August 24, 2014, - 3:57 pm

Wknd Box Office: If I Stay, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, When the Game Stands Tall, Code Black, Life After Beth, Are You Here

by Debbie Schlussel

Sorry that I’m so late in putting up this week’s movie reviews, but there were six of them, none of them I liked much, and I couldn’t get ‘em up in time before the Jewish Sabbath. In any event, this has to be the crappiest weekend for movies in the crappiest summer for movies that I can remember. So here they are:

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* “If I Stay“: More like, Stay Away! Yet another cloying, manipulative, overwrought, melodrama-filled movie based on a Young Adult novel. Long, boring, and annoying. I couldn’t wait for this to end, and each time you thought (and hoped like hell) it would, it trudged onward.

The story: a couple of pretentious hipsters in America’s Northwest (Seattle, Portland, or some other such overgrown hipster colony–I forgot which one and just don’t care) have a good girl daughter (Chloe Grace Moretz) who likes to play the cello and is quite good at it. She has a chance to go to Juilliard. But she also has a hipster-style boyfriend who is in a band, and he wants to stay in the Northwest. By the way, her parents were in a rock band–well, her father was, and her mother was a groupie. And they don’t seem to like that their daughter is a good girl. They encourage her to stay out all night with the boyfriend, when she comes home early, and other such annoying absentee/immature/friend-as-parent, hipsteresque behavior. GUH-REAAAT parenting.







One day, the whole family is on the road in the same car, when snow is falling, and they get into a car accident. Everyone is rushed to the hospital. The parents are dead, and the son and good girl daughter are in a coma, struggling to survive. The girl’s ghost is outside of her body, watching her grandparents, parents’ friends, and her own friends, all visiting her and urging her to wake up. Stitched in are memories of her life with the parents and boyfriend.

Don’t waste your time on this dull, maudlin snoozer.

TWO-AND-A-HALF MARXES
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* “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For“: I never saw the first “Sin City” movie, so apparently you can see this without that one and basically know everything that’s going on. The problem is there is no point in seeing this horribly violent movie. Gratuitous violence, torture, and blood dominate this movie, which is too bad, because it is shot in a very cool, sharp, black and white, with strategic pops of bright color (I saw it in 3D, but you’re fine without that).

The stories are tragic and bleak, and I’m not sure what the point is, other than to get you to voluntarily transfer your money to Hollywood stars and filmmakers who want to also rob you of your time in the process. The stories, which intertwine are about various crooks and desperados: a stripper (Jessica Alba) whose love was murdered and she wants revenge; a gambler (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who has a lot of luck and is the illegitimate son of an evil U.S. Senator who is a thug and wants him dead; a woman (Eva Green) who wants her rich husband murdered so she can collect the money, and so she sets up a lover (Josh Brolin) to kill him; and then there is Mickey Rourke, who is from the dark, welfare-ridden ghetto that is Sin City.

Cool cinematography of gratuitously violent, pointless garbage. Don’t waste your time.

By the way, I don’t need to see this because, hey, I live in Detroit (or close enough).

THREE MARXES
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* “When the Game Stands Tall“: While this is generally another predictable, cliche-filled high school football movie, it did have a religious Christian element, which was positively portrayed, so that gains points with me. I also liked a scene in which the high school football team goes to the hospital to help amputee military veterans with their rehab.

Still, I wasn’t sure what the point of this movie was. The story–about a real life coach at a Catholic high school in California–is filled with inconsistencies and multiple directions. The coach’s wife and son are upset with him because he spends all of his time on the football team and not family. And, yet, his wife urges him to take a college coaching job–at Stanford, no less–where he would have even less time for them. The coach has a medical problem, like a heart attack (though they never say what it is), as he is under pressure to continue his team’s non-stop winning streak. But, then, at the end, his star player refuses to break the state’s touchdown record and takes a knee repeatedly to “honor the coach.” Ridiculous. Yup, the movie honors communism, not individual recognition. Yuck.

And, mostly, I found this movie to be a bore. Among high school football movies, this was not one of the best ones and it was somewhat disjointed. Because of the favorable Christian stuff (rare for Hollywood), I am being very generous when I give this . . .

ONE REAGAN
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* “Code Black“: I’m not sure what the point of this boring, repetitive documentary was, other than to tell me that I need ObamaCare so that illegal aliens and all real Americans can have crappy emergency room care like the people who go to Los Angeles County Hospital and can wait up to 24 hours to be seen by a doctor. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Also, maybe the point was for me to hear a young Asian doctor swearing, telling of his life of living Asian stereotypes, and talking about how he “d*cked around” (yeah, just the guy I’d want treating me!). Or maybe the point was for me to hear from a preppy-looking doc about how his illegal alien . . . er, “undocumented immigrant,” friend didn’t have access to medical care (when it appears the alien actually had better health care than the rest of us).

This movie was only 1.5 hours but seemed like it went on forever. It wasn’t well done or edited, and didn’t have a tight and interesting narrative (as is the case with decent documentaries). I wouldn’t pay ten bucks to see this. In fact, the only way I’d go see this–if I didn’t have to review it–was if you paid me. And you’d have to pay me well to sit through this.

FOUR MARXES
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* “Life After Beth“: This “comedy” isn’t funny, but it’s supposed to be some kind of parody of zombie movies or something. The makers of this should have left that to the professionals at “The Walking Dead.” This was boring and pointless, and I felt like a time bandit just robbed me of almost two hours of my life.

The story: A guy’s girlfriend comes back to life after she died of a snake bite. But she soon becomes a zombie. And suddenly many others are coming back to life, but they are dangerous and kill and eat people (the movie, thankfully, doesn’t really show much of this), so people fight back, and then, suddenly, it’s all over. The end.

A total waste of time and money.

THREE MARXES
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* “Are You Here“: Another absolutely awful, entirely unfunny “comedy.” Matthew Weiner, the creator, writer, director, and producer of “Mad Men” is trying to show those who ask that he’s more than a one-trick pony, as he wrote and directed this absolutely malodorous dung heap. The answer is a resounding “NO.” This was just plain terrible.

Owen Wilson plays a sleazy, lascivious weatherman who is irresponsible, says gross things on the air, and does a lot of drugs. His crazy friend, Zach Galifianakis, plays the same role he plays in every movie, especially “The Hangover” movies. The only difference is that he is an animal rights nut in this movie. Galifianakis’ father dies and leaves everything to him. Wilson is trying to get in on the money, too, as he’s also trying to get in bed with the father’s young, hippie chick widow. Amish people are thrown into this horrible story, as they, too, apparently must be abused by Matthew Weiner’s lack of talent blatantly on display in this trash. I’m not sure why the Amish are in this, but as with everything else in this movie, Weiner just threw stuff in, tossed it around, and said, hey, it’s a movie–go see it!

Um, no it isn’t, and you shouldn’t. Another time and money bandit you should avoid as if it were AIDS.

FOUR MARXES PLUS FOUR BIN LADENS
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20 Responses

By the way, since Communism was mentioned in one of the reviews, I thought I’d mention that a masterful new book:

Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters – Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler Hardcover – is coming out approximately January 5, 2015, by Allan H. Ryskind, son of the famous screenwriter.

Little Al on August 24, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    Al, I’ll check out Allan Ryskind’s when it’s released. But you should know that Allan’s father, Morrie, was a devoted Marxist, having written some great scripts filled with Marxist ideology, including “Animal Crackers,” “Room Service,” and “A Night at the Opera.”

    Ralph Adamo on August 25, 2014 at 2:56 am

      Perfect, Ralph. Not only was the senior Mr. Ryskind a scribe of Marxist ideology, he was a personal comrade of Marx.

      SomeDame on September 2, 2014 at 3:32 pm

If I had a family like that, I would try haunting a house. The other movies look just as bad.

Worry01 on August 24, 2014 at 4:58 pm

I liked “When the Game Stands Tall”. It has nothing to do with communism. If the score had been tied and another TD was necessary to win, he would have gotten the record. Team efforts are just that. Some coaches are okay with personal achievement, some are not. As a coach at a Catholic school,
he was tying together Scriptural passages of Christian living
(noted in various scenes)with their actions on the field. “He must increase, I must decrease”.

Elaine Steffek on August 24, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Huh? It’s effing feetsball.

    I’m tired of people thinking God gives 2 ****s about feetsball or any other sport. Tired of athletes that live quite un-Christian lives pointing to the heavens in a LOOKATME that is about as un-Christian, un-humble as it gets.

    And apparently this coach wasn’t too humble if he allowed this movie to happen considering it’s about him.

    PitandPen on August 24, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    I liked this movie too, but I wanted to see more about his coaching style and philosophy. It seemed to be too much about the players. Who cares about the players? They come and go but this coach has been around a long time and been a success. Why? How?

    Tommy Thomas on August 24, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    @Elaine–

    “He must increase, I must decrease”. John the Baptist was referring to Jesus. Really think that this should apply to a football coach?

    Prometheus on August 25, 2014 at 8:23 am

…and I’m not sure what the point is, other than to get you to voluntarily transfer your money to Hollywood stars and filmmakers who want to also rob you of your time in the process…

I lol’d.

Larry Durham on August 24, 2014 at 6:49 pm

I am so friggin’ out of the loop, I’ve not even heard of one of these movies. I think I’ve been to the theater a total of 3x’s in 17 yrs.

Laura S. on August 24, 2014 at 9:16 pm

I saw Sin City 2 this weekend. Not bad, but pales in comparison to the original.

Funny how Jessica Alba is a stripper who dances with more clothes on than a college cheerleader.

I liked the Eva Green part. The rest was just “eh.” Jessica Alba is much better seen and heard from little. She was great in the original because she was working alongside Bruce Willis, but here she has a bigger role and nobody wants to see her as some grumpy dame.

They wasted the glorious Rosario Dawson and really miss Clive Owen.

Jeff_W on August 24, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    Here’s where I agree with Jeff_W concerning Sin City 2: The film was okay even though it wasn’t as good as Sin City 1; Jessica Alba can’t act; Rosario Dawson is “glorious”; Alba’s strip routine wearing all those clothes was laughable. However, I personally liked the poker scenes more than those with Eva Green because I appreciated the deadpan humor (as for example when it turned out that Gordon-Levitt was “ambidextrous”).

    Sin City is film noir as many have point out (in this case approaching parody), and this genre is problematic for conservatives because it tends to romanticize lawlessness and antiheroes. However, this particular noir was old school rather than millennial-androgynous revisionist, so at least gender differences between the tough guys and “dames” were left intact.

    Also, I’m relieved when Richard Rodriguez (who helped with the screenplay here) creates pulp fantasies that annoy liberals (critics were calling this film “misogynistic”) rather than conservatives like myself (as he did with the hateful film Machete).

    I liked all the new faces in this film including Gordon-Levitt; Dennis Haysbert as the hired muscle; and Juno Temple who often plays (as she did here) the role of the loose woman with an angel’s face.

    All of Debbie’s criticisms are well taken, too, but as she points out, this is a disastrous summer for movies, and beggars like myself can’t always be choosers. At least this film wasn’t an advertisement for Obama and liberals (as was “Boyhood” which I detested) or Al Gore (as was “Into the Storm” which argued that Hurricane Sandy proves that tornadoes will soon be ripping apart Los Angeles–so everyone needs to stop all their global warming right now!).

    Burke on August 25, 2014 at 12:42 pm

your reviews are safe this week, schlussel… i didn’t go to the movies this weekend.

kirche61 on August 25, 2014 at 9:23 am

I saw “Sin City” this last weekend and agree with most of Jeff_W’s comments: the film was fine even if not as good as the first; Bruce Willis’ larger role in the story was missed; Jessica Alba can’t act; Rosario Dawson is “glorious”; Alba’s strip routine where she wore all those clothes was laughable. However, I personally liked the poker scenes more than the story with Eva Green because they added some lightness (as when it turns out that Gordon-Levitt is “ambidextrous” and can shuffle cards with his left hand).

Film noir as a genre (as this film is almost to the point of parody) is always problematic for conservatives because it romanticizes violence and outlaws. However, at least this particular noir was old school rather than millennial-androgynous revisionist, so gender differences between the tough guys and “dames” were left intact.

Also, I’d rather that Rodriguez (who helped with the screenplay) write pulp fantasies that upset liberals (as this one did for it’s “misogyny” as one critic wrote) than conservatives like myself (as did his “Machete”).

I liked all the new faces and characters in this installment including Gordon-Levitt; Dennis Haysbert as the hired muscle; and Juno Temple who often plays (as she did here) the role of a loose woman with an angel’s face.

Debbie’s criticisms are well taken, too, but as she points out, this is a disastrous summer for movies, and beggars like myself can’t always be choosers. At least this film wasn’t an advertisement for Obama and liberals (as was “Boyhood,” which I detested) or Al Gore (as was “Into the Storm, which claimed that Hurricane Sandy proved that tornadoes will soon be ripping apart Los Angeles).

Burke on August 25, 2014 at 11:14 am

I also saw Sin City 2 this weekend and agree with most of Jeff_W’s comments.

Burke on August 25, 2014 at 11:57 am

I think the sad fact is “liberals” in Hollywood really need a decent Republican in the White House to get motivated enough to churn out some half decent subversive material.

“There’s no justice without sin” because there’s no need for justice without sinful injustice.
Unless you’re just into random acts of justice for the hell of it which does actually sound your typical libtard.
That’s a perfect paradox for people who will actually pay to see this garbage.

japple on August 25, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Debbie’s movie reviews are delightful and insightful. My family has stopped watching most movies because we’re fed up with the leftist indoctrination that Hollywood spits out.

samatha on August 25, 2014 at 1:58 pm

The only decent and entertaining football movie, if that’s your métier, is “Friday Night Lights.” Have never seen anything else that can compare, either in story or in enjoyment. If you haven’t ever seen it (hard to believe), get it asap!

jc15 on August 25, 2014 at 11:17 pm

Debbie, have you ever heard of this person: Seyed Fakhrtabatabaei of Campgladiator Head Quarters? I am a former Detroiter now living in the warm weather. This person wants to use one of our city parks to hold his Campgladiator training sessions on a weekly basis. I hate to see a junior Al Qaeda group training here. Know anything about these “people”?

MuzzCrusher on August 26, 2014 at 5:55 pm

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