Monday, April 18, 2005

Weekend Report, pt. 2: Sin City

Friday night, Bobbie and I ate at Senor Fish, which is allways fun because you sit outside and get to bring your own beer, and then went to see Sin City at our favorite theater, The Vista in Silverlake. I thoroughly enjoyed Sin City, although I'm not sure whether I think it's actually a good film. NPR has a great piece up about the film--Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller in an hour long interview conducted by Kevin Smith. I love that RR completely threw out the rulebook to bring these comics to the screen in a more direct way than had ever been done before, even if some of those rules (go easy on the voice-overs, for instance) are pretty good advice, and the result is, I think, a success in terms of what they were trying to accomplish, but part of that process of experimentation has to include looking at the final product and determining which things worked and which didn't. The white blood, for instance. I've seen Frank's comics, so I know what they were going for. It works great on the page, and in some instances it looks great on the screen, but more often than not I thought it looked bad and distracting.

Thinking about it, most of my problems with Sin City come from the original stories, which are just kinda retarded. I'm not really interested in discussing most of the obvious sexist/mysoginist material, but the one aspect I did find interesting was that all these stories revolve around a "knight in shining armor" type who is fighting to protect or avenge a woman (in all cases, an appropriately young [especially in relation to her leading man, in some cases bordering on pedophelia], beautiful, "perfect" woman) in a world where that sort of thing just doesn't make sense--where evil is so pervasive and all-powerful that virtue seems pointless. The picture of corrupt power in Sin City is like a leftist nightmare of capitalism: the rich can get away with any crime, and anyone who stands up to them gets steamrolled.

Things I liked: Rory Gilmore, clothed in bondage attire, in full femme fatale mode. The voluptuos Carla Gugino. The whole Girls of Oldtown concept. Hell, if I'm watching a movie wherein sexy chicks in dominatrix garb are displaying deadly skill with samurai swords and weapons that look like that thing Krull had, only shaped like a swastika, you won't hear me complain. And I liked Clive Owen, both for the character he played and the performance he gave. Totally Bogart: he's not some super-warrior, no great skills, just a guy who knows how to handle himself, who's smart and clever enough to survive a situation that he shouldn't be able to, like Sam Spade or Phillip Marlowe. The scene in the car with Del Toro's corpse (I believe this was the scene Tarantino directed) was fantastic. Willis, playing the steel-eyed stoic hero...I dunno, I can generally do without that stuff, but it was better than Armagedon, for sure. And Mickey Rourke played it pretty well, a better Ben Grimm-type than I expect to see in the FF movie.

Generally speaking, I think Rodriguez is better when he's working with other people's material--From Dusk 'til Dawn is still his best work. Watching most Rodriguez flicks, you get the feeling that he had a hundred ideas of stuff that would be cool to put into a movie, but no ideas about a good story. The first Spy Kids works, based mostly on simplicity, and I remember thinking El Mariachi was pretty good, but most of the hype for that film was centered around what it wasn't rather than what it was: "proof that you can make an entertaining action movie without a huge budget!" And after that, the series just fell the fuck off. So I think Sin City, for all the flaws the material posesses, is probably better than anything he could come up with on his own.


Fresh Air piece on Lipstick & Dynamite, a new documentary about the history of female wrestling. Includes interview with The Fabulous Moolah.

2 hours of different versions of Hawaiian War Chant!


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