Thursday, March 31, 2005

Sin' City

Alright, I'll try to keep this short, but before we get started- do not read this until you've seen the movie. And if you haven't seen it yet, what the hell's your problem? It's been out for a fuckin' year! Frank Miller translating one of his greatest creations onto the big screen, not to mention the most amazing assemblance of B-list talent I've seen at one time since Robert Blake's trial. Robert Rodriguez, who blasted his way into my cinematic awareness with Desperado (if anyone says "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" I'm going Marv on your ass); Benicio del Toro (Fear and Loathing, Usual Suspects, Way of the Gun, need I say more?); Bruce Willis, who has at this point cornered the market on the "burned out, disgruntled, bitter old cop," a near-perfect extrapolation of Mel Gibson's Detective Riggs; Jessica Alba, who although awesome as Nancy, risks tarnishing her performance here with the guaranteed embarrassment of this summer's Fantastic Four; Elijah Wood (outstanding as the vicious Kevin, although he'll always be my sweet little Frodo); Mickey Rourke, in a role he was born to play; a surprisingly good Clive Owen, reminiscent to me of the fearless determination he displayed as the professor whilst pursuing Jason Bourne; Powers Booth, who hasn't been this spiteful since Tombstone; Rutger Hauer- that's right, Rutger fucking Hauer! Are you kidding me? I dragged Sherri to see the first showing on opening day.

Which brings me to an important point (if I may steal from one of the greatest icons of our generation): First rule of Sin City is- you do not take your wife. The second rule of Sin City is- you DO NOT take your wife. Now that we've made that clear, let's go. From the opening scene, you know you are along for the ride on perhaps the single-most stylistically creative movie ever to grace the theatres. That's right, it's so visually stunning that you have to spell "theater" with the "e" at the end: theatre. But don't be fooled, it's not THAT kind of movie. It's as if Rodriguez spliced a video feed into his brain and read the comics, projecting his visions onto the screen. The movie is so true to the stories that it's ridiculous. The guy even resigned from the Director's Guild so he could get Miller a co-director credit on the damn movie! That's dedication. The violence was not toned down at all, though much of the blood was white, and quite a bit was yellow. No need to explain that last part, I hope. The visuals were amazing, like the comic book literally just leapt up onto the screen.

Having read all the books, and knowing exactly what was going to happen, did not at all detract from one of my most enjoyable moviegoing experiences of the past year. Even Michael Madsen's horrifically cringe-inducing over-acting (don't get me wrong, I love Madsen. He was Vic Vega for fuck's sake) didn't really bring the experience down. I mean, in a movie like this you almost expect some over the top moments. But trust me, he was so over the top he would've beaten Stallone in an arm-wrestling match. Seriously. That kid who played Stallone's son would've been all "C'mon, dad! Over the top!!" And Stallone would be all "I can't do it this guy is way more over the top than me!" Mickey Rourke, on the other hand, was brilliant. He was so perfect as Marv, he was basically Madsen's polar opposite as an actor; Rourke was John Belushi to Madsen's Jim. Definitely the toughest guy on screen since... I don't know, Travis Bickle? The guy jumps off a building like he thinks he's one of the Boondock Saints, gets shot more times than a rap star, and gets run over repeatedly (and no, I'm not going to do a Paula Abdul joke). And that's at the start of his story. He could whoop ANYONE'S ass. The scenes where he's "asking" people about Goldie, he puts Sargeant Hartman to shame. (Yeah, lots of pop-culture references in this review it's been awhile, I've got to make up some lost ground.) And the way it's filmed, you never doubt for a second how realistic it is.

That's the great thing about Miller's stories, the tough guys are fucking TOUGH. That, and there's lots of strippers. The "Old Town" story is great, Clive Owen is tough as hell, and the strippers are even tougher. Brittany Murphy was even bearable in her brief screentime, which is saying a lot. The only real distraction that took me out of my make-believe world in which it's possible for an old, grizzled, washed-up 60-some year old man to get out of prison after 8 years only to find that a hot, 19-year-old stripper wants to hump his brains out... whoa. Sorry, got a little lost there. Anyway, as I was saying, the zorro-stripper (or were they hookers? I'm not sure) was kind of goofy. But it's such a minor point, what the hell am I complaining about? That's like saying the new Mustang is stu-fucking-pendously cool, except for that lame-ass speedometer design.

One final point before I cut this short to go see it again: the intersecting-trilogy-storytelling (well, there's the hired killer story that bookends the movie, but I don't know a fancy word for "four stories."). At least as cool as Pulp Fiction in that regard. I won't even get into how bad-ass Michael Clarke Duncan is, or how Miho is so deadly that she might even (I said "might") be able to kill the Bride, or how inspired the Dead-Jackie dialogue is, or how Miller's not afraid to kill off his best characters, or that Marv is truly a bad motherfucker in fact, I think Jules should give his wallet to Marv. The guy amputated all Kevin's limbs and fed the rest of him to a dog; who's more of a bad motherfucker than that? The baddest motherfucker I know carries a black-jack around for the hell of it and gets in fights for fun. Maybe he could make it in Sin City I think I should stick to SoCal.

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