Monday, April 04, 2005

Sin City: LOVED

There was no possible way for me to be objective about this. Frank Miller was one of the first comic writer/artists to treat me like an adult. I remember clearly when I first read The Dark Knight Returns summer of '86. Before that I consumed a modest diet of Uncanny X-men, Justice League, and Avengers. "Dark Knight" shook me by the lapels. It opened my mind to other stories where morality was a little grayer and the meaning often bubbled beneath the surface.

I had all but given up on comics when Sin City caught my attention. Frank Miller turns Film Noir up to 11. This was right about the time Reservoir Dogs came out and I started reading Jim Thompson. Frank Miller's first Sin City book was nothing but broads, thugs, and killers. It was also so fucking thick with atmosphere. His mastery of negative space within the narrative forced you into each panel. His characters craggy, beaten faces. The way light spilled from behind blinds, striping the characters in thin bands of shadow.

I had always flirted with the idea of a Sin City movie in my head. Who would play Marv? Nick Nolte? Dwight? Dafoe? Would it be animated? The hope was always aborted as there just seemingly wasn't a way to capture the essence Frank Miller could with india ink. Years later I'd heard that Robert Rodriguez had filmed a short and given it to Frank Miller in hopes of acquiring the rights and, most importantly, his blessing.

Thank fucking God...He reportedly loved it and signed on. Not only as "Based on the comic by..." but as co-director. A huge show of solidarity on the part of RR.

Filmed entirely in green screen and on digital video, Rodriguez and Miller were able to recreate Sin City pixel by pixel from the ground up. Literally. The intital little trickles of info that came out had me buzzing. Mickey Roarke as MARV? That was just so wrong that it went all the way around the world to being right. Then I saw that first teaser poster. Roarke as Marv in solid, bright red; his face highlighted with almost glowing white bandages criss-crossed all over his mug. I was thrilled. I had the feeling, way back then, that RR and FM nailed it.

Fast forward to 4/1/05. I took the day off from work to catch the first show alone. The film started (in glorious DLP) and I was immediately transported to Sin City for 2 hours. It all gelled for me. The violence, the sexiness, the mood. What caught me off-guard was how funny it was. This was noir turned up to 11 and all the actors were in on it. Mickey Roarke's Marv stole the show. Coming off as a crossbreed of John Wayne and the Frankestein Monster that's been chewed up and spit out all raw and vulnerable. His pain, his need for revenge, and his concern for his drifting sanity are so perfectly articulated by Roarke.

Clive Owen plays Dwight McCarthy differently than I read him in The Big Fat Kill. He plays him quiet and detached but slowly slipping off the edge. It's his ability to reign it in at the critical moment that sells it. Rosario Dawson is an actress to watch. She's a total badass, here.
Willis and Alba in That Yellow Bastard are both great. It was an oddly affecting piece.

I went back to Sin City two more times this weekend convinced that I would spot the chinks in it's armor. Would I be checking my watch on that 3rd viewing? Hell no. the 3rd screening was magic. It was with a big saturday evening audience who seemed to "get it". The chatter outside the restrooms after the movie was incredibly positive. I saw a couple of mom-types talking about how much they loved it. People were actually happy.

Another one of the things that deserves mention is how Sin City delights in all it's excesses. It's extremely violent. There's more nudity than I think most modern audiences are used to seeing. But I never felt it was gratuitous or pandering. Lucille in naught but a thong clicking the hammer back on her snub-nosed revolver is so honestly evocative of Frank Miller's little town.

More later...


Post a Comment

<< Home