Friday, April 01, 2005

Film Review: Sin City

my mind is still trying to process the raw slab of tainted meat it has been beaten with for the last 2 hours. after it's all over, it can't wait to go back for seconds.

Sin City is a movie that explodes with life and death, a gorgeous oxymoron in that a black and white film had so much color in it. not just from the dabs of technicolor eyes, dresses, and blood, but from the characters that inhabit a world to stark to be captured by any kind of film set or reels. it doesn't pay homage to film noir, it inhales it, digests it, and coughs back up the ugly remains; without kitsch. without irony. there is no sarcasm, no playful winks or nudges. and it's waiting with a lead pipe and a loaded shotgun for anyone who writes it off as such.

visually it's the most stunning piece of digital work since Fight Club. about 5 minutes into the film i forgot that it was all a green screen. the way the actors interact with the scenery will make you all forget as well. however it wasn't the effects that won me over; it was the brilliance almost every actor used to capture the essence of their respective characters, becoming their flesh and blood incarnates.

the 3 main stories of Sin City have 3 protagonists as the focus, and each one at the core is dealing with a similar scenario; protecting the loves of their lives from the sleaze and scum that pour out of the city like sweat. I won't get into breakdowns of each character, but i will say that Mickey Rourke damn near steals this one, playing the anti-social golden hearted misanthrope Marv. his narrative foams at the mouth with the pulpy poetics of a mutated Travis Bickle, killing his way through cops, priests, and one creepy farm boy "in the name of a dead hooker". Bruce Willis also plays his best role in a long time, that of Hartigan, playing it with a quiet Harry Callahan intensity that never veers into knock-off territory. Clive Owen's Dwight isn't quite as defined as Marv and Hartigan, but that creates and aura of mystery that makes him intriguing in his own way.

the women of Sin City are the orgasmic affection of every wet dream and the deadly sexy amazons of a he-man woman haters worst nightmare. like angels getting ready for a gunfight, they'll get you hard just to castrate you, and love you if you do the same to someone else. Jamie King (as Goldie) truly captures the essence of a celestial call girl that no warm blooded heterosexual male could resist in anyway, while Devon Aoki (as Miho) destroys the notion of the docile Asian woman, dicing it up with swastika shaped throwing stars. Carla Guigino is simply mouth watering as Marv's very naked parole officer Lucille. Rosario Dawson and Jessica Alba are in their too, with an Uzi and lasso respectively.

the villains share the same mold as the villains of Dick Tracy; ugly as sin...but they take their evil to more perverse despicable levels, never hestitaitng to beat a woman, molest a child, or even eat the meat right off their victims. Elijah Wood's Kevin is genuinely unnerving, his eyes hidden from the glare of his glasses as he quietly pounces and slices. Benico DelToro plays Jack Rafferty with a nauseating charm, even (perhaps especially) when he's being drown in a toilet, getting his hand sliced off, and all the other horrible stuff that happens to him. Nick Stahl's Yellow Bastard is disgusting no matter the skin tone or size of his nose. smaller evil roles are occupied brilliantly by Michael Clarke Duncan (playing Manute the way he should have played the Kingpin in Daredevil), Rutger Hauer as Cardinal Roark, and Powers Boothe as his equally evil brother the Senator.

people will complain about the acting, the dialogue, the violence, the sexism, the nihilism...but those people are either dumb or PC sissies. the acting and the dialogue match Frank Miller's world perfectly, as does the violence and gleeful fascism and nihilism. Sin City not a family film or a moral tale. it's an acidic shock to the senses. not a wake up call but a blood soaked dream. it's not designed to be some pretentious blowhard's piece of social commentary but a vessel for every sexual fantasy, every revenge fantasy any of us insecure males have had in our life and will continue to have, creating within our own minds a city of sin. this movie not only realized that dream, it gave it veins so it could mainline all the booze, broads, and bullets imaginable into its system.

Sin City is the most perfectly actualized comic book film ever made, beating out every super-hero film made by a director with a Jesus fetish that has come out in the last 5 years. if there is any justice this film will create some stars and make us remember some old ones that never really lost their step, we just all forgot they were dancing. if there is any further justice it will make other people involved in comic book films step up their game and create something truly memorable and eventful (producers of Watchmen, take notice). I hope we see more from Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, and the rest.

I thank them from the bottom of my nerdy little heart.

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