Saturday, 29 January 2011

Sin City

Year: 2005
Directors: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, with "Special Guest Director" Quentin Tarantino
Screenplay: Frank Miller, based on the Sin City graphic novel series by Frank Miller
Starring: Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Benicio del Toro, Brittany Murphy, Elijah Wood, Rosario Dawson, Jaime King, Nick Stahl
Running Time: 124 minutes; 147 minutes extended cut
Genre: Crime, thriller, action, film-noir

Summary: Four stories in the violent world of Basin City (most commonly called "Sin City"). A hitman (Josh Hartnett) shares a tender moment with his victim (Marley Shelton).
Violent but honourable Marv (Rourke) wakes up next to a dead girl and finds himself accused of her murder. Determined to avenge her, he sets off on a brutal quest to find her killer.
After being humiliated during a fight with his ex-girlfriend, Shelley (Murphy), and her new boyfriend, Dwight (Owen), police officer Jack (del Toro) and his friends go too far with the prostitutes of the "Oldtown" area of the city (where the prostitutes have absolute control) and pay the inevitable price, which threatens to destroy the fragile truce between the police and the residents of Oldtown.
On the eve of his retirement, honest cop John Hartigan (Willis) rescues a young girl from a sadistic serial killer (Stahl), seriously wounding him in the process. However the killer is the son of a powerful and corrupt US Senator (Powers Boothe) and Hartigan finds himself convicted of the serial killer's crimes. Years later, the horrifically disfigured killer returns to finish what he started.

Summary: This film is based on three Sin City graphic novels: The Hard Goodbye, The Big Fat Kill and That Yellow Bastard alongside the short story "The Customer is Always Right". The film is a very faithful rendering of the graphic novels, with the books even being used as storyboards, and writer and artist Frank Miller being so involved in the direction of the film that director Robert Rodriguez gave him a credit as co director. However the Director's Guild of America refused to allow the two to share credit as they weren't an established team and Miller had never directed before. Rodriguez planned to give Miller full credit but Miller would not accept it, and neither would Rodriguez accept full credit. As a result Rodriguez resigned from the Guild so the two could share credit. Quentin Tarantino directed one scene in the film and was given a "Special Guest Director" credit.
The movie is film-noir (or more accurately, perhaps, "neo-noir") but with all the stylistic elements ramped up to the nth degree. The movie is filled with over the top graphic violence all shot in glittering high contrast black and white, with the black being as black as pitch and the white being almost dazzlingly bright, and frequent flashes of colour, usually just one element in an otherwise monochrome frame. Shot digitally the movie utilizes a multitude of special effects which actually work well, to create a bizarre and violent world. It features great performances from an all-star cast who all seem to relish Miller's hard-boiled dialogue (mostly taken verbatim from the books).
Technically startling and full of memorable scenes and dialogue, this is a thrilling and exhilirating experience from beginning to end, and one of the most faithful translations ever of a comic to the screen.

Jessica Alba and Bruce Willis in Sin City.

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