Your Sister’s Sister

High Noon

Are you into horror movies? Well, good news for you, it’s October, which means that there’s going to be a horror moving playing on a screen in basically any direction you look for the whole month. But what of the people out there who are too anxious to be in the room as things are going bump in the night, or too squeamish to watch as gore erupts into geysers? There’s no need for them to worry, because plenty of other types of movies are always being added to Netflix, and here we have a list of 20 recent additions that will get them past Halloween and into November. As always, click on the films’ titles to be taken to their Netflix pages. Pick of the Month: High Noon (1952) Old cowboy movies are fun. Generally they’ve got dusty frontier towns, a handful of good guys trying to uphold the law, a handful of bad guys trying to break the law, and eventually a big shootout where someone falls off the roof of a building and into a horse trough. High Noon has all of that stuff, and it even features a lead performance from Gary Cooper that raises it up a notch above the other old cowboy movies out there. That doesn’t really paint the whole picture of what this movie is though. This is truly one of the greats—the sort of thing that rightly gets studied in film classes—and that’s because it’s just such a goddamned marvel of […]

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2012-overlookedmovies

The movies listed here aren’t necessarily the year’s best, but they’re still great movies that never found an audience during their theatrical run for one reason or another. At least one of those reasons is you, but instead of berating you for failing to support the films while they were in theaters and needed your help, we’re hoping to point you in their direction now. (Which reminds me… go see Jack Reacher!) But first, a few qualifications. I’ve excluded movies that played in fewer than 100 theaters since that’s the distributor’s fault. I’m not featuring films that made over $30m, and I’m not including subtitled foreign releases which the masses avoid by default. These are only films that had a real chance of making a lot more money, so while I wish more people saw the LCD Soundsystem concert doc Shut Up and Play the Hits, I’m not surprised that it only made $510k. So here are 12 great movies that failed at the box office but deserved much better (and should be sought out immediately on Blu-ray/DVD, streaming, whatever)… and 6 terrible flicks that you were right to avoid.

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Culture Warrior

It’s nothing new to say that the term “independent filmmaking” has come to no longer reference the actual practice of making films outside the studio system, and alerts more directly to an aesthetic of hipness. That the cute-and-quirky consecutive multi-Oscar nominees Little Miss Sunshine and Juno were similarly marketed by Fox Searchlight as “independent films” despite the fact that the former was actually produced independently and the latter was funded by studio dollars, effectively put the nail in the coffin for actual independent filmmaking to have any meaningful visibility. Meanwhile, first-time directors who make their name at Sundance like Marc Webb, Doug Liman, and Seth Gordon quickly reveal themselves to be aspiring directors-for-hire rather than anti-Hollywood renegades. Tom DiCillo, Hal Hartley, and Jim Jarmusch seem ever more like naïve, idealist relics each passing year. It’s clear what the blurring of the lines between independence and studio filmmaking has meant for the mainstream: as my friend and colleague Josh Coonrod pointed out last week, it renders “platform release” synonymous with “independent,” it means that movies featuring Bradley Cooper and Bruce Willis are the top competitors at the “Independent” Spirit Awards (see the John Cassavetes Award for actual independents), and it means that Quentin Tarantino is, for some reason, still considered an independent filmmaker. American independent filmmaking has lost its ideological reason for being. But when it comes to films that are actually independently financed – films for whom the moniker is less an appeal toward cultural capital and more an accurate […]

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Reject Recap: The Best of Film School Rejects

Welcome to another Reject Recap. Can you believe how fast time is flying by this year? It’s already December, and soon it will be the end of the 2012 (and end of the world?). And it’s been a surprisingly busy time for big movie news and rumors. Who can keep up with all the reports and commentary every day? If you haven’t been able to, we invite you to at least check out the highlights down below. First, we must give you the weekly reminder to check out our reviews of the new theatrical releases (Killing Them Softly; The Collection; California Solo; What a Man; Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning) and interviews with Killing Them Softly director Andrew Dominik and The Day‘s director and cast, including Dominic Monaghan, Ashley Bell and Shawn Ashmore. This week we also looked at promotional artwork for Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim and watched trailers for such films as Black Rock and something called Osombie. Now, check out our biggest and best stories and original content from the past week after the break.

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THR Directors Roundtable 2012

One of the highlights of the Oscar season is the series of round table discussions produced by The Hollywood Reporter, and for good reason. We spend much of the fall and winter comparing drastically different films only on the most basic of levels, who is deserving of awards and who isn’t. Any real conversation between the creators of the best movies of the year is therefore worth watching. Unfortunately, the list of the participants is not often as diverse as the films themselves. This year’s directors’ round table was made up entirely of men, as was the one last year. The same is true of this year’s writers’ panel. Meanwhile, the one real opportunity for us to hear a genuine dialog between women in cinema, the actresses’ panel, was bungled by the typical soft and silly questions that plague American actresses. As Monika Bartyzel so astutely points out in her piece over at Movies.com, it might not be intentional on the part of THR but that doesn’t make it any less problematic.

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Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Your Sister’s Sister Jack (Mark Duplass) is still suffering bouts of depression a year after the death of his brother, so when his best friend Iris (Emily Blunt), who happens to be his brother’s ex, offers up her family’s cabin for a few days of rest he jumps at the chance. Unbeknownst to both of them Iris’ sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) has also holed up in the cabin after a rough breakup with her girlfriend. Hilarity and romantic complications ensue. Writer/director Lynn Shelton has moved beyond the confines of her early mumblecore career and delivered a film filled with humor, honesty and a compelling romantic triangle. The three leads are at the top of their game and form a trio I would happily marry. Also available on DVD. [Extras: Trailer, commentaries]

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Depending on who you ask 2012 is either on target to be a great year for movies or an underwhelming one. It’s worth noting though that anyone who answers with the latter is a complete and utter tool. There have already been several fantastic movies in theaters over the past six and a half months including The Grey, The Avengers, The Raid: Redemption, 21 Jump Street, The Cabin In the Woods, Moonrise Kingdom and more. In addition to being fantastic entertainment though, most of those movies also had studio support to increase awareness and help make them big hits. As for The Raid and Cabin, well, you can’t say the internet didn’t do its damnedest to get the word out on just how awesome they are. Not our fault if American moviegoers didn’t listen… But a third group of great movies exists this year too. Ones that had little to no push from studios or distributors, a minimal presence on movie blogs and a near negligible presence at the box-office. The year’s only half over, but we wanted to share our choices for the best movies you’ve most likely missed this year…so far.

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Editor’s note: With Your Sister’s Sister beginning its limited roll-out this week, we thought it best to re-run Robert Levin’s sterling Sundance review of the film, already a Reject favorite. This review was originally published on January 28, 2012. Your Sister’s Sister is perhaps the most high-concept movie I saw at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but it’s also one of the funniest and most heartfelt. Sometimes, a precise, discernible pitch really does have potential. And after this film and Humpday (in which two straight male friends decide to make an amateur porn film together), writer-director Lynn Shelton is fast establishing herself as one of the independent film world’s masters of such fare. Her new picture parallels pensive shots of the pristine, misty splendor of the Pacific Northwest with the story of three lonely, likable locals who are searching for happiness. Mark Duplass stars as the directionless Jack, struggling to cope with the recent death of his brother. Emily Blunt plays Jack’s best friend Iris, who is also his brother’s former girlfriend. To clear his head, she offers him the run of her family’s vacation home on a picturesque island off the Washington coast. Iris’s half-sister Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) is already there, though, looking to escape a trauma of her own: the end of a seven-year relationship. A drunken night with Jack leads to hilariously awkward sex and, eventually, serious consequences when Iris unexpectedly shows up the next day.

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Prometheus

One month down in the summer movie season. We got a decent opener, certainly not a grand start. Joss Whedon‘s box-office juggernaut and Wes Anderson‘s lovely Moonrise Kingdom aside, we faced disappointments. The Dictator was hit and miss. Battleship was more bloated than big. Although it was better than its harsher critics suggested, Dark Shadows didn’t exactly win over any of Depp and Burton’s naysayers. Now, with June, we’ve got an even more promising month; 30 days packed with Abraham Lincoln killing vampires, a rock musical, and a talking bear movie. All the required ingredients for a proper moviegoing month. This is such a busy month the honorable mentions are more honorable than usual, even Adam Shankman‘s Rock of Ages, that movie being marketed as a celebrity karaoke party. Even though The Loved Ones is apparently a must-see movie, 99.9% of you will not be able to see it this month, hence why it’s not on the list. But what is?

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There are a good number of reasons to get excited for Your Sister’s Sister, not the least of which is that our own Robert Levin saw it at Sundance and ended up enjoying it quite a bit. The biggest reason to get excited today, however, is the release of the film’s trailer. Taking place in the gorgeous scenery of the Pacific Northwest, Your Sister’s Sister tells the tale of a depressed gent (Mark Duplass) who gets sent away by his best friend (Emily Blunt) to her family’s island cabin. Hijinx ensue when Blunt’s equally depressed sister (Rosemarie DeWitt) is unexpectedly already at said cabin, and some drunken sexy time commences. Drama ensues when Blunt shows up the next day, also unexpectedly, and everyone has to work through a tangled web of complex interpersonal relationships and suppressed feelings.

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Earlier this week, our own Cole Abaius announced the first wave of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival‘s film lineup. That assault was impressive enough, complete with lots of compelling picks in the World Narrative Feature Competition, World Documentary Feature Competition
, and Viewpoints sections, but today’s release of the final feature film sections is a whole other volley of firepower. With today’s announcement of their Spotlight, Cinemania, Special Screenings, and the 2012 Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival, the fest has completed their feature announcements – and made me start to wonder if I should try to hit Gotham for the festival, running April 18 – 29. Picks that stand out to me already include the delightful 2 Days in New York, Chicken With Plums, Don’t Stop Believin': Everyman’s Journey, The Giant Mechanical Man, Headshot, Lola Versus, Take This Waltz, Your Sister’s Sister, and Sleepless Night. Check out the full list of films (along with Tribeca-provided synopses) after the break.

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There’s a solid chance that you haven’t heard of most of these movies. Yet they exist – out there somewhere as a thorn in the side of movie fans trying to see as much as possible. Nuggets of potential waiting to be picked up from the movie orphanage by a distributor and given a warm home with cup holders in every seat. The European Film Market is fascinating for that reason and for the way people attend it. Tickets this year were around $600, but that’s a reasonable price for companies sending representatives trying to find the next moneymaker for their company or the hot movie to bring to their festival. That means screenings come complete with people on cell phones and unimpressed buyers walking out after ten minutes to hustle next door to see if the other movie playing has any promise to it. It’s a bizarre way to watch movies, but it makes a kind of sense given the massive size of the movie list compared to the tiny amount of time to see everything. There were upwards of 675 movies in the EFM this year, all of them with their own selling points. Here are the 87 most interesting-sounding with descriptions found in the official catalog. For the most part, I haven’t seen these movies (and didn’t even know about many of them until the Berlin Film Festival), but they all have something going for them that should earn them a spot on your radar.

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Welcome to Day Two of Kate Christmas. Yesterday, the 2012 Sundance Film Festival announced their first wave of programming, featuring twenty-six titles that will be screening in competition. While the arrival of those titles was enough to send me into a tizzy I have still not recovered from, today the festival has only piled on the pre-holiday goodies with the announcement of their Spotlight, Next, Park City at Midnight, and New Frontiers films. A few titles of note to get your juices flowing – Gareth Evans‘ The Raid (also known round these parts as “oh, hell yeah”), Andrea Arnold‘s take on Wuthering Heights, Katie Aselton‘s second directorial outing Black Rock (scripted by her husband Mark Duplass), Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, Mike Birbiglia and Seth Barrish‘s Sleepwalk With Me (based on Birbiglia’s hilarious book), and Lynn Shelton‘s Your Sister’s Sister. Again, that’s just a taste, so check out the full list of Spotlight, Next, Park City at Midnight, and New Frontiers films after the break.

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