I didn’t scam free tickets to Sin City, but I got the next best thing (free $$ from the ‘rents), and so caught a showing.
The pale light from the 75-watt bulbs hits my hands, throwing bumps, bruises, pimples, and hairs into stark relief against the pale orange-white skin. The silver finish on my laptop burns into a dull grey; the keys barely whisper as my fingers crush them down. The room is hot, jungle hot; the pipes are always either iceberg cold or sweltering, no in-between. I’ve been thinking, and to some degree talking, like this, in the purple and bastardized tones of Chandler, Mitchum, and Hammet, for over three hours now, ever since the Dimension Films logo faded into a black that soon shot with grey and white, shouting the harshness of the universe into my soul.
Now, imagine two hours of that, non-stop. That’s Sin City, baby. Don’t visit if you can’t handle it.
This movie is quite possibly the perfect comics adaptation. That should be no surprise, as director Robert Rodriguez brought creator Frank Miller on as a co-director (much to the consternation of the Directors’ Guild, but that’s another seedy story) and pretty much used the comics (The Hardest Goodbye, The Big Fat Kill, and That Yellow Bastard, in case you’re taking notes for the next time you hit Barnes and Noble) as storyboards. Miller’s pencils are something that can’t be duplicated, especially in real life. But this movie comes damn close. Some of the credit, I have to give to the audacious decision to use bluescreen backgrounds in lieu of sets. It works, giving the streets and buildings of Basin City, Nevada the look and feel of real comic backgrounds. They look drawn, penciled onto the canvas of the world by the immortal hand of a sick and demented creator. There I go again.
The film is pure pulp, pure noir, exactly as it should be, because this is a love letter to those long-gone hard-boiled days, updated with copious amounts of sexuality and violence. Lots of violence. Frank Miller appears to love two things very much: criminals getting their genitals shot or ripped off, and people tied to chairs being beaten mercilessly. Oh, and blood. Buckets of it, all types, all colors. (Seriously; one character bleeds harsh white, another the yellow of a Cheerios box. It strikes me that Miller’s a lot better at this kind of prose than I am.)
The characters of Sin City, as you might expect, are not nice. Even the heroes are tarnished knights, torturers and killers only a little better than the human waste they hunt, whose only virtue is that they won’t hurt a woman (except maybe to keep her out of the way while they do their dirty work). And what women they have to revere and protect. A sweet stripper with a dangerous past running to catch up with her. A dyke parole officer who skims medication from her shrink girlfriend to a borderline psychotic ex-con. Hookers with hearts of gold, the mouths of sailors and big fucking guns. Only a cast well-versed at playing lowlifes and broken wings could pull this off, and that’s exactly what we get: Bruce Willis. Jessica Alba. Clive Owen. Rosario Dawson. Michael Clarke Duncan. Brittany Murphy. Elijah Wood. (Okay, he’s odd man out. Should prevent hobbit typecasting, though.) Jaime King. Mickey Rourke. Lemme talk about Mickey fucking Rourke a bit. The guy’s quite possibly the most disturbing individual in Hollywood, and that’s saying a lot, but it makes him perfect for the role of Marv, the ass-ugly psycho ex-con mentioned above, and hero of one of the three vignettes that make up the film. Check the pilot light in Hell, because Rourke is now on the Oscar short-list. Christ, just typing that is the most fucked-up thing I’ve ever done.
A discussion of plot is almost beside the point; it’s merely a series of events that drive the theme of the film, which is the brutal darkness that exists in the human soul. That’s what Sin City is about: the worst mankind has to offer, distilled into a living and breathing place more horrifying than anything that ever came out of H.P. Lovecraft or Stephen King’s diseased little heads (and God bless both those sick fucks), because it’s built wholly from the real cloth of everyday life. Sure, it’s filtered through the cracked lens of Frank Miller’s subconscious, but the raw material of it can be found in the cracks and corners of every city in this country, probably on this planet. I wouldn’t go looking for it, though; it’s bound to be more painful and less fun than this cinematic, 24-frame-per-second bullet-train to Hell via Crime Alley writ large.
As you may have gleaned, this film is not for those who dislike having their faces shoved into the sucking chest wounds of the human psyche. And having a penis will probably make you much more likely to appreciate the experience. But if you can handle being subjected to depraved, sickening acts of cruelty and violence that look absolutely fucking awesome, pay full ticket price, sit your ass in a chair that’s far more comfortable than the ones Marv, Gail, and Hartigan find themselves in, and brace yourself for a beating. Spitting blood at some point is mandatory.
Con report tomorrow, after I’ve got this shit out of my system.