Your Sister’s Sister. d:Lynn Shelton. s:Rosemarie DeWitt, Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass

Lynn Shelton (Humpday) tells the story of an unlikely threesome spending a week at a cabin together. Mark Duplass (Humpday, Baghead) is still mourning his brother who died a year before. Emily Blunt (The Young Victoria, The Devil Wears Prada) is his best friend and the ex-girlfriend of his dead brother and Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married) is Blunt’s sister, a lesbian and a vegan. No US release date for this Toronto premiere.

Howard Feinstein, Screen Daily:

“Shelton’s Humpday was a cut above other mumblecore films. Sure, there was the generic talking and sparring over the dining table, but it also addressed some serious topics, like what might be lurking under veneer of masculinity. With Your Sister’s Sister, an appealing feast of expressive dialogue, excellent performances (much of it improvised), and striking cinematography, she elevates the brand several notches. Its maturity and confidence allow it to cross over into Wally Shawn and Woody Allen talkfest territory.”

Eric Kohn, indieWIRE:

“[Shelton's Humpday] follow-up doesn’t expand her range but applies it differently. Your Sister’s Sister is another highly enjoyable relationship comedy, but a far quieter and contained work. Fortunately, Shelton stays within the boundaries of the material without overextending it, reaffirming the effectiveness of her homegrown approach…While not an unbridled crowdpleaser on par with Humpday, this smaller achievement is endearing for other reasons. The excessive chatter flows nicely thanks to fine-tuned performances and the chemistry to sustain them. Duplass’ feisty energy is matched by DeWitt’s constant smarminess, while Blunt’s shy, fragile behavior balances off the forceful personalities surrounding her. When Your Sister’s Sister dips into formula, replete with tired confrontations and sentimental monologues, it loses some of its raw energy. But that misstep is redeemed by the last shot. Like Humpday, it leaves the precise fate of the characters open-ended. Shelton’s skill involves an ability to explore familiar situations with a flair for ambiguity, but plenty of payoff.”

Kevin Jagernauth, Playlist:

“The actual concept of the story is quite good but unfortunately Shelton takes far too long to get it in motion…The opening party and the night at the cabin before Iris arrives easily comprise the first third of the film, but nothing justifies the luxurious length of time it spends here, basking in its talky, chatty scenes (for a moment, it was going on so long we were beginning to wonder if Blunt’s appearance was merely going to be cameo). Duplass and DeWitt share great chemistry and are mildly amusing as they trade stories and smart remarks, but there is nothing here that you wouldn’t find when overhearing two friends talk at a hip coffee shop. Realistic? Perhaps. But even at a coffee shop you tend to zone those overheard conversations out, and we found ourselves doing the same here as they kept going on (and on and on).”

Update:

John DeFore, THR:

“Following up Humpday with another low-rent charmer about a thirtysomething dude trying to find his way, Lynn Shelton moves from two- to three-character dynamics in Your Sister’s Sister. Though it lacks the outrageous premise that helped the last film break through, the writer/director’s growing reputation should ensure an eager audience at theaters.”

Hysteria. d:Tanya Wexler s:Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy, Jonathan Pryce, Rupert Everett

A comedy revolving around the Victorian era invention of the vibrator, originally used to cure women of hysteria. Check out a trailer here.

David Rooney, THR:

“Delivering a tickle more often than a sustained buzz, Tanya Wexler’s romantic comedy about the invention of the electric vibrator in Victorian London, Hysteria, is a pleasurable diversion, even if it could have used a touch more spark in the writing… Much of the humor…is more droll than genuinely witty, and the prurient sexual stuff occasionally gets strained. But while Wexler’s pacing can become a little stodgy at times, the film has a sweetness that keeps you watching. This is helped by the relaxed charms of Dancy, who wears his mutton-chop sideburns and dapper period garb well, and the luminous Gyllenhaal, whose boisterous, vaguely contemporary energy here fits with her character’s hunger for emancipation.”

Stephanie Zacharek, Movieline:

“A tribute to vibrators and the women who love them, Tanya Wexler’s Hysteria is a jaunty little entertainment that’s almost plowed under by its early-suffragette arguments for women’s equality. But like the little motorized whatsit that is its subject, the movie’s charms are ultimately irresistible.”

Moira McDonald, Seattle Times:

“Just your basic little Victorian-era tale of a couple of guys who invented the vibrator. One of the guys is played by Rupert Everett, that man for whom presumably the word ‘languid’ was invented, and it’s a disappointment that he’s barely in the film; just showing up every now and then to purr out a few lines. But it’s a pleasantly cheery little film, with Maggie Gyllenhaal trotting out a nice British accent. I suspect I will have entirely forgotten Hysteria in a couple of days — it’s not very substantial — but it’s fun while it lasts.”

Allan Hunter, Screen Daily:

“The story of how the electric vibrator was invented suggests all kinds of cinematic possibilities from an informative, penetrating documentary to a Carry On Climaxing-style saucy romp. Screenwriters Stephen Dyer and Jonah Lisa Dyer resist the latter temptation in Hysteria, creating a sweet romantic comedy with a social conscience and a sense of humour that is unlikely to offend any but the most prudish of viewers…Nicely paced and neatly told, Hysteria is jolly good fun. It could never be called cutting-edge but it has a sure populist touch and should hit the spot with a largely female audience who flocked to Calendar Girls and similar tales of female empowerment.

Updated:

Dennis Harvey, Variety:

“Tanya Wexler’s Hysteria feels much like what would result if one took the conceptual gist of Sara Ruhl’s sublimely witty play In the Next Room, put it through committee-driven script development, and aimed for the kind of boisterous costume crowdpleaser that congratulates its audience for enjoying such refined entertainment even as it panders.”

The Lady. d:Luc Besson. s:Michelle Yeoh, David Thewlis

The French action director tackles the story of real life Burmese activist, Aung San Suu Kyi. No US distributor.

David Rooney, THR:

“Luc Besson trades his usual muscular action and pumped-up visual style for a stately inspirational epic…Presumably, Besson responded to something in the story that prompted him to step outside his comfort zone, but exactly what that was is unclear in this well-intentioned but pedestrian retelling of a stirring true story…Prime weakness is British filmmaker/novelist Rebecca Frayn’s by-the-numbers screenplay. With wooden dialogue and little sense of narrative economy, the overlong film trudges through decades of turbulent recent history via an approach that’s part old-fashioned miniseries and part simplistic after-school special.”

Damon Wise, Guardian:

“The dialogue is flat, the performances creaky and, in the wake of George Clooney’s much more sophisticated The Ides of March, its depiction of the political world borders on cartoonish…Quite why Suu made the sacrifices she did…is never really explained, other than it was the right thing to do. This may be the case but it is not cinematic, and the film’s vast hordes of extras do not make up for what’s missing from the script. Yeoh is noble but detached; Thewlis, though he tries hard, is miscast in the kind of role Jim Broadbent has patented; and, worst of all, the couple’s two boys are given the clunkiest, least realistic lines in the movie…This should be a dynamic film about a dynamic couple; instead, it might as well be titled Aung San Suu Kyi: Housewife Superstar.”

Kate Taylor, Globe and Mail:

“[Suu Kyi's] remarkable personal sacrifice is the theme of Luc Besson’s biopic, but its only drama is provided by Burma’s sadistic military junta: If Suu Kyi…ever know[s] a doubt, we don’t see it here. A simplistic script is marred by leaden dialogue and odd choices about when to use English or Burmese; performances by Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis are as two-dimensional as the writing.”

From Up on Poppy Hill. d:Goro Miyazaki

Set during the run-up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Hayao Miyazaki’s son Goro tells the simple story Umi, a high school junior who has to fend for herself while her mother is away in America. Check out the Japanese trailer. Debuted in Japan over the summer and hit North America at the Toronto International Film Festival but doesn’t have a US distributor.

Kirk Honeycutt, THR:

“Sometimes the apple does fall far from the tree as seems to be the case for Goro Miyazaki, son of legendary anime master Hayao Miyazaki. He’s made two animation features now and neither has come close to the sheer magic of Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle or Princess Mononoke. Which is not to say he isn’t getting better. His 2006 Tales from Earthsea was a real wet noodle while From Up on Poppy Hill, to which papa gives an assist by co-writing the screenplay, is a sweet and sentimental ode to 1960s Japan. It’s a decent anime for the home market but, boy, is it old-fashioned.”

Daniel Walber, Spout:

“The film showcases the spirit that helped this generation come to terms with the war wounds of the Japanese past, rebuild a community and balance this confluence of preservation and innovation. And, perhaps more impressively, it coaxes us into feeling that very same spirit. Exquisite animation and a light-hearted and jazzy musical score will transport you back to the early 60s, in the most charming way possible.”

Todd Brown, Twitch:

“The sort of simple, naturalistic story that Studio Ghibli hasn’t really tackled since Whispers Of The Heart, From Up On Poppy Hill features all the gorgeous artwork that you would expect from a Studio Ghibli film. The sheer craftsmanship on display here is astounding and it is balanced with a careful attention to detail and character that grants as much importance to the quiet moments as it does to any of the plot events. It’s an approach that has served Ghibli well in the past and it continues to deliver impressive results here, though Poppy Hill – like Whispers Of The Heart – seems destined to be viewed as a more secondary entry in a canon that includes classics like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro.”

Scott Tobias, AV Club:

“Miyazaki evokes the charm of creaky old wooden floors and shows his hero and heroine standing up for longstanding cultural traditions in the face of a society eager to show a new face to the world for the 1964 Olympics. It’s all very lovely and sweet, and while this story would be just as engaging in live action, Miyazaki’s animation clears away the extraneous detail, recreating the world of 50 years ago with the emotional richness of a family snapshot.”

4 Responses to “Festival Falderal Round 11: Sister Lady’s Victorian Vibrator”

  1. It’s exciting to know that Goro Miyazaki is following in his father’s footsteps, and he’s coming with more than name value.

  2. It sounds like he’s getting better as he goes too.

  3. I agree that in this round-up it’s Goro Miyazaki’s film that is most interesting.

  4. I was curious about The Lady, and still kind of am, but the reviews didn’t think much of it.

    Also intertested in Your Sister’s Sister. I like the cast at least.

Leave a Reply


Tiny Subscribe to Comments





  • LiC on Twitter

  • Archives

All material copyright 2007-2012 by Craig Kennedy unless otherwise stated