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Ain't gonna play

The sterility of the computer-generated backgrounds is as repellent as the archaic gender stereotypes forced upon all the women in Sin City. Soulless excess fueled by unreasonable violence in a fantasy of a world that never should be: pah!

Nah, not really. It fucking rocked. You could get bitchy about how Rodriguez just laid the comic book out on the screen, but nobody gets snotty about faithful adaptations of Shakespeare. It’s a high-octane, note-perfect accomplishment. I dunno if I’d call it great cinema, although I think the cinematography and the use of black and white was superb… hm. Maybe I would call it great cinema. It’s easy to discount the look of the film and the skilled use of spot color cause it was filmed in digital. That’s a mistake. Filming in digital doesn’t make beauty easy. Just look at what Photoshop can do in unskilled hands for proof of that.

Really strong acting from most of the leads, with the exception of Jessica Alba, who wasn’t terrible. Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, and Mickey Rourke all shone. Each in different ways, too; it wasn’t just a bunch of cookie-cutter performances. Clive Owen got to be ultra-competent, Mickey Rourke got to be big and dumb and violent, and Bruce Willis got to be tired. So no, they weren’t working against their strengths. Still good performances all around. Rosario Dawson and Jamie King were just as good, too.

Brittany Murphy was awful. She didn’t have any sense of the rhythms of the story or of the movie. It’s pretty obvious she was supposed to be a lightweight; she went beyond that, though, into being a distraction. She’s not in a whole lot of scenes, however. All the other supporting actors were dandy. Particular kudos to Benicio Del Toro, no surprise there, and Rutger Hauer.

You could talk a lot about the gender roles. The women are all sex objects. The men are all inert until motivated by the need to protect/defend/avenge a woman. This short-changes both genders, if you want to be picky about it. Me, I figured I was watching a noir and made mental note that I wouldn’t want to be stuck in either gender role.

I was also more interested in the unabashed shotgun wedding between sex and death. Clive Owen and Rosario Dawson do it best, partially because their segment is all about hookers killing people and partially because it’s right up Owen’s alley: he has that air of violence around him, much like Russell Crowe. (Remember that first scene in L.A. Confidential?) Not to mention they’ve got Miho riding shotgun behind them, and she’s reduced her ability to communicate down to one razor-edged essential technique. It’s a very hot movie, and it’s the kind of setting where you don’t get laid unless you’re ready to die.

So there you go. Lots of essential primal urges, lots of violence, lots of velocity. Tons of velocity, in all possible senses of the word. If you’re gonna see it, be ready to wallow.

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