Notes from the back row 

In love with sin

"It’s time to prove to your friends that you’re worth a damn. Sometimes this means dying. Sometimes it means killing a whole lotta people."

This is exactly what I’m talking about. Frank Miller’s Sin City , opening Friday, sums up the gritty, noir, hardboiled feel of what’s probably going to be the coolest movie of the year – all blood, bullets, broads, and badass action.

Written and drawn by Frank Miller, Sin City was originally a gritty, highly stylized comic book about a fictional town full of corrupt cops and politicians, deadly tough whores, and dudes that weren’t afraid to get their hands bloody. Notable for its stark black and white artwork, its unique use of perspective and the gritty, seedy storylines featuring incredibly tough anti-heroes with the odd streak of sensitive vulnerability, Miller’s work was an instant comic classic. And now it’s all been faithfully adapted to the big screen by the coolest and most sensible director in America, Robert Rodriguez ( Desperado, Spykids 1-3, Once Upon a Time in Mexico.)

Sin City is a revamped, super stylized Film Noir, reminiscent of old detective flicks from the ’40s. It’s got the femme fatales, the antiheroes, voice-over narration, over-the-top dialogue and those expressionist techniques where the landscapes and weather and the use of shadows and light reveal aspects of the characters’ psyches or highlight certain themes of the picture. But those classic Noir films could never get away with the nudity and ultra- violence Rodriguez and Miller bring to the table. I’m talking tortures, slashed throats, electric chairs and two, count ’em, two castrations. This is ‘R’ rated cinema at its finest.

The movie is made up of three sub stories that all take place in Basin City, a timeless town that seems to contain the coolest parts of every decade – old cars, new guns, and a futuristic sense of corruption in both the government and the church (not that futuristic though, the way things are going these days). The first story involves Marv, (Mickey Rourke) a burly, scarred-up thug who falls in love with a gorgeous blonde named Goldie (Jamie King) only to wake up and find her dead and himself framed. Deciding that she was the best thing to ever happen to him, Marv heads out on a rampage of bloody revenge with complete reckless abandon. Mickey Rourke is almost unrecognizable under his makeup but his rough, life-weary voice and looming physical presence fit Marv perfectly, and Rourke provides perhaps the best performance in a movie chock full of star performers.

Next is Hardigan (Bruce Willis) the only good cop in town, almost retired, who wants to save an 11-year-old girl from a brutal serial rapist/killer. He succeeds but ends up in prison due to the dirty fog of corruption that floods the streets of Sin City.

The third story revolves around Dwight, who must help the whores of Old Town lose the body of a creepy cop (Benicio Del Toro) who crossed the line with one of the girls. Dwight faces a looming war between the mob, the cops and the uniquely tough whores he calls his friends.

Sin City is a visual masterpiece, all deep blacks and stark whites and lurking, polished greys with splashes of vivid colours popping up. Nothing like this has been seen before and Rodriguez and Miller have created a stunningly beautiful world of corruption, redemption, loyalty and bloody murder. It’s all sin and skin, death and salvation, sex and torment. It’s gritty, bloody, dark and as cool as the other side of the pillow. And it’s fun, just like torture-loving Marv says when asked if his revenge killings will be worth it. "The killing, no, but everything up to that’ll be a gas."

AT VILLAGE 8 April 1-7: Sin City; Hitch; Hotel Rwanda; Ring 2; Million Dollar Baby; Robots; Be Cool; Hostage; Beauty Shop; Guess Who; Miss Congeniality 2.

AT RAINBOW THEATRE April 1-7: Man of the House.

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