6/21/2005

Sin City

Film of the year (for now) hands down. Now read my opinions... if they matter that is.

Spoileroonies may be present. So please avert your eyes!!!

Sin City, a movie that I did not realise was in the works until some time previous to its release. At least 3 years since I had read the graphic novels I did not initially give much thought into the idea of the film. That is until searching around one night I came across a piece of greatness directed by a filmmaker named David Brocca, a member of Pitchfilms, who had created Rats: A Sin City Yarn, not long ago I had read the short ‘Rats’ in one of the Sin City novels, and I had thought it was great. Then to my surprise someone had made a short film of it. Standing at only 3 minutes long, the short itself only ran a couple of pages. But the great length to detail that was made in the film was astounding. It looked straight outta the comic. Shots were framed exactly as they were in the comic, and it was worded exactly to the book.
After I had seen it I immediately praised David Brocca for his work, and he shortly thereafter sent me a copy of it on DVD that he had made; this I of course now keep very safe, and will cherish forever. Unfortunately it will not play on my computer specifically, for reasons unknown.

Anyway, Rats had tripled my hopes for Sin City when it came out and I couldn’t wait to see it at the cinema.
Fortunately it was being shown on a Thursday, and since I was on study leave, it was a perfect chance to go see the film, before its initial release on the Friday. Although I must say that I was a little dishearten by the amount of people in the theatre, there must have been only 15 or so people seated, but I must say I believe that everyone there had enjoyed it.

Starring a host of people, the important players being Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Nick Stahl, Jessica Alba and Clive Owen, of course along with a load of people I do not remember the names of.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez along with Frank Miller who supervised it, Oh my god!! Don’t forget the guest direction of oh yes!!! Quentin Tarintino... geez, really it's not that big a goddamn deal, and yet I swear everyone is like, “Quentin Tarintino, really? I must go see this film, I have no idea what it is about, but who cares if I heard the name Quentin Tarintino!” And that almost every review I have read relates the film to Pulp Fiction’s time frame etc, which it is exactly like a Tarintino movie.... he didn’t create the story... Frank bloody Miller did!!! Seriously if you looked up the word overrated in the dictionary it would say that Quentin Tarintino and Donnie Darko are synonyms of the word. Anyway, now that’s over with I can get on with the review :P

The film follows three different characters, joining three of the series of graphic novels into one, although That Yellow Bastard is splintered into two pieces. To start we follow the beginning of the aforementioned title. Which follows John Hartigan (Willis); a sixty something cop, not too far from retirement in the attempt to rescue a little girl; Nancy Callahan (Alba) from being murdered and raped by the sadist Roark (Nick Stahl) son of the senator, and nephew of Cardinal Roark (Rutger Hauer) From the word go, the stories portray the worst of humanity, an underlying plot of lies and deceit, beginning with the affliction of John’s former partner (Michael Madsen) who in fact has been ensuring that Roark gets his girls, with no hassle from the police. This is followed by much violence, and the beginning of much decapitation of peni (is that the plural :P)
After John is left as what could only been seen as dead, the story cuts to that of Marv.

There’s a nice description of Marv in the film said by Dwight (Owen) . Marv (Rourke) is introduced fairly quickly as a brute of a man, causing destruction left and right while he escapes from the police, on suspicion that he murdered a hooker named Goldie, whom he believed he had fallen in love with. He exacts his revenge, with many humorous scenes, and I believe here I must mention one thing;

The film’s portrayal of the church. Now I had never realised it when I read the graphic novels... I was young. You see the Cardinal proclaiming how he and Kevin ate Goldie, along with Marv going gun crazy with the vicar in the confession box, who was also a little crooked, and I thought, ‘geez! guess maybe Miller doesn’t like the church too much’ But then in Sin City, there do not tend to be many innocents left... or maybe he’s just showing how crooked they can really be, I do not speak with much experience, living in a small village with a little church...

As I mentioned with the story of Marv came some humorous scenes, unfortunately I can only remember two at the moment. One of my personal favourites was when he was interrogating another informant by the process of dragging his face across the road, while in a moving car. At this short scene Marv says something like;

“ I don't know about you, but I'm havin' a ball. ”

I thought that part was great, very funny...not too sure of the audiences’ reaction. Although I do remember one guy laughing his head off at the execution scene. Where Marv was not zapped quite enough ensuing him to ask the line

“Is that the best you can do, you pansies!”

In the process of exacting revenge of those that killed Goldie, Marv comes across Kevin (Elijah Wood) who, playing a rather untypecast character pulls it off pretty smoothly.. Making a disturbing character, with his child-like smile of his.

The third story follows Dwight (Owen) which I felt seemed to be the longest of them all; perhaps this is because I always felt it was a rather long read. But it informs the audience of how in Sin City things are not always as they seem. Now I remembered when watching the film, the shock that Jackie (Del Toro) was a cop was a real twist, something I never suspected. Believe it or not the same thing happened when I watched it at the cinema. Now I love this story full of the twists and turns. I thought as usual that Benicio Del Toro pulled off a great dangerous, crazy cop guy... who although to me looked a lot different from the comic. The story also carried with it, what proved to be the funniest part of the whole film. I am of course speaking of the moment when a message is passed on to Manute (Michael Clark Duncan) through a message on an arrow, pierced through a one of his guys. This scene got uproars of laughter in the cinema, and it made me laugh when I originally read it... something that isn’t common place when reading something for me anyway.

But of course I mustn’t forget to mention this is the story containing what you’ve all been waiting for! Quentin Tarintino’s director spot, ‘Oh Brother!’

The fourth, or second part of story two then follows, wrapping up the following 8 years Hartigan spent in jail, and follows him saving Nancy... again. This story contains yet another great bit, which I had originally loved in the comic. He feeds Nancy what she wants to hear, everything will be alright, I’ll get our revenge. When he knows there’s no chance of anything. So he kills himself.

"An old man dies. A young girl lives. A fair trade. I love you, Nancy."

And of course, I the nit-picker hate the fact they changed the position Hartigan shoots himself, because it looks ridiculous. Other than that, a nice end to the story. Just how it had been in the comic, no happy ending, no fairy tale resolution.

My favourite part of the film hands down was the two shorts involving the hitman; now in the graphic novels, he did appear a couple of times, but I loved both sequences that they had used with him, regardless of the fact that they had used Josh Hartnett, who I thought was just your run of the mill mediocre actor nowadays, he executed the part pretty well. For me the whole of the little scene embodies the spirit of Sin City, the seediness and low down drudgery it involves, the line;

“The silencer makes a whisper of a gunshot. I hold her close until she’s gone. I’ll never know what she was running from. I’ll cash her check in the morning”

Once again, with little words, I cannot explain why I love the scene so much.
This reminds me to mention how much I also liked the music composed for the film; with it all being rather parallel to the action, I believe it was suited beautifully. The score could have gone down a completely different avenue -of rock and metal music- thank god it didn’t.

Another point that I immediately realised while watching the film was how tame it was compared to the original graphic novels... in the graphic novels, everyone tended to be naked at some part... not that I was hoping for that, but it was something that struck me, making the film very different.

Upon watching the film, the immediate aspect to pick up on is the closeness. Now of course, this wouldn’t be if Frank Miller hadn’t been a direct consultant on the film, it would be nothing like it is. Of course when I came back home from watching the film I immediately consulted the graphic novels, finding that it was almost word for word, some shots looking exactly the same as the panels in the comics.

Another point I found funny, when watching it at the cinema, is that you, as an audience, never know when it ended. There were some moments where the screen would fade to black, and stay in the transition for a pretty long time. When the end had finally come around -which I had realised due to the bookend type ending- the audience had to wait for the music and credits to roll before they could be absolutely sure.

It’s strange I find myself continuously comparing films to video games now... now I have to figure out if that says something about the quality of video games, or the quality of films... But regardless throughout the film I did not realise it would make me want to play Max Payne so much in my life. Throughout reading the comics, I never felt the relation with the narration over Sin City. But then I’m only comparing them on the basis of a voice-over... I will not go too deep so as to confuse myself.

I found that the acting in the film was far greater than that of ROTS (Which I have most recently watched). Although I must say I was focused far greater on the dialogue, so I did not really look for bad acting, once again the story far too engrossing I failed to pick up on bad acting unless it was sticking out like a sore thumb (ROTS)

The chiaroscuro *pronounced with awful fake Italian accent* present in the film was marvellous, something that you could think would only be possible if it were drew onto paper.
Overall I must say that the screen adaptation of Sin City is the best new film I have seen this year, and perhaps the best comic-book film I have ever seen. Never has a film so visually stunning, with large usage of green-screen techniques ever made a blip in my radar. This is the kind of film that makes me believe in cinema once again. Perhaps even going so far as to cool my hatred of special effects.

Cptalbertwesker rating 9/10 Best film of the year so-far, can’t wait to hope that the sequels will be as good. I apologise for such a long review... in my defense it was a good film.

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