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It's a Sin-er!

Byline: By Jo Manning South Wales Echo

The first thing which seduces you into Sin City - a film like no other in 2005 - is it's gorgeous look and extreme stylings.

Shot entirely in black and white, save for the occasional splash of extreme colour or soft skin tone, every frame of this extremely violent comic book adaptation by original creator Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez, is an arresting feast for the eyes that'll render you spellbound.

Echoing the film noir stylings of 1940s films, as well as the newfangled comic book visuals of Miller's original graphic novels, Sin City's look perfectly matches the setting - a violent, dangerous city where it constantly rains, which is occupied by corrupt men in raincoats who have scars, guns and harbour dark secrets. And where the ladies, sorry 'dames', work in their underwear as prostitutes or pole dancers.

The film is woven around three storylines, which vaguely connect via characters in 'blink-and-you'll-miss-it' moments. The first features Bruce Willis as a cop nearing retirement, framed for the rape of a girl he saved. The second - and my personal favourite segment - stars Mickey Rourke as a deformed lughead hell-bent on avenging a murdered prostitute. And the third features Clive Owen (the weakest link - he's just not hard-bitten enough) as an ex-detective trying to help a gang of hookers while avoiding the law.

Okay, so I guess this does sound a lot like a boys' movie, the kind of thing fans of Quentin Tarantino (who incidentally directs a crucial scene in Sin City) would queue up to see nine times before entering into long, boring internet-based discussions about how many plasters cover Rourke's body in a particular scene.

Many people will also bemoan the lack of character development in the three vaguely interconnecting stories in Sin City.

It's true that Sin City sometimes disappears up its own storyboard. While drawing you in, the high concept approach also creates an instant barrier to the characters - and you won't feel much sympathy for any come the final reel. It also softens the impact of the butchery, which after a bit of blood-letting (usually in white), soon looks as routine as making a cup of tea.

But this is still a fiercely original film full of brash dialogue, dark humour and non-stop escapism. Okay, so it's not the sort of thing you'd take your granny to see, but it's intoxicating enough to stand repeat viewings. It's also likely to be hugely influential in the years to come.

THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN'S APOCALYPSE (15, 91mins) HHHII

Who's in it?

Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith, Michael Sheen.

What's it about?

The cult TV show becomes a movie, although not in the way fans of the show might expect.

Three grotesque but lesser known characters - mad butcher Hilary Briss, German pervert Herr Lipp and appallingly-rude business man Geoff - escape the fictional Peak District town when they hear their creators are scrapping them in favour of a new story set in the 17th Century. In order to prevent 'Armageddon', the trio flit from Royston Vasey, the real world and 1690 and end up kidnapping Steve Pemberton.

Is it worth seeing?

Bizarre storyline I know, but at least it's original and fans of the TV series will be satisfied by the grotesque laughs and queasy gore on offer. Popular but over-referenced characters like Pauline, Edward and Tubbs and Papa Lazarou, only pop up here and there, and sometimes the hither and thither rushing between various realities can render it a little too clever for its own good.

Basically, if you're not familiar with The League of Gentlemen already, you might want to steer clear.

ADAM & PAUL (15, 96mins) HHIII

Who's in it?

Mark O'Halloran, Tom Murphy.

What's it about?

Two hopeless Dublin junkies scam their way through life as they search for their next heroin fix. Over the course of a day, Adam and Paul's luck runs dry, as does their credit and friends.

Is it worth seeing?

If you're looking for a cheery night at the flicks then steer well clear of this. Billed as a comedy - although God only knows why - this depressing, bleak and grim movie is about as funny as your granny's funeral. At the end of the day, trying to have a slapstick-style laugh at the misadventures of two aimless druggies - especially when one involves the mugging of a boy with Down Syndrome - seems a little misplaced.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 4, 2005
Words:737
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