Tuesday, 26 August 2014



City Of Damsels.

102 Minutes. Starring: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Eva Green, Powers Boothe, Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta, Jaime King, Jamie Chung, Jeremy Piven, Christopher Lloyd, Juno Temple, Christopher Meloni, Stacy Keach, Lady Gaga & Bruce Willis. Director: Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller.

Some nights are like this. Take a look out the window. Dark and gloomy looking isn't it? That rain that poured as you so snored can only further water one notion in your mind. That hot Summer you had is officially over. Done! Now I hate to be downcast and be the bearer of bad weather but I think that pulled to your neck coat already told you how cold these nights are getting. Check your local papers movie listings and they will tell you the same thing. Despite all the Marvel superheroes, 'Godzilla's' and Apes that ran through this red hot season of blockbusters, the curtain falls and the theatre door is shown with 'Guardians Of The Galaxy', 'The Expendables' and now arguably the last of Summers big bucks movies in this one. Unless you love 'Lucy' like Scarlett Johansson that is. Speaking of cash, the black and white, graphic noir of 'Sin Cities' apt, pre-fall looking 'A Dame To Kill For' seems to have bombed like lead. Still that doesn't mean this film doesn't explode on your screens like a pipe. When 'Transformers' that aren't worth their metal take three figures of boom and something so influentialy inventive that it inspired a decades gone worth of recycled clones, (much like an 'Age Of Extinction') busts what does that tell you? Sometimes its about more than commercial money in cult successes. Frank Miller's novel work knows this. As does the Grindhouse work of Robert Rodriguez who made his 'Pulp Fiction' off Miller time. So much so that even legendary director Quentin Tarantino popped in for a quick drink and directed scene. 'Sin City' was a straight revolutionary classic and after years of waiting and Angelina Jolie and Lana Del Ray rumours (now that would be a forties fatale, dame to kill for) this town gets the sequel it deserves and has been waiting for. Viva Las Vegas?! Nah it's got no chips on Basin City.

A rotten sink and toilet town so soiled its only colour is a bleak black, offset occasionally by the illuminations of police sirens or sleazy neons promising you one night your stolen wallet will never forget. It all looks even more iconically immersive in three dimensions reaching out for IMAX. In a digi-age that leaves most dates wanting to ditch those Roy Orbison glasses no matter how pretty the woman, this is one film born to leave the world of 2D behind. But this is no 'Toy Story' type. More like monsters incorporated and institutionalized. Just like Marv! You see him. In all his brutality on 'Just Another Saturday Night' between all that ironic snowflake beauty on this pictures opening. You know the guy that kind of looks like Mickey Rourke and even punched that guys ticket and someone elses teeth back into Hollywood? Remember he kind of liked that leather coat you where wearing? A mighty fine one at that too for a tongue-in-cheek man ready to pull other men's ones literally through theirs. Joking around, telling one kid its hard to kill a Rourke. Even Stallone knows this guy ain't 'Expendable' anymore. Even if the 'Die Hard' Bruce Willis is, getting his 'Sixth Sense' on as a spirited ghost of this films past. Never leaving Jessica Alba's Little Nancy's side like the perverse patrons of her strip-club never leaving her stage as she dresses down and reveals the darker depth of her real acting ability...her most attractive quality. Scaling new highs as she hits the bottle and pours bullets of revenge down the chaser chamber of her gun. Here Mrs. Fantastic is truly something to Marvel at and not just an invisible stereotype. This 'Last Dance' really is one of 'Booze, Broads and Bullets'. More like Dames, Lames and Automatic-Weapons with no Candy too. Plenty of guns and a stun, six-shooting Rosario Dawson, plus Jaime King times two (hang on am I having continuity issues, its not good to forget your medicine when you have a condition) to high-heel boot in old town. This isn't the romantic-com to take your damsel not looking for distress to. This is comic-books darker turn that could make Batman cower in his cowl. Especially in the face of another returning figure in Powers Boothe's sick senator with a vocal tone and laughing timbre of pure tailor-made terror. An elected fear and fever of punch, puncuating power and incorrigible intimidation played to the villianous vileness we expect in this dark day.

Still a film like this needs some new blood and fresh meat. Especially with some major players being replaced. This film and its new following where called on to answer the demand. Especially out of respect and loving memory of the dearly departed Brittany Murphy and Michael Clarke Duncan. 24/7 talent Dennis Haysbert commands this with his literally crippling presence as Dennis honours Duncan to the muscle. Just like Jamie Chung does stepping into the crossbow of new mother Devon Aoki's Miho with a 'Sucker Punch' kick to that arrow. Just like man of the moment Josh Brolin makes Clive Owen's face of Dwight his outstanding own, with a Thanos voice born for this Frank Miller graphic comic. Even if he did lose out to the gruff of Affleck for Batman. Speaking of which, the Robin that stole the show from the 'Dark Knight' like he did from DiCaprio in 'Inception' takes the limelight here too. This isn't the first time Joseph Gordon-Levitt's owned a Bruce Willis special after closing that guys loop. Here playing his hand for all he's got this ace in this deals hole is a Josh Hartnett upgrade who is even better than the Johnny Depp as advertised rumours in the production stages of this picture. This 'Don Jon' is the man. 'Hit Record', read them and weep. The baby-face assassin from '3rd Rock' is playing with a full deck and all you need is a quarter to buy-in. There's even some spare change cameos from hard working greats like Ray Liotta (it hasn't been this quick and funny since those old Heineken commercials) and Jeremy Piven (a spectacle in replacement for Michael Madsen's bifocals) and the latest greatest likes of beat veteran Christopher Meloni and sophomore star Juno Temple. Not to mention the rah, rah of Lady Gaga, the incredible Morgan Freeman voice rivalling of Stacy Keach (he was inspired in 'If I Stay') looking like Jabba The Hut and Christopher Lloyd for great Scott's sake. All this epic ensemble has more fresh one-liners and wordplay this cliched writer could only dream of. There's so many all-stars hitting town here the lack of Benicio Del Toro or Elijah Wood doesn't even unbelievably matter. All this and we haven't even got to the dame in this game. After bringing another Frank Miller graphic sequel to life this year in '300-Rise Of An Empire', former Bond girl Eva Green is to die for as 'Sin Cities' 'Dame To Kill For'. Sexy and smouldering this is her 'Casino Royale', bearing it all gamble that wins everyone over in this city of sin. Sex and violence may be on the table but the cards are loaded with enough hearts and diamonds trying to be kings and queens in this deal to make this officially a sequel that looks better than the first as much as it bangs louder from the holster. Between sepia and an Instagram filter, this is as slick as it is sick. Every frame is formidably focussed. As is the 'Skin City', Steven Tyler soundtrack of Aerosin. This graphic gloss is a modern day homage to old cinema that shows more colour than the splashes of blood and wine that cant be washed out by those diluted imitators. There's some substance with this style too and not in an abusive way for a film that pulls all the punches even if it isn't a hit. Now that my friends is truly the sin. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

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