A hodgepodge of rehashed Black Mask tales and Bogie-and-Bacall banter, Sebastian Gutierrez’s throwback follows a variety of pulp archetypes—showgirls, private dicks, tough-talking dames—as they snake their way through intersecting plotlines. The black-and-white cinematography lends a shadowy glamour, and actors like Danny DeVito, Carla Gugino and Rufus Sewell are clearly having a blast fooling with the past. But seeing these performers playing noir karaoke also reminds you of similar, better excavations (L.A. Confidential, Sin City, Dark City). And no matter how many stories-within-digressions-within-anecdotes Gutierrez piles on, you never lose the nagging sense that you’re simply watching a high-school drama club’s production of ’40s fatalism chic.
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