Sin City

Sin City, the movie, is an incredibly faithful translation to screen of Sin City, the comic.

I assume.

See, I’ve never read Sin City, and I probably invalidate my entire review of the movie (assuming anyone cares about my review) by admitting this, since the reason I’ve never read the books is pretty damning: I don’t like Frank Miller’s schtick. I don’t like the tough-as-nails, grim-n-gritty, man’s men and man’s women deal. I like my comics writers to have even a slight, passing interest in subtlety, and Frank Miller has no interest. Subtlety is not his, and especially Sin City’s, thing. Which is fine, there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not to my particular taste. Nothing about Sin City has ever interested me, so I never picked it up.

So why’d I go see the movie? Honestly, I don’t know. I was certainly intrigued by the visuals, and I guess I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt, but really, I guess I should have known better.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike the movie. It was fine. It didn’t kick my ass, it didn’t bowl me over. I went in biased in the opposite direction from most geeks seeing the film: not only had I not loved the books, I hadn’t had any interest in them.

The word that I think best describes the movie is relentless. It never lets up. In any way. The staccato, deadpan, noir dialogue starts off at parody and just never lets up, to the point where I found myself laughing at lines of dialogue and not knowing if I was laughing with them or at them. There were moments when I could see Miller saying, “I’ve no idea what to do with this guy to make him over the top, so when in doubt, add a swastika.” There are several stories packed into the movie, and at least one too many.

I compare it with Pulp Fiction, a movie which similarly featured the intertwining stories of a bunch of reprehensible people. Except in that movie for me, unlike Sin City, I actually found myself wanting to know what happened to the characters beyond just finishing out the necessities of the plot.

I’m pretty much by myself on this one, but again, I fully admit that there’s really no reason I should have gone to it. It was not meant for me. Those who enjoy the books, and a lot of people who are unfamiliar with the books seem to have liked it, so that should carry far more weight. I guess maybe I was kind of hoping that I would really like it, and would see the appeal and want to then read the books, but all it kind of did for me was confirm that I was right in thinking I wouldn’t really enjoy them.

(Oh, I forgot to mention. Yes, it was raining today when we went (well, drizzling just a little), but I don’t think that completely accounts for all the trenchcoats in the audience…)

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5 Responses to Sin City

  1. Shawn Fumo says:

    Well, don’t apologize. While I went in expecting to like it and did overall, but some of it was too much even for me. I agree that it did feel a bit long. Besides the dead talking head (and the guy with the arrow through him), I think I could have done without the whole arc in old town. I liked the arc with willis and for me Rourke’s character stole the whole. And yeah, the whole “manly man” stuff was a bit much at times. If I was showing it to someone that might not like it, I’d actually be tempted to just show the Marv bit as a kind of short movie.

    But I do think that plenty of it was meant with laughing in mind. I know I certainly laughed quite a bit and so did the rest of the audience, and it didn’t feel wrong… Even if it wasn’t meant that way, I don’t think they can seriously expect most of the movie to be taken with a straight face considering how over the top it gets at times.

    But I’m not so sure you’ll be in the minority as far as the general public goes. It may have gotten a lot of hype, but this movie is pretty uncompromising in what it is doing, and so fairly love or hate. At the theater on opening night, there was like 30 people there total, and our group was the oldest age-wise. It might actually bomb, but I guess we’ll have to wait on the weekend boxoffice..

  2. Likening it to Pulp Fiction was one of the things that came to mind for me as I watched it, too. I suspect that some of the people who weren’t turned off by the violence, brutality and/or T&A may have ultimately been put off by the multiple storylines and loose interconnections, expecting (based on the trailers) a more linear storyline centering on Bruce Willis’ character, with the other odd sorts coming in as either a direct aid to him or to get revenge on his behalf.

    I did an extemporaneous — well, if not a review, then a string of commentary — on it shortly after getting back from seeing it Saturday night.

    “Over the top,” too, is a phrase I found myself using each time I talked to anyone in work about it on Monday. The comic book level of violence, the Mickey Spillane-ish dialogue and voice-over narration, it was all very thick. I suspect there had to be multiple takes for some of the actors to get their lines out with a straight face.

    The audience I saw it with — and the theater was fairly well-attended, especially seeing that we were getting intense downpours much of the day and night here in SE Pennsylvania — seemed unsure how to react through much of it. I laughed when it struck me, but the only spot I recall most of the people laughing was during one of Marv’s “interrogation” scenes, where he’s driving the car and holding a guy’s face to the street. It was brutal, but like so many things to do with Marv it was too absurd to take seriously. A couple in their early to mid-50s seated just ahead of us left the theatre once it was clear that Frodo was not simply a cannibal but a particularly sadistic one.

    I have scant familiarity with the source material, too, but I have to admit I was pleased to see that they stuck with a very 80s/early 90s vibe with respect to Miller’s work. Had Frank (for some reason) reworked it more to what his 21st sensibilities seem to be it would have been weak IMHO.

  3. Anya says:

    I almost died from boredom. Constant voice-over narrative works fine in comics, sort of, because some stuff is unseen, between-panels. In a motion picture, where you can plainly see the character walking across the road on a windy night with his coat flapping, it’s very tedious to hear him say “I am now walking across the road. It is windy. My coat is flapping.”

    “I now have a slight headache. I was also thinking I was going to sneeze, but then I didn’t. I hate when that happens. And it happened now. When I almost sneezed. But didn’t.”

    “I have long legs. My legs are long. Many men like to stare at them and several are doing so now. There are men here who like to stare at a girl’s long legs. My legs are long. I’m thinking of showing them to the men. Okay, now I have begun showing them to the men. The men like to stare at my legs as I am showing them”.

    Gaaaaah! Fucking redundant! The only reason I stayed awake was because my friend kept elbowing me in the gut and whispering “Ninja hookers! You have to see the ninja hookers!” very loudly into my ear.

    Plus, wow, taking itself seriously to the point of absurdity. But I suspect the book does too. Haven’t read it. Am not thinking of doing so. Thinking of hitting the Submit Comment button. Now commencing to hit the Su…

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