This Week at the Movies: ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,’ ‘Sisters’

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We probably don’t have to tell you what movie is out today. It’s kind of inescapable! The good news is it’s worth seeing – and if it’s sold out, there are (surprisingly enough) some other options as well.

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits multiplexes battling two warring sets of expectations: the unadulterated (and nostalgia-infused) affection for the “original trilogy,” and the festering disappointment of the prequels. Under the sure hand of J.J. Abrams, and thanks to the considerable charm of not only old faves but new protagonists Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, the series roars back to life. Our review is here; earlier in the week, Sarah Seltzer took a glance back at the role women have played in the Star Wars universe. Oh, and don’t give us any guff about spoilers. (In wide release.)
  • You’ve kinda gotta wonder about the wisdom of opening the new Tina Fey/Amy Poehler comedy Sisters today; sure, we get “counter-programming,” but Star Wars seems like one of those movies were demographics don’t really apply, because everybody wants to see it. That said, it’s always good to have an overflow title for the inevitable sell-outs, and you could do a lot worse than this frequently funny (and surprisingly raunchy) old school comedy-team effort. Our review is here; a full week of Tina and Amy love is here. (In wide release.)
  • One of the year’s most acclaimed foreign films hits art houses today as well (now that’s counter-programming). László Nemes’ Son of Saul is a brutal yet intimate story of a Hungarian Jew working in a concentration camp, and the mission that becomes his obsession. It’s a film of horrible reality and harrowing immediacy – read more in this month’s indie guide. (In limited release.)
  • And finally, Russell Brand goes Michael Moore with The Emperor’s New Clothes, a freewheeling look at income inequality, which the comedian crafted with director Michael Winterbottom (The Trip, 24 Hour Party People). There’s more than a little choir-preaching, but it’s an informative, enlightening, and frequently funny look at the scourge of “free market fundamentalism.” Here’s what we wrote about it at the Tribeca Film Festival. (In limited release and on demand.)