A Palsy Victim Performing Brain Surgery With A Monkeywrench

Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s “Sin City” is the per­fect mesh of Film Noir, ultra-vio­lence, com­ic book camp, and cin­e­ma tech­nol­o­gy.

Edi­tor’s Note: Since Steve & Trey left a cou­ple of com­ments about “Sin City” on my last broad-sweep­ing post, I thought I’d final­ly get around to post­ing my review and thoughts on the film… did I men­tion I’ve been real­ly occu­pied late­ly?

I went to see the late show of “Sin City” a cou­ple of weeks ago. I had heard great things about this movie, and more than just the reg­u­lar hype run­ning up to a Hol­ly­wood bank­buster. This was the movie that was real­ly going to show­case dig­i­tal as a means of shoot­ing and edit­ing film. I read Wired’s arti­cle on Robert Rodriguez’s use of dig­i­tal, and knew that at least I would enjoy the styl­iza­tion and cin­e­matog­ra­phy. I love styl­ized films, and this one goes all the way. But of course, it was that bare-bones, grit­ty style that made Miller’s com­ic such a cult clas­sic to begin with. You can see the pan­els of Miller’s com­ic com­ing to life. The style of this movie is the style of the com­ic book. That is to say, it is the straight black & white to sim­u­late inked draw­ings. The car­i­ca­ture-esque fig­ures of each seedy indi­vid­ual are giv­en voic­es and made to move. Rodriguez and Miller have done the impos­si­ble: they actu­al­ly made a com­ic book film. It took the sto­ry lines of some of the great­est comics every writ­ten along with Rodriguez’s uncan­ny abil­i­ty to make impos­si­ble films (see the sto­ry behind “El Mari­achi,” for starters) and the use of dig­i­tal equip­ment to do it. Sure, we’ve seen many oth­er com­ic book movies, but those were Hol­ly­wood ver­sions of the sto­ry-line; repro­duc­tions only. This is a com­ic book being dis­played in live action on a big screen.

This is the sort of film that does­n’t get made unless some­one like Robert Rodriguez tells Hol­ly­wood execs to bug­ger-off and goes and does it him­self. This film makes no apolo­gies in it’s pre­sen­ta­tion. You are going to be sick at some of the fan­tas­tic bru­tal­i­ty that takes place. This is “Pulp Fic­tion” noir, but sad­ly every­body com­pares every vio­lent film to Taran­ti­no’s big debut (and espe­cial­ly since he guest-direct­ed on “Sin City”). Actu­al­ly, I’d say since you end up lov­ing some real­ly nasty char­ac­ters, it would be more in line with “A Clock­work Orange,” and no-less style dri­ven that than film. A lot of the act­ing is cheesy, to be kind, but that just lends itself to the noir genre. I have to say that Michael Mad­sen’s dia­logue with Bruce Willis comes to mind first. I can’t fault him, or the oth­er actors or director(s) much, though. Hon­est­ly, when you actu­al­ly lis­ten to one of Bogie’s speech­es about dames in those films, it almost seems like a par­o­dy as opposed to the orig­i­nal. It’s just so ingrained into Amer­i­can pop-cul­ture. Cheesy, over-dra­mat­ic lines are part of film-noir like broads and stiffs. It’s Miller’s com­ic twists on the genre that make the real mag­ic, and this film deliv­ers. Mad­sen is such a ter­rif­ic actor (“Kill Bill Vol. 2” and “Reser­voir Dogs” come to mind imme­di­ate­ly, but that’s prob­a­bly because I men­tioned Taran­ti­no), it’s almost a shame to see him say real­ly goofy things to in the sec­ond scene of the film.

Some real high­lights of the movie includ­ed Bruce Willis, who did such a con­vinc­ing job as aging detec­tive Har­ti­gan, it makes me think how good he would be as Bat­man if Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight” was ever made. Nah, Hol­ly­wood would nev­er go for a decrepit, senile old man as Bat­man; but then again, who ever thought “Sin City” would get made as a film? Also, Mick­ey Rourke made the com­ic anti-hero Marv real­ly come to life. He was one of sev­er­al peo­ple who put on some pros­thet­ics to get into char­ac­ter, and real­ly made the thick-jawed, psy­chot­ic Marv come real. Every­body is great in this film, but those two real­ly sold the lines to me.

So pre­pare your­self for a black ink noir fan­ta­sy with lots of vio­lence and odd­ball char­ac­ters. Then go see “Sin City,” and see what is pos­si­ble in film. Two last lit­tle bits: look out for Frank Miller in his cameo as a priest dur­ing the con­fes­sion­al scene, and do not go to www.sincity.com… it does­n’t have any­thing to do with the com­ic and might get you in trou­ble with your boss or wife. You were warned.

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