If there was one thing that glued me hard to Film Studies in UP, it was Film Noir.

Brandon Lee's screen performance of James O'Barr's comics The Crow imprinted a personal fascination of the dark and dingy (contrasting blacks and whites), grim and gloomy, and seamy and sadistic shots, plots, and characters in contemporary cinema that I ditched Business School and shifted to Film in sophomore year.

I learned a great deal of Film Noir through classic films such as the German avant-garde The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, Brian DePalma's Scarface, John Huston's The Maltese Falcon, and Ridley Scott's Bladerunner. The pervading environment in a Film Noir is usually brutal, cynical, inhumane, seamy, and fatalistically pessimistic, which characterize the early (and current) gun-toting, crime-ridden, morally-deficient, and socially-decaying American movies.

And Robert Rodriguez' adaptation of Frank Miller's Sin City smacks right up the Noir alley.

G and I caught the matinee today with high hopes of stirring our visual cravings for the film buff in us; and Sin City didn't disappoint but delivered — and delivered exceedingly beyond expectations. Excellent would be an understatement, and; Engaging would be too modest words to describe the movie.

Here's why:

1. Director(s). It's a Robert Rodriguez opus with a directorial bonus: Quentin Tarantino. Sin City is like El Mariachi meets Kill Bill or From Dusk 'Til Dawn meets Natural Born Killers (although, arguably, the latter ones are more of Tarantino's than Rodriguez). And with a gun stuck in the temple of Jackie Boy's talking, dismembered head throughout the latter part of the film, Tim Burton would've been a brilliant add-on!

2. Action. Largely due to number 1, Sin City is inevitably a virtual gorefest. Of course, blood and gore are prime elements in Frank Miller’s cartoon novels but credit goes to Rodriguez and Tarantino to celebrate these elements on silver screen. Rephrasing Peter Parker’s line, Sin City is not for the faint at heart but for the morbid kind. The incessant flesh slash, head splits, body mutilations, and vengeful violence and boorish blood bath are a welcome motif throughout the film without the cringe, disgust, or repulsion.

3. Cast. Although the genre and cinematography alone would have carried Sin City to greatness, it had to employ an all-star cast that makes the movie all the more worthy of $6.50 ticket (and repeats as well). The cool, calm, and collected (comparably better — bars higher — than Batman's Commissioner Gordon) John Hartigan is played by Bruce Willis; Kidnap and child-rape survivor Nancy Callahan portrayed by Jessica Alba; Kevin, a young Hannibal Lecter brought to life by Frodo, er, Elijah Wood; Brittany Murphy as the sexy and slutty waitress Shellie; Clive Owen as the private investigator Dwight; Benicio Del Toro as Basin City's corrupt cop Jackie Boy; Rosario Dawson as hooker ring pimp Gail; Devon Aoki as the Samurai sword toting Miho, and; Alexis Bledel (of Gilmore Girls fame — a miscast in my book, though) as double-crossing prostitute Becky, among others (including Josh Hartnett and Michael Clark Duncan). Oh, forget not (lest I commit sacrilege) Nick Stahl as the pedophile yet erectile dysfunctional Yellow Bastard. Whew!

4. Plot. Three of Frank Miller's novels comprise the film adaptation of Sin City, which in Pinoy vernacular is sulit! The intertwined stories reflect the Noir genre highlighting the dark, sadistic, and inhumane sides of human experience. Flashbacks are employed to link characters and plots in highly oppressive environment where the protagonists operate. I rooted for Hartigan as he pushed his priniciples to the extremes to save a hapless child victim from crime and cruelty largely instigated by the Yellow Bastard and a corrupt society. His determined suppression of personal feelings toward Nancy proved as Noir as Frank Miller's stories can be: Fatalistic and heroic; Choosing pain and eventual death over doomed love. Ditto for Marv over Goldie against Kevin and Cardinal Rourk. And as in any FPJ movie, the underdogs triumph until the very end — gore and all.

Sin City is just an absolute treat. An unhealthy, intoxicating treat that is all eye catching, addicting, and drool inducing, which cannot be dismissed once peddled or teased to one's senses. All one needs to do is to just suck it all up and go with the stimulating flow. Woohoo! Watching Sin City is plainly just that: sinful. 

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