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A 'Sin City' full of temptations

January 01, 2006|Susan King

Frank Miller's Sin City

(recut, extended, unrated)

Dimension, $40

EVEN if you find fault with the films of iconoclastic director Robert Rodriguez ("Desperado," "Spy Kids"), the digital editions of his projects are generally exceptionally well done -- filled with fascinating documentaries, astute commentary and even a cooking class with the Austin, Texas-based filmmaker.

So it was something of a surprise when Dimension released an anemic digital edition a few months back of his latest film, "Sin City," the stylistically violent film noir based on the graphic novels of Frank Miller.

The only extra was a short conversation about the film with Rodriguez and Miller (who shares director credit).

Unfortunately, if you put down cold, hard cash for that disappointing disc, you'll probably end up shelling out even more money for this two-disc edition, which is jammed full of goodies -- including three versions of the film.

Shot in digital against a green screen with a modicum of props -- the striking visuals that reflect Miller's artwork were all digitally added later -- "Sin City" features four unsavory tales, all set in the seedy metropolis of Basin City.

Rodriguez attracted a dazzling cast, including Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, Josh Hartnett, Michael Madsen, Elijah Wood and Jessica Alba.

Extras: You'll need to carve out several days to watch all of the additional features.

The first disc includes the original theatrical release with a splendid commentary track with Rodriguez and Miller (the latter confesses that he was nervous working with Willis, whom he considers contemporary cinema's Humphrey Bogart); an equally compelling track with Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino (who is billed as a guest director -- he helmed one scene); and a fun track of the audience's loud, appreciative reaction to "Sin City" at the film's Austin premiere.

The disc also includes several above-average mini-documentaries covering such subjects as the eclectic costumes (and sometimes lack thereof), props, casting, the vintage cars, how Rodriguez persuaded Miller to make the film and a look at Tarantino's contribution.

The second disc features a reedited version of the film in which each of the four stories unfolds separately, with numerous deleted scenes included; a high-speed green-screen version of the film, which allows viewers to see just how bare-bones the production was before the digital effects were added; an uninterrupted 17-minute take of Tarantino's segment; a cast and crew party featuring a performance by Willis and his band, the Accelerators; a terrific installment of Rodriguez's "15-minute" film school, in which he reveals the tricks of his trade; and a cooking lesson in which the director prepares a breakfast burrito.

-- Susan King

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