Corte Madera Chronicles

A group blog; a place to share photos, thoughts, stupid shit we find on the internet, whatever. Hopefully we'll get at least one post per day from someone, and not so many posts that it's too overwhelming. Have fun!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Sin City

I saw Sin City by myself, as I live in Los Angeles and don't have any friends. If I had seen it in the Bay Area with a bunch of friends, I probably would have enjoyed it more than I did.

Which isn't to say I hated it. But I've had a hard time connecting to that geeky gleeful feeling that I used to get from movies like this. So I was a little more sensitive to the problems and a little less excited about the cool stuff.

Summarizing my thoughts:

I loved Mickey Rourke -- he looked perfect and really nailed the part. More than anyone else in the movie and certainly more than the other male narrators, he felt like he belonged in Sin City. Awesome. If the whole movie had been focused around Marv, or if everyone else got it to the extent that he did, it could have been a great film.

Clive Owen didn't do anything for me at all, and Bruce Willis was fine but was much more Bruce Willis than Hartigan. I thought Rosario Dawson was great. Elijah Wood was perfect and an inspired bit of casting. Jessica Alba was totally forgettable and the decision to cast someone who wouldn't take off her top in the strip club was just wrong -- it really changed her character from the graphic novel.

Robert Rodriguez makes a big deal out of editing his own films, and after Once Upon A Time In Mexico and this, I think he's making a big mistake. In several scenes, I felt the rhythm was completely off. Not as bad as in Once Upon A Time In Mexico, but still bad enough to be a problem. His action scenes have cool shots but don't fit together in a way that simultaneously tells the story and gets your blood pumping -- this is a pretty common fault these days, but this guy is supposed to be better than that and he's just not. And it's not just the action scenes. Most of the dialogue scenes are flat, or flatter than they could be, because he's not using rhythm in any kind of purposeful way.

The visual style was cool; in places it was very cool. There was actually far less stylization than I was expecting from all the hype -- for the most part, it's black-and-white with bits of color in almost every shot. Far more color than in the graphic novel, and a hell of a lot more gray than the original solid blacks and solid whites. I thought the occasional dips to pure black and pure white were effective (like at the end of the Hartigan story), and I wish there had been more of that.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. What did you all think?

2 Comments:

At 4:10 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

Well, let’s see… I can’t really relate to your editing comment, especially when compared to the tragedy that was Once Upon a Time in Mexico. I don’t think the editing was that bad at all. I’m usually somewhat sensitive to such a thing, but probably not as sensitive as you are, so I’ll let that one be.

I’ll tell you one thing though, I’ve never seen a movie that is as true to the comic a Sin City is. I don’t know when the last time you read the books was, but I read books 1 through 5 (and a collection of shorts (“Booze, Broads, and Bullets”) just a week prior to seeing the movie, and I have got to say I’m impressed with how alike the film and the books are. The movie contained 4 out of the 5 stories I’m familiar with, and none that I wasn’t familiar with, and it is shot for shot and line for line straight out of the books. I mean, the cinematography was spot on. This might be where some of you pacing issues came from. They were definitely rigid in their shot structure, and I think that was a product of trying to do the books so much justice.

As a matter of fact, I think most of the flaws came out of trying to do the books so much justice. For instance, I had a hard time getting into the groove of the acting at first. Josh Hartnett and Bruce Willis were horrible right of the bat (though I thought Willis was better when his scenario picked back up). That script was 100% authentic, and as we all know, straight up graphic novel dialog and realistic movie dialog are two different things. I thought the actors deliveries were subordinate to the script, which I realize doesn’t make much sense, but it worked for me once I got into the groove. Something about the way it was performed fit for me. I never interpreted the comic as realistic, so in essence it worked.

I had an opposite impression of the casting. I thought Clive Owens was much more Dwight than Bruce Willis was Hartigan. Hartigan is supposed to be 70, and that is a major aspect of his character. Willis seemed like he was 50 or so. I thought Dwight was more or less the correct look, age, and demeanor.

But hell, Elijah Wood IS Kevin. I would have never thought of that casting, but it was awesome. I would have liked to see someone a little more weak and wormy as Roark, in the book he’s like three feet tall and more skittish, which makes it even cooler when Marv busts in. Marv, by the way, was freaking awesome. That was definitely my favorite scenario. I think he was really well cast.

The girls of old town were sort of a mixed bag, but overall I liked ‘em. I liked Miho more in the film than in the books, and that’s saying something.

I was pleased that they didn’t really tone anything down. For some reason I expected a little less violence and nudity, but for the most part those aspects were left intact, which is good because for a world like Sin City they are very important. All the Old Town girls were scantily clad, the parole office was buck naked when Marv busts in, Hartigan rips the yellow bastards unit off, the wolf eating Kevin alive. All of those things add up, and I’m happy they didn’t wimp out once. (actually, from an ultra-violence stand point it reminded me of Kill Bill)

The visual style was awesome; I wasn’t disappointed. I wasn’t expecting it to be all high contrast because that wouldn’t read as well in motion as it does on a comic book page. They could have done more high contrast, but it would have had to be in the form of side-shot silhouettes to read well on screen, and I bet if you asked Frank Miller what was more important: high-contrast or composition, he would have gone with the composition. Plus, it was more than just a black and white film, the contrast always felt manipulated to me.

And if you still think the lack of high-contrast is so disappointing, consider the benefits. My only real gripe with the illustrations of the book was that the high-contrast didn’t read nearly as well in close-ups. Sometimes I felt like I didn’t always get a clear understanding of what the characters facials features were all about, or I missed some action element that was concealed in the positive or negative space, but the movie didn’t share this quality with the book, which is a good thing in my book. I don’t think a 100% high-contrast live action film would be as cool as you think. It could end up looking like shitty, stylized 3D animation.

You and I haven’t had an opportunity to discuss the art in the comic yet, but hopefully we will soon. Just in case you are unclear as to what I thought, I loved it.

But let’s get to the real issue, shall we? Jessica Alba. I’ve had a little bit of a crush on her for some time, but now I’ve got a MAJOR crush on her. She’s hot dude, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Yes, I was disappointed that she wasn’t revealing much skin, but DAMN, that girl can move her body! I mean, in like a hypnotic sort of way (like Selma Hyack in From Dusk Till Dawn). I don’t know what stories you have read that I haven’t, but I thought her character came off as pretty true to the book. Perhaps you’ve read further stories that revolve around her that I have not, but if that is the case then you’re trying to see more depth in her character that wasn’t originally present at this stage in the story. Well, that or you’re right and I’m wrong. It probably wouldn’t be the first time. Either way, more over Kate Beckinsale.

Two thumbs up.

-Jeff

 
At 3:34 PM, Blogger Lorrimer said...

Dude, Jessica Alba is not as hot as Kate Beckinsale.

This is probably what most blog arguments degenerate to eventually. But I'll stand by that. Jessica Alba looks like an Olson twin. Kate Beckinsale is hot.

You've actually read more Sin City than I have. I've only read That Yellow Bastard and Sin City (the one with Marv). I haven't read the one the Clive Owen story is from -- he might be perfect for the role, but he came off very flat for me. Nothing compelling or interesting about him at all. But this could be personal taste. I agree with you that Bruce Willis was definitely way too young for Hartigan. Also not bulky enough.

You're probably right about the amount of high-contrast stylization. It's a good-looking film.

And I'm being picky about the pacing. Probably it's the type of thing that only bothered me because I wasn't as swept up in the whole thing as I would have liked to have been; if I was seeing this a few years back with a big group of geeky friends after a bowl or three in the parking lot, it would have been easier to get into.

 

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