#221 / 365 – ‘Sin City’ (2005) – 124 mins
IMDb Challenge #131 / 250 – Ranked #103 – DVD Collection
Three related stories from Sin City; when Marv (Mickey Rourke), a tougher-than-nails street-fighter, takes home the beautiful Goldie (Jaime King), to have her wind up dead in his bed, he scours the city to avenge the loss of the only drop of love his heart has ever known. Dwight (Clive Owen), is a private investigator perpetually trying to leave trouble behind, even though it won’t quit chasing after him. After a cop is killed in Old Town, Dwight will stop at nothing to protect his friends among the ladies of the night. Meanwhile, John Hartigan (Bruce Willis), the last honest cop in Sin City, has just one hour left before retiring (or dying of a bad heart), and he plans to go out with a bang as he makes a final bid to save an 11 year-old girl from the sadistic son (Elijah Wood) of a Senator (Powers Boothe) . . . with unexpected results.
Tough talking Bruce Willis gets hanged, street wise Mickey Rourke electrocuted and scantily clad Jessica Alba dances on a pole. What else do you need to know? In Robert Rodriguez’s ultra-violent telling of Frank Miller’s ultra-violent graphic novel of the same name. The excesses of Sin City are gaudy and gorgeous feast hits right between the eyes with its strikingly bold black-and-white pallete with flashes of red.
Standout performances from an ensemble cast, where the acting is tongue in cheek. Mickey Rourke steals the show from Bruce Willis as our hard-boiled hero, whilst Elijah Wood and Nick Stahl turn in great performances as unlikely villains. Sin City is an intoxicating piece of modern film noir with grit and is easily Rodriguez’s best work by far, and oh a sequel is in the works.
#222 / 365 – ‘The Great Escape’ (1963) – 172 mins
IMDb Challenge #132 / 250 – Ranked #110 – DVD Collection
Based on a true story, “The Great Escape” deals with the largest Allied escape attempt from a German POW camp during the Second World War. The first part of the film focuses on the escape efforts within the camp and the process of secretly digging an escape tunnel. The second half of the film deals with the massive effort by the German Gestapo to track down the over 70 escaped prisoners who are at this point throughout the Third Reich attempting to make their way to England and various neutral countries.
Ahhh the film we’ve all watched numerous times on TV every Christmas, Easter and Bank holiday Monday. Some of the most joyful moments you get from The Great Escape is from watching the ingenuity that the POW’s show in preparing for their escape; digging the tunnel, acquiring clothing and travel papers. This is where it helps to understand that the film is based on a true story.
The Great Escape is full of Great performances too from its star-studded cast, where each character has a function led by commanding officer Richard Attenborough as the ‘Big X’, James Garner “The Scrounger”, Charles Bronson “The Tunnel King”, Donald Pleasance “The Forger” and James Coburn equipped with a unique Aussie accent as “The Manufacturer”. Of course the Great Escape wouldn’t be complete without those iconic images, that still prove timeless of “The King of Cool”, Steve McQueen bounding across Bavaria on a motorcycle.
#223 / 365 – ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ (1939) – 129 mins
IMDb Challenge #133 / 250 – Ranked #102 – DVD Collection
Naive and idealistic Jefferson Smith (James Stewart), leader of the Boy Rangers, is appointed on a lark by the spineless governor of his state. He is reunited with the state’s senior senator–presidential hopeful and childhood hero, Senator Joseph Paine. In Washington, however, Smith discovers many of the shortcomings of the political process as his earnest goal of a national boys’ camp leads to a conflict with the state political boss, Jim Taylor. Taylor first tries to corrupt Smith and then later attempts to destroy Smith through a scandal.
Sitting alongside the quintessential Christmas film ‘Its a Wonderful Life’, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, is to me Frank Capra’s other greatest and best loved masterpiece. It features one of the true gentleman actors of yesteryear James Stewart and this definitive American classic positioned Stewart’s status a star and one that garnered him an Oscar nomination that he really should have won, if only for his enthusiasm during the last 25 minutes which is topped of by Smith’s rousing and emotionally felt “Lost Causes” speech.
The story is a modern-day fairy tale affair, where the innocent patriot is ushered into the political world by the corrupt and influential giants who observe his naivety, but then truly underestimate his tenacity, and this premise has incredible resonance in today’s world.