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Sin City (2005)

With apologies to a good friend of mine: criticizing Sin City for it’s multiple storylines (of which only locations and several characters are shared) and stylistic indulgence over plot is to completely miss the point (or, at the very least, avoids it by shooting down the model before addressing the composition). Sin City does not exist in the real world, and nor does it entirely exist within the realms of traditional cinema. To experience the film is to crawl inside the imagination of its creator, Frank Miller, who has created a surreal vision of reality that comments on our world by exaggerating the corruptions of society to the point where criminals, hookers, and cop-killers are the good guys, if only because they own up to their flaws. Adapted directly from its pulpy comic roots to the screen by Robert Rodriquez with absolute authenticity, the film suggests film noirs’ wet dream of itself on steroids: the inky blacks run deep amongst the murky grays, ties flap in the wind of open convertibles and characters speak with the self-aware grizzle of someone whose seen it all many times over. Some films exist entirely for style, and Sin City would do quite well enough on that turf alone, but to say that the glorious black-and-white (and occasionally red-all-over) visuals are wholly devoid of substance is a sad disowning of the mythic stories of vigilante justice and criminal honor that make up the films narrative core. Three of the seven “Sin City” stories are brought together here in somewhat overlapping fashion: “The Hard Good-Bye,” “That Yellow Bastard” and “The Big Fat Kill.” That Frank Miller wrote his stories in somewhat cinematic fashion helps tremendously in maximizing the reverent approach taken here, although the page-to-screen approach occasionally limits the possibilities of the newfound medium. What really sells the believability of such a unique vision, however, is the pitch-perfect casting, with the likes of Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, and Benicio Del Toro channeling their acting chops into their characters with equal part genre convention and human vulnerability. None of the excellent cast is better than Mickey Rourke, who inhibits the murderous Marv with righteous indignation and a burrowed maniacal glee. When he finally confronts the corrupt authority he’s been relentlessly pursuing, he responds to the inquiry as to whether or not killing a defenseless individual will satisfy him with one of the film’s many immortal lines. “The killing? No. No satisfaction. But everything up until the that, will be a gas.”