His classmates were readying for their week of freedom - for the aimless bike rides, ice cream cones, sunburns. But R.J. Cutler would not waste his spring break. Just before the bell rang at New York's Great Neck North Junior High, he marched up to his English teacher and declared that, just like Cameron Crowe, he was going to become a professional journalist.

"Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" is a feast for jaded souls of the Tarantino species. Cartoonishly savage and menacingly sexy, it starts so strong that you don't want to blink for fear of breaking its shadowy, black-and-white spell, made even more seductive via 3-D that virtually sends curls of cigarette smoke straight up your nostrils.
Shakespeare knew, or maybe came up with, the first rule of teenager-in-love tales. There must be parental disapproval of Montague-vs.-Capulet proportions, or some other frictional force beyond too-tight jeans, to keep them from dissolving into mush. Because it lacks such tension, "If I Stay" just barely makes the B honor roll, despite a fine job by dark-indie darling Chloe Grace Moretz in her mainstream breakout performance.

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