Saturday, April 2, 2005

COMICS/MOVIES: Living in 'Sin'

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Oh yeah, I can't wait to check out the 'Sin City' movie this weekend. I'll catch a Saturday afternoon show to avoid the scary teenage crowd at night, and plan on writing a review for the paper next week. Judging from early reviews by critics I respect like Roger Ebert and Shawn Levy, this is one kick-ass over-the-top crime noir fanboy treat. I imagine it'll be way too extreme for most of mainstream America to be a huge hit, and the inevitable backlash will probably ensue, but I'm psyched. These days, I kind of view watching movies in theaters as a trailer for the 2-disc special edition DVD I'll buy down the road, anyway.

If you haven't checked out Frank Miller's Sin City graphic novels, you're missing out. The first one, now known as 'The Hard Goodbye,' remains my favorite, all hard-edged dialogue and black-and-white art so sharp you can cut yourself on it. When I read this a decade or so ago, it utterly blew my mind in a way few comics have -- with its unrelenting violence, nihilist worldview and the iconic Marv, seen above, the most dangerous man in comics. Frankly, if the movie captures half of this story's power and mood (it's one of three adapted in the film), I'll love it. The next two novels in the series, 'A Dame To Kill For' and 'The Big Fat Kill', are also great, featuring the antihero Dwight (played by the awesome Clive Owen in the movie, which adapts 'The Big Fat Kill'). 'A Dame To Kill For' might be my second-favorite of the comics, all "Double Indemnity"-style twists and turns with a bad woman leading a weak man astray, and some of Miller's sexiest art. Fourth in the series is 'That Yellow Bastard,' an utterly depraved, wonderful slice of vengeance and payback as an aging cop hunts down a pedophile. This is the third slice of the movie, starring what I consider a perfectly-cast Bruce Willis as the cop. There's also a volume of moody, effective short pieces, 'Booze, Broads & Bullets,' a great 'sampler' of the series' style. and the less successful crazy-women-on-a-tear 'Family Values.' Pretty much regarded as the least of the series is also the, to date, last one, 'To Hell And Back,' which is more experimental in tone than the others, and lacks as compelling a protagonist as Marv or Dwight. But generally you can't go wrong picking up either 'The Hard Goodbye' or 'That Yellow Bastard' for a taste of what the sin is about and if you'll like it. Warning: it ain't for sensitive types.

Reminder: ...And don't forget about that Jay's Days Giveaway contest I'm running. All you need to do is tell me what the title of your autobiography would be in fitting with Jay's confessional autobiographical comix theme - and you might have a shot at winning some cool swag by cartoonist Jay Marcy! Thus far the entries aren't exactly overflowing my e-mailbox, so give it a shot! Many thanks to Alan, David, Fred, Dorian, Johnny B and anyone I've missed for their linkage. Deadline is April 29, two weeks away.

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