The dog days of August drag on, as a trio of middling films open. Once again, quality seems to be only at the arthouse.
The likely winner of the box office race this weekend appears to be If I Stay (46), a mawkish adaptation of a YA novel, starring Chloe Grace Moretz. She’s a terrific actress; I saw her in a play earlier this year, but this role seems to be a nonstarter. A. A. Dowd: “Child actors can have a tough time transitioning into adult careers, their charm often evaporating with the onset of puberty. But for Chloë Grace Moretz, the trouble isn’t growing pains; she’s just overqualified for the roles Hollywood tends to offer young women her age.”
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (45) is the long-awaited sequel from Richard Rodriguez and Frank Miller. I was unimpressed with the first one, seeing it as a prime example of style over substance, but I may see this if I’m bored this weekend, if only for Eva Green’s boobs. Betsy Sharkey: “There is an interesting kernel of a story about beauty, betrayal and brutality inside each of the film’s scenarios and a cast that could handle anything thrown at it. But the kernel never pops, and all we’re really left with is a whole lot of neo-noir corn.”
When the Game Stands Tall (41) is another of those sports/character films, this time about a winning program that loses a game. Boo hoo! For a game that revels in violence, it sure is put forth as something great for God and country. Jordan Hoffman: ““Hoosiers” this ain’t. The redemptive final game has some nice plays and bone-crunching sound effects, but no grit. Ultimately, it’s a ho-hum, bromide-filled production undeserving of a victory dance.”
The highlight in the arthouses this week is Love Is Strange (84) about a longtime gay couple who marry, setting off unforeseen events. The couple is played by John Lithgow and Alfred Molina. Keith Phipps: “Neither Molina nor Lithgow are stranger to big performances, but here, they offer studies in restraint, underplaying dramatic moments in ways that make them all the more powerful.”
The One I Love (64) stars Marc Duplass and Elisabeth Moss as a couple who attend a couples’ retreat. There’s some kind of twist about it that no one is revealing. Peter Travers: “If you survive that wrenching plot curve (some won’t), you’re in for an emotional workout. Knowing you’ve never seen anything like this, Moss and Duplass let it rip. You’ve been warned.”
Finally, Jersey Shore Massacre (5). Please be a documentary.