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Toronto's Shiniest Rock-and-Roll Band

Of Vice and Menhirs

I recently saw “A Dame to Kill For”. I suspected that I’d get to it eventually, but despite my vague memories of enjoying my sole experience with the first “Sin City” in 2012, I wasn’t in any great rush to go until I reached a point where there was really nothing else in theatres to attract me. I mean . . . I suppose that “The F Word” looks alright. I might see “Magic in the Moonlight” at some point, but there appears to be a dearth of suitable show times, and I’m not in a bending mood.

Anyway, when I realised that “Dame” was the clear choice for the week, I did get somewhat more excited. The closer look at the cast helped. For one thing, I had no idea about the inclusion of Jeremy Piven. I love that guy in things! I never see him in things! He was great in this thing. And Bruce Willis came back? I hadn’t been paying enough attention to be fully aware of that, but he returns as the ghost of Dirty Harry. Christopher Lloyd and Lady Gaga were in it for several seconds, though the latter’s placement was slightly unusual in the fact that her character was probably the least flamboyant in the movie by a wide margin. It may have been a bit of a while since I’ve seen Joseph Gordon-Levitt in much, but he knocked his part out with the aplomb of one who has brought his own wardrobe to the role. Mickey Rourke’s Marv is wonderfully exultant as the David Lee Roth of violence.

I’m not customarily captivated by the whole thing of brutal machismo, but the deftness of execution on display here is transcendent. The substance of a film like this generally wouldn’t appeal to me in any significant way, and it wouldn’t help much to replace that with empty style. But here the substance is simply slathered with style, and that really does the trick. One notably attractive element is the use of lighting instead of colour. That’s downright masterful. Rodriguez and Miller, man. That’s a real, mean team.

The latter’s taste in silhouettes is clearly maintained. The otherwise diverse female cast share similarly sinuous frames, and the men are generally built like boulders, shrouded in trench coats, or blessed to be both. Even the role of the gawkish badge man is performed with the gravitas of something that tumbled out of a quarry into a cheap suit.

Maybe I was just in a particularly receptive mood, but this might have been my most thoroughly pleasurable experience with a Frank Miller work to date. It’s not my usual kind of tune, but it sang brilliantly.

Copyright © 2011, Jaymes Buckman and David Aaron Cohen. All rights reserved. In a good way.