Straight A’s (2013)

Straight A’s
Director: James Cox
Writer: Dave Cole
Cast: Ryan Phillippe, Anna Paquin, Luke Wilson, Riley Thomas Stewart, Ursula Parker, Amparo Garcia-Crow, Augustin Solis, Tess Harper, Powers Boothe, Christa Campbell
Seen on: 30.4.2020

Plot:
Scott (Ryan Phillippe) is the family screw-up and he hasn’t shown his face at home in a while. But after he has a vision of his dead mother (Tess Harper) telling him to make amends with his brother William (Luke Wilson), his sister-in-law and first love Katherine (Anna Paquin) and his father (Powers Boothe), Scott just shows up at Katherine’s home while William is on a business trip. As he waits for William to return, Scott causes an uproar for Katherine and her kids (Riley Thomas Stewart, Ursula Parker) who take a shine to their newly discovered uncle. Scott himself is uneasy with his own plan, drunk all the time and really not all that well.

Straight A’s is so firmly rooting for Scott without really acknowledging his many flaws or interested in him making up for past (and current) transgressions, that it is just annoying. I didn’t care for redeeming Scott, I wanted to strangle him instead. The film can’t work that way.

On a sidenote: in a film that is obviously trying to be smart and deep and that is so firmly rooted in its own privilege, that incorrect apostrophe in the title is annoying as fuck.

The film poster showing Katherine (Anna Paquin), Scott (Ryan Philippe) and William (Luke Wilson). An arrow points from Scott to Katherine with "He loves her", another arrow from Katherine to William with "She's married to his brother".

[SPOILERS]

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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
Writer: Frank Miller
Based on: Frank Miller’s comics
Sequel/Prequel to: Sin City
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Josh BrolinEva Green, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Powers Boothe, Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta, Christopher MeloniJeremy PivenChristopher Lloyd, Juno TempleStacy KeachMarton Csokas, Jamie Chung, Julia GarnerJaime King, Lady Gaga, Bruce Willis

Plot [with SPOILERS for the first film]:
Basin City is called Sin City for a reason. A town full of crooked politicians, even more crooked cops, murderers, sex workers and pretty much everyone who was thrown out everywhere else. Marv (Mickey Rourke) spends most of his time when he isn’t fighting with somebody in a strip club where Nancy (Jessica Alba) dances. Nancy is still hung up on Hartigan’s (Bruce Willis) suicide to save her and tries to kill Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) who is to blame and regularly plays poker at her club. He always wins, of course, until Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) shows up. But the Senator can’t have people beating him. Dwight (Josh Brolin) is also at the strip club a lot. He is still obsessed with his ex Ava (Eva Green) who suddenly shows up in his life again and severely disrupting it in the process. Now he needs Marv’s help.

I couldn’t tell you what the difference was between the first film and the second since it looks equally great, has an equally good cast and tells equally problematic stories. But in Sin City everything works. In Sin City: A Dame to Kill For I spent very long stretches feeling very bored.

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Re-Watch: Sin City (2005)

Sin City
Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, (Quentin Tarantino)
Writer: Frank Miller
Based on: Frank Miller’s comics
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Jessica AlbaElijah Wood, Rosario Dawson, Benicio Del Toro, Powers Boothe, Michael Clarke DuncanRutger Hauer, Michael Madsen, Devon AokiJosh Hartnett, Alexis BledelJaime King, Carla Gugino, Brittany Murphy, Nick Offerman, Nick Stahl

Plot:
Basin City is called Sin City for a reason. A town full of crooked politicians, even more crooked cops, murderers, sex workers and pretty much everyone who was thrown out everywhere else. After the last good cop Hartigan (Bruce Willis) saved Nancy (Jessica Alba) from a pedophile and Senator’s son (Nick Stahl), he had to take the fall for it. But now he is out of prison and full of worry for Nancy’s continued safety. Nancy works as a stripper in a local club. At that same club, Shelly (Brittany Murphy) works as a waitress and she’s freshly in love with Dwight (Clive Owen). But her ex Jackie (Benicio Del Toro) is not done with her yet and Dwight suddenly finds himself in over his head in the part of town run by the sex workers. One of them (Jaime King) was just murdered – while Marv (Mickey Rourke) slept next to her no less. Now Marv is determined to find her killer and to exact vengeance.

I remember when I first saw Sin City – I was completely blown away by it (back then I was also a rather unaware baby-feminist, so I barely noticed the incredible sexism). Now I look at it with a more critical eye, but it’s still an awesome film.

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