Thursday, September 22, 2005

Sin City Poll

Buttercup and I watched this visual gem last evening and I found it disturbing and entertaining. There were 3 main plot lines: Bruce Willis, Clive Owen and Mickey Rourke.

To my suprise I liked the MR plotline the best followed by BW and then CO.

All other contributions welcome. Let the love flow!

Bunny out


Kern said...

Sheriff: I loved the hell out of that film. I am a huge fan of the source material and to see someone finally work towards achieving the seemingly impossible feat of correctly translated a comic book to film was great.

I think that the order of quality was spot on. Rourke as Marv was absolute brilliant casting. He really chewed the scenery without swallowing and gave the perfect mixture of grizzled hardass and twisted sympathy.

Bruce Willis was inspired as Hartigan as well, they really gave him a fantastic world weariness and there was a relatively palpable sense of tragedy that surrounded him. While Jessica Alba was hot, I didn't think she did much to help bring Nancy's character to life other than being good at wearing chaps. The That Yellow Bastard storyline is one of my favorite Sin City Tales anyway, so seeing it handled so well in general was amazing.

The story The Big Fat Kill is good, but even in the book it doesn't feel like there's much weight to it. It's rendered accurately enough, and it's a fun ride, which I think works well when sandwiched between the black hole sensibilities of the other two pieces surrounding it. I like Benecio as Jack Rafferty, but I was a little annoyed with how he altered his voice for the character. I think Iron Jack's sleazy behavior says enough about him without having to resort to a hyperbolically slimy speech pattern.

Props also to the nearly completely nude Carla Gugino, as well as Jamie King. Yowza.

There are questions I have about how they are going to approach the sequel since they are doing "A Dame To Kill For" next. I don't know who's read the books, so if no one, I'll just keep mum about what I mean.

Damfino said...

I concur the props with a "SHAZAM!!"

Busy as all kids... yo

Sheriff Officer Greg the Bunny said...

Well spoken my friend....I have not read the books so your future concerns are yours alone.

Kern, as always, has set the bar very high friends of fino. Pithy, well written comments only need apply.

bunny out

Kern said...

Thanks Sheriff! I will say this: the aspect that will be challenging was subtly referred to by Dwight at one point in the film. I think it shot by most people who haven't read the books, but he talks about having a new face, something that is directly related to the second book in the Sin City series(the Big Fat Kill was book 3).

Also, if they choose to do A Dame To Kill For, everyone gets to find out what the hell happened to Manute's eye.

Hopefully that did not err on the side of spoiler-ish.

Deit Heimley said...

It was quite funny watching the movie with Wyatt. He is a movie talker who is the complete antithesis of everything Jed promotes. During The Big Fat Kill he kept leaning over to tell me who each of the supermodel hookers were and which fashion lines and make-up lines they represented. As a regional Lancome Make-up artist his knowledge of make-up and supermodels and their contracts is extensive. Though he looks at supermodels the same way as most guys look at sports stars. He found it as fasinating that a Versace exclusive model would be in a movie where she was wearing some other designer's clothing as anything else. But that's Wyatt. We could be watching the most dramatic and well written story and if the heroine goes into the bathroom and grabs a bottle that Wyatt recognizes as a moisturiser and washes her face the movie is ruined. Or worse yet, a movie is set in 1975, and a woman pulls out a compact that was not designed and released until 1987.

My father is the same way with gun shots. He is a foresic investigator, so his knowledge of gun shot wounds is impressive. And if you get it wrong, you have just lost a viewer. His favorite movie is Seven. It took me four hours to make it through that DVD with him. He would pause it at certain scenes and bring out a pointer to show how this was an acurate depiction of a crime scene. He calls it the most accurate portrayal of true crime scene foresics he has ever seen on a movie. Even still, he did have a few pointers to give to the director on how some of the background investigators should have behaved.

I hear the footbal players hate most football movies for much the same reasons above.

But the point being, that despite the negatives I had about plot and dialouge, Wyatt liked it because they got so much right in the fashion and make-up part of the movie. Which is telling as the movie was 85% graphic. The plot and dialouge seemed to serve no greater purpose than to drive the movie for pretty shot to pretty shot.

And that's fine for a movie based on a graphic novel. I guess though I just didn't think it held much more than it's graphic beauty. You are right that Rourk as Merv was inspired, but it stops at his successful interpretation of a picture. There was just no real emotional resonence in this film. So I give it highest marks for it's graphic component, but much lower marks on plot, dialouge, and acting.

Feel free to throw stones now.

Deit Heimley said...

Jed! I thought you were disapointed with the movie as well. Don't make me pull out your prior comments on this mixed work of art!!

Kern said...

No stones thrown here. I will say that while it's not a good excuse, this is one of the cases where familiarity with the source material and/or the nature of the source material is key.

I hate to sound like a Judas to my comic book brethren, but I think in this instance there is a lot of truth to the fact that Sin City's execution is impressive mostly for its ability to faithfully translate its source material to the screen.

One of the biggest criticisms of Miller's comics is that they are nihlistic and hollow. This has a certain ring of truth to it, but I would argue that the world of Sin City in the books is an mutated noir with roots in Chandler and Jim Thompson perhaps, but with a decidedly visual emphasis. This isn't to say that the premises of the books are not fun at the core, but what Miller tries to accomplish in his comics isn't so much about the depth of the story; it's far more about mise-en-scene and controlled explosions of emotion and human impulse in a vacuum. In large part I think this is why it translated so well to the screen, and goes along with the general agreement of fans and non-fans alike that despite plot discrepancies, it is visually stunning and captures the book.

Simply put, it's my opinion that perhaps the standard of judgement for movies like Sin City(and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but that's another rant entirely) should be slightly adjusted to take into account the spirit of the source material rather than trying to view it as a soverign work.

Just my two cents.

Kern said...

I might actually recycle my comments on my blog and do an article on films that are more of an extension of their source material rather than films that stand alone. That might be cool.

Deit Heimley said...

There are two ways to make a movie from a book. The first way if to say "That was a great book, now let's make a great movie." I think LOTR was that way. It is just lightly based on the books. The key plot points and characters were there, but much of the heart of the books translated differently to the film. One glaring example is the hollowing out of the stuggle of friendship that the third book goes into that is wholly missing in the movie. Both are good on their own, and stand alone. Reading the books does nothing to help you watch the movie and visa versa. In fact, expiriencing one is a completely different expirience that the other. Spiderman 2 was also of that mold. You did not have to know much about Spiderman to love the movie. There were many things in that movie that would have chaffed Spiderman purists. Key elements in Spiderman were changed or truncated to make a better movie.

The second way to adapt a book is to see the book as a template for the movie. Sin City was almost a frame for frame recreation of the book. As such, it suffers from having to obey the mistakes of the book. You are right that loving the book means that you are more likely to love the movie, and visa versa, but I like more the movies that do stand on their own. Movies that make me love them no matter how much I loved the book.

In order to have done that, the movie would have had to have parted ways with the book. And what would have been wrong with that??

I think Sin City is important because it more fully reconized the importance of the visual part of the movie, and what could be done with the graphic to make a work of art on screen.

However, I think movies with an exessive amount of green screen do suffer in terms of acting and plot. Actors act best to people and scenes not tennis balls on a string. Look at H2G2. They could have used more green screen for cheaper special effects, but the director thought that this would diminish the comedy. Already I complained that the part of Marvin in that movie was far less effective than in the book because the actors could not react to Marvin's delivery. The voice was added after the scene was shot, and so actors just said their lines on cue, and not in response to the other actor.

In Sin City, the graphics were so perfectly realized, yet the actors were not a part of that greater picture. They were just saying their lines, sometimes to a tennis ball. Remaining faithful to the graphics of the book was the biggest thing the movie had going for it, it was also the biggest obsticle to overcome. In this case, I thought the execution was something less than I had hoped.

Kern said...

I see your points. I think the only place we diverge slightly is where as you viewed the movie as being bound to the mistakes of the books, I don't neccesarily view the plot being secondary as a mistake so much as I think that Miller's concepts are far less to do with plot but more with atmosphere. This probably sounds like a copout to excuse the lack of plotting, but I don't believe that's the case. As an avid fan of the books, I personally just think that Sin City(the books) were always more about using noir plots as a loose guide to immerse people in an atmosphere rather than a story per se. Generally, I know that noir is about story to be sure, but a good deal of noir is atmosphere.

Ultimately, I agree that in most cases it's a shortcoming of a director to make a work that cannot stand without reference to its source material.

But I think Miller's intent with this piece was indeed to set out to replicate his books as closely as possible. His take, I think was that he was making a movie for the people who adore the books and his original intent, which admittedly is not well thought out storytelling, but almost the sole use of powerful visuals to encapsulating the reader/viewer in a dark, gritty world that they'd never experience otherwise.

Deit Heimley said...

I agree with the premise of your arguement. Namely you are saying that we should not compare a Jackson Pollak with an Edward Hopper. One exists to just be art, the other tries to say something greater than the picture painted on the canvas.

I think Sin City exists to just be pretty, and that's fine. I just would like to see a Sin City type of movie that was about something more than being pretty pictures across the screen.

I think that movies NEED to be bigger. A picture you can hang and admire, even the book you can put on your coffee table and look at, but can we really do that with a movie? Can we really just discplay it?

I think this goes to Jed's theory that we expirience movies more than just look at them and watch them. They are viseral in every way. So, as a work of art, Sin City is very successful. However, as a movie, Sin City fails miserably to convey that larger expirience that a movie needs to provide.

Kern said...

Deit, that's a very good way to put it. Bravo!

Kern said...

The above compliment was mostly in regard to the Hopper/Pollack comparison. I still think that portraying an atmosphere is a little more that just pretty pictures, but I the thing I agree with ultimately is that as a work of art Sin City is very successful, and it doesn't do its job as a movie.