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Hannah and Her Sister, and Jack

Thursday 12 April 2012

Think back to the movie The Big Picture (Kevin Bacon, Emily Longstreth, 1989). In it, Bacon is the aspiring director, fresh out of film school, who runs lens-first into the reality of getting a movie made in Hollywood. This was well before IFC, before Sundance had become the behemoth it now is, so the plot line of making an indie wouldn’t have worked–Bacon’s character had to work within the system, or perish.

In that movie, many versions of Bacon’s film were postulated in vignette form. The version he wound up making, the quiet, reflective version, the “art house” version, is the one at the end. You just know that even though he’s made his vision, it’s going to tank at the box office; it has absolutely no appeal to the crucial male 16-24 demographic. There’s another version, the penultimately zany one, not the one with the kids playing with a beach ball in the living room; no, the one right before that, the one in which the four adult characters are in the living room at the fireplace, and the couple selection process takes a different turn.

I suggest that Not That Funny is the art house version; Your Sister’s Sister is somewhere between that one and the penultimately zany one. There’s Jack, who’s closest to his merry band’s not-so-recent tragedy; there’s Iris, who was also close, and who is Jack’s best friend; and there’s Hannah, Iris’s sister who’s also had recent personal life problems (note how I neatly skate around the spoilers? /pirouette). But YSS is definitely less introspective and more interactive, at least among the three main characters (and they’re really the ones we spend the whole time with.) It’s a much more rambunctious and energetic film, and goes places in the first third that NTF never got to, or wanted to get to; each was true to its form and theme, so no foul called on either. The characters in YSS are more vibrant, more saturated; it’s like trying to compare Gauguin to Monet.

If you want a date night movie and you’re closer to 30 than 40, watch for YSS to show up on IFC. If you want a date night movie and you’re closer to 50 than 40, watch for NTF to eventually hit mass distribution in some form. If you’re closer to 40, rejoice! You have two excellent films to savor.

Your Sister’s Sister: Highly recommended. Adult situations and language, but probably PG-13.

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