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Overrated / Underrated

January 19, 2013

UNDERRATED

'Your Sister's Sister' (2012): Now on DVD, this lightly twisted romantic comedy has a syntaxically challenging title, but it's a sure bet as new offerings grow slim at theaters. Starring Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt and the seemingly everywhere Mark Duplass, this film uses a lush Pacific Northwest setting for a rich, intimate look at how relationships can grow more powerful the more unconventional they become.

Kurt Rosenwinkel's 'Star of Jupiter': One of top talents in contemporary jazz guitar, Rosenwinkel sounds as virtuosic as ever on this 2012 double album. But for all his fleet-fingered acrobatics and sometimes-divisive vocal harmonies, Rosenwinkel is braced every step of the way by a band that includes keyboard phenom Aaron Parks and drummer Justin Faulkner, who boasts a taut mix of grace and drive.

OVERRATED

'Downton Abbey': It's tough to knock anything on the ever-underrated PBS, but for all the cultish devotion this series inspires, you'd think it would deliver more than lush costumes and set design. Maggie Smith's one-liners remain acidic delights, but the two bad seeds in the servants' quarters stubbornly defy any new growth or evolution, and the drama around its central couples carries a soapy bluster this show should outclass.

Nerd culture: It's turned Comic-Con into Hollywood's promotional playground and birthed unfortunate new words like "adorkable." Now, as we band together to show just how quirkily nonconformist we are, let's recognize that when plastic-framed glasses are on nearly every face and superhero and/or fantasy movies are the biggest hits, it's not an underserved subculture anymore. Congratulations, everyone — you fit in.

— Chris Barton

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