Picks of the Week
Your Sister’s Sister
(R, 90 minutes, IFC Films): In filmmaker Lynn Shelton’s highly anticipated follow-up to her breakout film “Humpday,” she once again exhibits tonal control and sensitivity.
Mark Duplass plays a guy named Jack who, as the movie opens, delivers a hostile eulogy at his brother’s funeral. Alarmed, Iris, Jack’s best friend and his late brother’s girlfriend, offers him a getaway at her family’s weekend place on an island in Puget Sound.
Once Jack arrives, he’s met with the unexpected company of Iris’ half-sister, Hannah, whose initial frostiness is melted considerably after a shared bottle of tequila. That thaw leads to complications that only become more fraught once Iris surprises them with a visit of her own.
“Your Sister’s Sister” unfolds with frank, spontaneous ease, taking fascinating emotional corners and, as in “Humpday,” revealing more in those hairpin turns than on the straightaway.
Contains profanity and sexual content.
Extras: British version contains commentary with director Lynn Shelton and cast.
(PG, 97 minutes, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment): This is an improbably charming story about an improbable hero and his efforts to deliver the only present his father forgot to drop off one fateful Christmas eve.
The animated film is funny and good-looking, with an impeccable voice cast of British actors. It’s also unexpectedly fresh. In “Arthur Christmas,” Santa Claus is a job title, handed down from father to son. The current Santa is nearing retirement age. His North Pole-based operation resembles Amazon.com staffed by elf-size Navy SEALs and run by Santa’s No. 1 son, Steve, who is next in the line of succession.
But then a little pink bike is discovered to have been accidentally misplaced, and Steve persuades his father to write it off as an acceptable error. That’s unacceptable, however, to Santa’s second, more idealistic son, Arthur. With his 136-year-old grandfather, a long-retired Santa, Arthur commandeers an old-fashioned sleigh and eight reindeer and sets out to put things right.
Arthur Christmas may be an inept bumbler, but the movie that bears his name (and that shares his big heart) sure isn’t.
Contains tame, but technically impolite, humor.
Extras: “Un-wrapping Arthur Christmas” making-of featurette, five progression reels and “Elf Recruitment Video.”
The Amazing Spider-Man
(PG-13, 138 minutes, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment: This version has been billed as a reboot of the “Spider-Man” franchise.
The not-so-great news is that by “reboot,” the studio means taking audiences once again through every step of Peter’s transformation, including the fateful mutant spider bite, an equally pivotal incident involving his beloved uncle and those first wobbly forays discovering his superhuman powers.
The result is that, for its first hour, it subjects viewers to an origin story they either already know or will find drab and draggy. Things pick up considerably once Peter dons the famous skintight suit, first as an urban avenger on a personal mission, then doing battle with a super-monster called, appropriately, the Lizard.
While fans of the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movies may find themselves wondering whether they really need such an exhaustive refresher, they’ll also no doubt accept Andrew Garfield as the latest iteration of one of Marvel Comics’ most iconic figures.
Contains sequences of action and violence.
Extras: “The Amazing Spider-Man Second Screen App,” including interviews, storyboards, costume tests; behind-the-scenes documentaries; deleted scenes; commentary; stunt rehearsals. Also, in 3D version: “3D 101” with Marc Webb and 3D scene progression reel. The Washington Post