Opening in the U.S, August 22, 2014

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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.

About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

2 responses »

  1. Last week the expected big new film was The Expendables 3 and this week it’s a sequel to a 2005 film that no one really cried out for? No wonder this US summer season has been so flat when it’s being scheduled as if run by Cannon films.

    It’s rather curious how Moretz keeps getting treated as one of the most popular young actresses going around when her box office record is largely terrible. She seems to be popular with critics but has never really connected with the public at all. Even this film ‘If I Stay’ seems to be performing below expectations

  2. Considering how unpromising the Sin City sequel seemed and how little of note Rodriguez has done in recent years, it’s surprising actors the calibre of Gordon-Levitt & Brolin are wasting their time in it.

    Gordon-Levitt has done well enough recently to be able to afford one dud, but Brolin’s really had a bad run recently (Oldboy, Labor Day) and this seems a waste.

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