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Bloody Valentine

Brace Yourself For a Mesmerizingly Cool, Breathtakingly Violent Trip to Sin City

IT ONLY HURTS WHEN I BLEED: Carla Gugino tries not to look at Mickey Rourke in Sin City.

By Joe MacLeod | Posted 3/30/2005

Are you a little bit squeamish at the movies? Have to turn away when something nasty happens up there on the big screen? Well, you just might wanna sit this one out, because there’s so much blood flying around Sin City you’re gonna feel like donning lab goggles and a raincoat and be so busy using your entire body to shield your popcorn from all the wet-work you simply will not be able to enjoy yourself. Seriously, you’ve been warned: shot, stabbed, mangled, ripped, fenestrated, perforated, severed; limbs, heads, and just about everything else (yeah, that’s right) lay right up ahead. And smoking, Judas Priest, the smoking in this picture is outta control; if you’re trying to quit, this ain’t the film for you, unless you maybe staple a few Nic-O-Patches to your neck before you settle in for the show, because if you’re weak-minded, this filmed entertainment might send you down the demon weed’s deadly path.

However, if you understand that all that fantastical ultraviolent stuff they throw up on the silver screen just ain’t real, and you dig on the not-so-superhero comic books, particularly the darker “adult”-type “graphic novels,” where it’s semi-Good Vs. absolutely-positively-100-percent-Evil and all the big, rugged (good) guys blasting away with guns and/or beating down with fists are virtuous and handsome (or at least virtuous) and all the babes are dangerous-curves-ahead examples of toothsome pneumatic fecundity and some of ’em got hearts of gold to match their 17-jewel movements, then strap yourself in for quite possibly the grittiest, muskiest, most blood-soaked, mind-roasting ball-busting thighmaster of a comic book you don’t ever have to read.

As for the rest of you, welcome to The Movies, future, past, and present, and steel yourself for a crazy mix-’em-up of animation-flavored film noir (you know, black-and-white movies where the men wear hats and trench coats and the dames are called dames and everything is narrated by somebody who’s really depressed or maybe even dead?), plus action, horror, sex, a spattering of inky, stinky, black humor, and Mickey Rourke’s greatest turn since either Diner or Get Carter (or both), and sure, even though it’s not animated, Sin City sure as hell feels like it is, what with all the German-Expressionism, crazy-perspective, high-contrast, black-and-white-and-red camera work that looks like panels ripped out of comic books (no doubt parsed directly from co-director Frank Miller’s critically acclaimed Sin City books) and the crazy, stagey, hard-boiled old-movie dialogue that used to work in movies, and then didn’t, and then found its way into comic books, and now works again in the heightened unreality of the ain’t-no-sunshine-ever Sin City world of cops, robbers, weaklings, mugs, thugs, victims, hookers, ladies (no gentlemen), killers, strippers, priests, and unspeakable rippers, played by the likes of Jessica Alba (stripper), Rosario Dawson (fierce hooker), Elijah Wood (no gentleman), Bruce Willis (good and born to play a comic-book character), Benicio Del Toro (brilliant as per usual), Carla Gugino (practically na-na-naked), Josh Hartnett (natty), Michael Madsen (cop), Jaime King (curvalicious), Brittany Murphy (slutty), Clive Owen (hot), and Mickey Rourke (crazy Frankenstein-lookin’ motherfucker caught in a frame-up), i.e., some of the coolest, hottest, freakiest cats and kittens in Tinseltown, roughed up, smoothed down, and presented to us as denizens of a place created by directors (co-directors, special guest directors, whatever) Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, Spy Kids), Frank Miller (writer for Robocop 2, Elektra), and Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction Kill Bill), who have pooled their collective talents and simpatico and sweat and testosterone into a big bloody puddle of a dead solid perfect adaptation of the Sin City stories, throwing the look and feel of its lurid pulp-novel morality plays together with modern movie-magic artistic technology that sets the controls of the Wayback Machine for black & white in color with the sweetest cars, the loudest guns, the creamiest ladies, and the manliest mens in Hollywood, all the better for fighting, fucking, and forgetting every action film and half-cocked superhero comic-book movie you’ve ever seen before, with bone-crunching brutality, dirty-damp sensuality, porntastic blood facials—heck, they even went and changed the color of blood for this flick, making it black, white, or yellow to suit the mood—all the better to present a steaming pile of turgid, tragic tales set in the worst city you never lived in, but might be able to understand, and once you do, you’ll never never get the stain out of your soul.

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