April 2nd, 2005

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Frank Miller's "Sin City" acknowledges the darkness of the mean streets.

For the last 20n years, Frank Miller has been the most influential force for the comic book industry. Miller gained national recognition for "The Dark Night Returns." This comic book presented Bruce Wayne as a burned out, middle aged Batman. Miller's tone is consistently dark, his heroes are monsters, his villains are seductive and the violence is sadistic. Miller's work is in direct reaction to the "Archie" comic book series and the ABC networks "Superfriends" Saturday morning cartoon show. That is why "Frank Miller's Sin City" is vintage Frank Miller.

"Frank Miller's Sin City" is an all star pulp fiction/film noir/grand guignol/hellzapoppin' grotesque spectacular. The plot is based on three of Miller's graphic novels, the namesake, "Sin City'" "The Big Fat Kill" " and "That Yellow Bastard." Actually the narrative is a sloppy mess, but as any student of this genre learns, film noir is a triumph of style over substance. While there are three separate narratives, the characters interlap into each other stories. Josh Hartnett's character is the bookend to the pulpy details of the Sin City.

Detective Hartigan (Bruce Willis) is one hour away from retirement and suffers from angina. Despite advice from his partner (Michael Madsen) to take it easy, Hartigan is determined to arrest a murderous pedophile. What should become Hatigan's last blaze of glory becomes the detective's worst nightmare. It is only through the gratitude of young Nancy (Jessica Alba) does Hartigan regain some semblance of humanity. Based upon "That Yellow Bastard'" this segment provides the most traditional form of 1940's postwar detective stories..

Marv (Mickey Rourke) is a wolfish hooligan who gains comfort from a prostitute, Goldie (Jaime King). While the two sleep in each other's arms, Goldie is murdered. After being set up by the Basin City Police patrol, Marv vows revenge. Lacking political sophistication, Marv climbs the corporate ladder of corruption. Being an equal opportunity offender, Marv confronts a band of prostitutes with the same courtesy to Basin City's Arch Bishop Rourke (Rutger Hauer). Marv's Tale is the wildest of the three segments with the tone that balances from the most perverted to the most funny.

Dwight (Clive Owen) is dating Shellie (Brittany Murphy), the former moll of Jackie Boy (Bernicio Del Toro), an overgrown gang banger who delights in beating up women. Jackie Boy and his posse venture to the red light district and runs afoul Gail (Rosario Dawson) and her gang. Through a series of unfortunate events, a full scale war erupts between the crooked cops and the mob. Eventually the sadistic Manute(Michael Duncan Clarke)is recruited to settle multiple scores. Based upon "The Big Fat Kill," this segment suffers from too many interesting characters within too short story time.

The cast and crew of "Frank Miller's Sin City" fulfills the artistic goals of creating a modern day film noir. Unlike the subtle suggestions of perverted behavior from the 1940's classics, this modern flick provides full frontal sadism. Ticket buyers expecting a homage to the Robert Mitchum, Humphrey Bogart, Stirling Hayden classics of the past will be in for a shock. Two thugs have their faced washed in dirty toilet bowls and there are the creepy actions of Cannibal Kevin (Elijah Wood). There are multiple amputations and decapitations. At least two celebrity heads are brandished around the streets like a trophy.

In terms of production values, "Frank Miller's Sin City" ranks alongside with "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow." Both films do a great job mixing modern sensibilities with a nod to the original material that inspired such movies. Whereas the tone of "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" celebrated swashbuckling heroics, "Frank Miller's Sin City" acknowledges the darkness of the mean streets.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

1978 - 2005 The Life of Pope John Paul II

In the Fall of 1978,
John Belushi starred in the number one movie in the land, "Animal House,"
earned a double Platinum Album for "A Briefcase Full of Blues,"
and was still a regular on "Saturday Night Live."

Jimmy Carter was President,
disco was still cool
and the New York Yankees would retain their World
Championship thanks to Bucky Dent's mastery of the Boston Red Sox.

I was in Mr. DeSito's English Class when we heard that the new Pope had died, some 28 days after being named Pope John Paul I. The reaction of my classmate was, "Does that mean I am going to miss the Washington Redskins-Dallas
Cowboys Monday Night Football game?"

Since Karol Jozef Wojtyla (alias Pope John Paul II from Poland) assumed the shoes of the fisherman, my old classmate has witnessed over 52 football games involving the Redskins and the Cowboys. Under President Carter's weak leadership, the world witnessed the growth of middle east terrorism in Iran
and the Soviet Union's assault on Afghanistan.

As we approached high school graduation in 1981, we witnessed the assassination attempts on both President Reagan and Pope John Paul II.
Both men forgave their assassins and shared a bond with each other.
When they met each other a year later, both men discussed their core beliefs about freedom and love. By staying strong in their core beliefs,
both men oversaw the fall of the evil empire known as the Soviet Union.

Karol Jozef Wojtyla was a man who meant well.
He witnessed the horrors of Adolf Hitler's Final Solution
and the further evil of Joseph Stalin's genocide.

Sadly,
the pedophile issue will haunt this papacy in the same way
as "Watergate" haunted President Richard Nixon.

Unless the next Pope confronts this internal evil of the Roman Catholic Church, the Church will lose legitimate standing as a moral agent in the world.

Upon reflection of the individual,
Pope John Paul II did more good than bad.
Our world is a better place because of Karol Jozef Wojtyla's influence.