Film Reviews

SIN CITY

By • Apr 1st, 2005 •

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QUOTE: Sublime! Visually stunning.

My husband’s decree immediately after leaving the screening: “Anyone who likes that movie is seriously fucked up.”

I never heard of Frank Miller or his graphic novels. This is a good thing. SIN CITY should not be just for Miller fans and devotees of graphic comic books. SIN CITY is perfect in every way, from the dialogue, casting, story, and the overall genius black-and-white presentation.

Mickey Rourke, you can move out of your car. If you stay in your Marv makeup you can be bigger than Tom Cruise. Marv is your Terry Malloy. Benicio Del Toro, they made you look gorgeous as Jackie Boy.

And how right is it to see Rutger Hauer not in a straight-to-Blockbuster movie? Rutger, I still believe Harrison Ford sabotaged your career after BLADE RUNNER. He was jealous of your charmingly depraved, but emotionally riveting, Roy Batty. And Jaime King? Great directing by Miller, Robert Rodriguez, or special guest director Quentin Tarantino made you look like you can act! I would be nitpicking on a fantastic assembled cast if I mentioned less-than-perfect Josh Harnett (The Salesman) and Alexis Bledel (Becky).Why is Brittany Murphy (Shellie) still making movies?

SIN CITY is based on three stories that, like PULP FICTION, loosely tie together. The first main story is “The Hard Good-Bye” about ex-con Marv (Rourke), a scarred monster who wakes up next to a dead hooker, Goldie (Jaime King). Marv decides to avenge her murder and finds the trail leads to Kevin (Elijah Wood, who actually might have a career after LOTR as long as he keeps his mouth shut), a killer who likes to eat his hookers and then mount their heads at his farm. Marv cannot die but slices and dices all that come along his path of vengeance. Marv is helped by Goldie’s twin sister (King, again), also a prostitute.

“The Big Fat Kill” takes place in a town ruled by prostitutes. Gail, the leader, (Rosario Dawson, doing a fabulous nude scene), has made an unholy alliance with cops. Corrupt cop Jack Rafferty (Benicio Del Toro) turns up looking for Dwight (Clive Owen), the current boyfriend of his ex-girlfriend, waitress Shellie. Dwight, a former lover of Gail’s, is followed by Jackie to the prostitute’s stronghold. The gang of killer-prostitutes slaughter Jackie and his men. From then on, SIN CITY is all about Jackie Boy’s decapitated head.

In “That Yellow Bastard,” old, ailing cop John Hartigan (Bruce Willis) rescues an 11 year old girl from Junior (Nick Stahl), a serial killer whose father is a powerful senator (Powers Boothe). Framed, Haritgan goes to prison for eight years. The little girl writes him every week. After getting out, Haritgan finds the girl, Nancy (now Jessica Alba), dancing at a bar swinging a big whip. Nineteen years old, she is in love with the old man who saved her life. But there is a yellow-faced, demon-bastard (Nick Stahl) following them.

Robert Rodriguez did the honorable thing mounting SIN CITY. He said he wanted to do Frank Miller’s SIN CITY, not Robert Rodriguez’s SIN CITY. In sharing a directing credit with the legendary Frank Miller, Rodriguez had to quit the DGA (Director’s Guild of America). He also got the brilliant Quentin Tarantino to be guest director.

For those people horrified by the violence in SIN CITY, it is ultra-cartoonish and cannot be viewed as a primer for teenage serial killers or axe murderers. The audience understands that butchered and decapitated victims do not come back to life. People do not turn into yellow demons with fake phalluses or survive being blown to bits by machine guns. And, all the really bad guys get horribly sacrificed for their misdeeds (especially gruesome is the fate that Marv delivers to Kevin).

The look of SIN CITY is breathtaking. Rodriguez and Miller used DLP Cinema(TM) technology to produce a seductive range of bright blacks and brilliant colors. The entire movie was color-corrected digitally and used a special technique that added “spot” colors to the overall black-and-white photography.

While most of the cast is exceptional, Rourke holds the movie together with an absolute command of the screen. I don’t know yet if it was Rodriguez or Tarantino that cast him as Marv, but Rourke is back and he has SIN CITY to thank for resurrecting his self-acknowledged dead career.

(A dead career may indeed be Rourke’s opinion, but I loved him in SPUN.)

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