac's level of intimacy, but nonetheless, Sidonie is one of the closest servants to the queen. The other palace servants take note of this and Sidonie appears to be among the more higher-ranking servants. Even downstairs in the servant's quarters there is a caste system of hierarchy and rank. Because Sidonie is extremely well read and discreet on top of it, she is quite the capable spy who can ferret out closely held information when events start to pick up the pace outside the palace walls. Sidonie knows which servants to press for info, whose palms need greasing, and in which particular dark corner of the room to stand to eavesdrop on conversations to acquire the most up to date gossip on how the queen is feeling, who woke the King up in the middle of the night, and how close the revolutionaries are getting to the outside walls.
Unfortunately, what sounds like deep palace intrigue and an interesting history lesson in the French Revolution mostly lands with a thud on screen. Marie Antoinette is seen a few times and the Duchess hardly at all. A movie which spends a lot of time discussing the truth and falsehoods of their relationship only puts them in the same room together once. Sidonie holds your interest as she scurries back and forth trying to please the queen but her limited view of the action also limits the audience's view. As the situation becomes more pressing and hectic, the camera almost latches on to the back of Sidonie's neck as she runs down the long, slick hallways of Versailles. Towards the end, the camera work was becoming a bit distracting. One should not notice the camera's movements too much but after another jerky movement to the right and back left or another awkward close-up, I wished they would just place the camera on a tripod and let it be. What the cinematographer may have thought was innovative and eye-catching was more irritating and a case of needless showboating.
The art and costume directors must have had a field day though. Any film set in 1789 Versailles probably has these types of creative personnel lined up down the block raising their hands to get a shot at it. While Farewell, My Queen works on an aesthetic level to produce a great looking period piece (minus the camera), this film is only for the Francophile. Those who relish any story of Marie Antoinette will probably love this movie no matter what. There is a lot of name dropping and whoever remembers their pre-Napoleon French history class from college may smile and nod as name after name is casually mentioned in conversation. For those who are a bit more discerning in their historical fiction though, you will not take very much away from this film you do not already know. Go enjoy some French wine instead or pick up a copy of A Tale of Two Cities to quench your French Revolution itch.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.4Jul 13, 2012Even though Your Sister's Sister is set mostly in the open air of a secluded area of a Puget Sound island, it feels a bit claustrophobicEven though Your Sister's Sister is set mostly in the open air of a secluded area of a Puget Sound island, it feels a bit claustrophobic because of the very small cast. There are only three characters who perform 99% of the film's interactions and there are only so many combinations a screenplay can invent to pair two of them off at any given time. There are long, drawn out conversations which have an improvisational feeling about them and are enjoyable to sit back and watch. Audiences conditioned to expect quick cuts, brief sequences, and pointed dialogue may grow impatient with the extended length of scenes, but for those who relish real situations and characters who take more than a few minutes to develop will enjoy getting to know these people, quirks and all.
Jack (Mark Duplass) appears, just by looking at him, to be having a rough time. There are bags under his eyes, he has a few extra pounds, probably from too much booze, he is unemployed, and social conversations he attempts to contribute to have a way of ending awkwardly and uncomfortable for all in the room. His brother died a year ago and he still has no idea how to move on from that. His best friend happens to be his deceased brother's ex-girlfriend Iris (Emily Blunt). Perhaps this is Jack's way of hanging on to something his brother once had. Iris cares for Jack and after one of his completely inappropriate diatribes, she orders him to get on his old bike, peddle down to the Seattle ferry, and go spend a week alone in the woods at her father's cabin. Perhaps some solitude and introspection will kick him out of his funk.
The cabin is not empty though. Someone else with life problems decided to squirrel away there; this is Iris's sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt). Jack and Hannah recognize a bit of themselves in each other, mainly the self loathing bits, and realize that first night together at the cabin that talking about your problems to a stranger over a bottle of tequila is oddly cathartic. Hannah just walked out of a very long-term relationship with her girlfriend and all of their long-term plans they had together. Both Jack and Hannah are searching for what they should do next in life, where to go, and how to change to get there; so maybe this is why they drunkenly end up in bed together.
The film sets itself up to go in many directions. It could have been self-destructive depression for Jack. It could have been a modern west coast version of Walden for lost souls. However, it chose to become a somewhat comedic love triangle. Iris shows up at the cabin early the next morning and Jack decides she does not need to know what happened last night with Hannah. Each of them maintains their own respective agendas and watching them emerge and conflict with one another is amusing and intriguing to wonder how it may play out. Jack is nervous about the truth being revealed, Iris has her own secrets, and Hannah may be trumping them all. This talk about secrets makes Your Sister's Sister sound devious and manipulative but it is not; somehow, the script keeps the atmosphere light and airy.
Writer/director Lynn Shelton has worked with Mark Duplass previously (Humpday) and the summer of 2012 appears to be his emergence to a wider indie public. He has three films in theaters simultaneously (Your Sister's Sister, Safety Not Guaranteed, People Like Us) and reminds me of Jessica Chastain from 2011 who came out of nowhere and seemed to be in a new release every single weekend. British actress Emily Blunt keeps her accent for this film and the plot noticeably includes a few sentences as to why that is. Her being British is not necessary to the film so waiting to see how they end up explaining away her accent causes a bit of an eye roll but it is not too distracting. Rosemarie DeWitt comes out the winner of the three. She has the benefit of playing the most well written character and she has the acting chops to pull it off. Jack is more the clumsy oaf while Iris is more the sounding board for his issues, but Hannah is in on both of their secrets and therefore benefits screen time wise.
Your Sister's Sister is much better than its recent cinematic cousin Safety Guaranteed and aims for more depth in its characters. The film lacks any particular punches which may have catapulted it into more profound waters; however, it is a worthwhile indie film to enjoy in an air conditioned theater on a hot day when the just the thought of another version of Spiderman will not do.… Expand
Average User Score: 7.5Jul 8, 2012Beasts of the Southern Wild is shot through the eyes of a six year old. To Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis), the islands of southern LouisianaBeasts of the Southern Wild is shot through the eyes of a six year old. To Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis), the islands of southern Louisiana are a magical place filled with lucky people who do not have to live like cowards behind the levees and only get one holiday a year. Hushpuppy's voiceover reveals the island folk rarely need an excuse to have a party or take another holiday. If this film were shot through the more perceptive eyes of an adult, the audience I bet would get a much different take on things. Extreme poverty, alcoholism, and child neglect are just the first few overt issues which come to mind. It was a very wise move for the filmmakers to stick with the child protagonist. Magical realism is far more acceptable and preferable to an audience than what could arguably be termed child cruelty.
Hushpuppy and her father, Wink (Dwight Henry), live in an area called 'The Bathtub'. It is not protected by the New Orleans levee system, people scuttle around from place to place by haphazardly crafted boats, and everyone expects that some day, the melting polar ice caps will submerge their homes and only the strong will survive. It turns out that some day in Beasts of the Southern Wild is now. When Hushpuppy first hears the thunder of the coming storm, she believes it to the be the sound of melting glaciers falling off of Antarctica. It is never mentioned by name; however, the storm appears to be Hurricane Katrina. Since the main part of her father's and his friends' days consist of drinking, there are no preparations for the coming calamity, just praise for the brave souls staying behind for what they claim will be a little wet weather and catcalls to those fleeing behind the levees. Where is mama in all of this? The idea of mama to Hushpuppy is and old, dirty basketball jersey she carries around with her and sometimes talks to. Every now and then, Hushpuppy thinks she sees mama when she glimpses a far away lighthouse or watches an approaching helicopter. Whether mama is dead or has just run off is another unexplained phenomenon kept by daddy.
After the storm, Hushpuppy and daddy float around in their make shift boat which is the back of an old pickup truck with a struggling outboard hanging on behind it. They meet up with a few other survivors who immediately start engaging in activities they do best, drinking. However, this was not your regular storm. The water is not receding, the animals, even the fish, are dying, and whatever sickness daddy had to start with is starting to pick up speed. Throughout the ensuing scenes to remedy their dreadful situation, Hushpuppy keeps the audience involved with her prescient voiceover. A notable example is her comparison of getting old and sick outside of the levee wall versus inside of it. Outside there is savagery; the young will eat the old and move on. Inside, they plug you into the wall (ventilators). Whenever daddy feels he has been a particularly lousy father, he teaches Hushpuppy to do something such as catch a catfish her bare hands and be sure to give it a good punch when she gets it into the boat. There is also an odd side story involving long extent carnivores called aurochs. They represent the savage beasts who kill and eat anything and everything. The allegory is not readily apparent and its payoff is understated at best. This description sounds starkly bleak, which the subject matter surely is, but the film is very well put together. The scenery looks like it would after biblical destruction, the actors appear to all be locals and have the accents to prove it, and the music is incorporated effectively. The very young actress playing Hushpuppy is phenomenal. Perhaps a few years from now she will realize just how deep her character is written and how only a very minority of child actors could have possible pulled it off. Her father, while not necessarily a sympathetic character, was well cast and while is not particularly an ignorant man, is certainly a man set in his ways determined his progeny will follow in the local footsteps. Having respect for and maintaining the traditions of your place of birth is one thing, but more than likely, Hushpuppy is being set up for a life of substance abuse and unsteady employment. However, that is jumping ahead. Beasts of the Southern Wild is about a very specific time and place with thoughts only of the next meal, not tomorrow, and definitely not next month. The camaraderie between our heroes and the locals is fun to watch and seeing how they make the best of a horrible situation is quite creative when you see it as Hushpuppy does. The film is certainly worthy of the word of mouth it is getting because audiences have really not seen anything like this before. It is winning awards for cinematography, but the hand held camera borders on annoying at times. See it for the story, the locations, and the child actor. You will tell your friends about it the next day.… Expand