Sin City

My first fifteen minutes of Sin City can be summed up this way: Wow! Rodriguez and Miller really pulled it off, transfiguring Frank Miller’s black-and-white ink drawings into the stuff of cinema. Again, wow! This could be the most revolutionary thing to happen to film noir since Lars von Trier’s Zentropa. The remaining two hours of this movie quickly and decisively deflated these early exhilarations.

Miller may be a brilliant visual stylist, but he doesn’t have a grasp on storytelling. To make narrative cinema, you need three things: character, character, character. You take your character through a process of change from one turn to the next and come up with a conclusion that stays true to what your character has learned. In Sin City, the characters do not change, they learn nothing. In fact, the movie’s characters are just cheap knock-offs of noir staples (Chandler, Hammett, not to mention Bogart are all rolling around in their graves). Also, it is supremely easy to demonize politicians and priests–something we’ve seen way too much of in our popular culture–surely, we can move on, folks.

Also, what’s up with Miller’s obsession with decapitations, castrations, with disfigured men, and whores? Without a sense of reason or direction, the movie fails to thematically cohere its macabre spider-work into anything higher and greater. Any improvement on this fetishistic faux-urban nonsense would’ve taken a real storyteller, somebody who knew the ropes and could stay true to the narrative arc. There is no arc in Sin City — just a long flatline that takes its one-note protagonists from one grisly episode to the next and, satisfying every male adolescent fantasy along the way. Odd how the movie’s politics of gender, violence and sex is as monochromatic as its visual approach. But this is the new Hollywood, where semi-literate masturbations like Sin City pass for brilliant moviemaking. And you can’t tell me this is what noir is about. It isn’t. Read and watch the real stuff.

My own trajectory while watching Sin City –excited, bored, offended…back to bored…roll credits. What offended me was not the violence nor the sensationalism (it’s all been done before) but the sheer inanity of the storytelling. Tell Frank Miller to put a sock in it and check into therapy so he can address his infantile issues with women. He can keep drawing his pictures and put them in pretty little frames. I might even buy one then sell it to some gullible Ritalin-tweaking 13-year old for more money than it’s worth on eBay. But who’s listening, right? Not when you’ve got legions of brainwashed, sexually frustrated, violence-obsessed fanboys at your beck and call. It’s a sad day when stuff like this actually passes for “good.”

A royal piece of aesthetisized dogshit and a huge step backwards for Hollywood, for women and for brains.

Grade: D

Directed by: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino (special guest director)
Written by: Frank Miller
Cast: Jessica Alba, Benicio Del Toro, Bruce Willis, Elijah Wood, Brittany Murphy, Mickey Rourke, Powers Boothe, Michael Madsen, Rosario Dawson, Clive Owen, Michael Clarke Duncan

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