Sunday, April 3rd, 2005

The Big Fat Kill

So Sin City. The first thing that needs to be said, and everyone is saying it, is that it is absolutely true to the comic. Moreso than any other comic-to-film adaptation of recent years, which usually at best can say that they capture the spirit of the source material, Sin City can say it IS the source material, just brought to life onscreen. This will certainly appease the purists, who are usually the most vocal critics of any adaptation, but does it necessarily make for a good film? I say yes – but with a caveat.

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that Sin City is genre fiction. It’s pulp. Film noir. Hard-boiled, gritty, violent, etc. It is definitely NOT campy. The women are femme fatales, the men either debased or in need of redemption. Sin City is not necessarily great literature, but it is great at what it is. To appreciate it, you have to be standing on the right side of the fourth wall – if you’re outside, you coud well think it’s depraved and hokey and you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. But if you’re on the inside, it’s a helluva ride. It’s almost a shame that the film is being hyped to the degree that it is, because it’s really not a film for everyone.

Many of the highly-stylized visuals are almost shot-for-shot recreations of the comics (Filmrot has drawn up some exhibits using footage from the trailers) and the use of black-and-white with splashes of strategically placed super-saturated colur, like the comics, is even more striking on screen. But everyone and their mother-in-law has gone on about the technical wonder of the film, so I’ll just say that it looks freakin’ amazing and leave it at that.

Story-wise, it draws on the original Sin City story (aka “The Hard Goodbye”), “The Big Fat Kill” and “That Yellow Bastard” as well as a short story I’ve not read for the prologue (and epilogue?). Much of the dialogue and narration is also taken verbatim from the source material – the device does work better in print, but if, as I’ve said, you buy in, you don’t really mind. Rather than keep the three stories completely discrete, the film takes a half-hearted attempt to combine them and linear-ize the intersecting storylines. It doesn’t really work. Cutting up “That Yellow Bastard” might make sense chronologically, but it doesn’t really help the story any and timeline consistency isn’t maintained throughout anyway.

The three stories are sequenced in declining quality – “The Hard Goodbye” is far and away the best of the three. Mickey Rourke is amazing as Marv and it has the most energy, action and humour. “The Big Fat Kill” is pretty good though without the backstory of “A Dame To Kill For”, the relationship between Clive Owen’s Dwight and Rosario Dawson’s Gail looks hokier than it is. You also don’t appreciate the full menace of Michael Clarke Duncan’s Manute. Ending with “That Yellow Bastard” makes the most sense, seeing as how it’s got the most star power with Bruce Willis and Jessica Alba, but it doesn’t quite click. Maybe it’s due to audience exhaustion from the first two segments or maybe it’s just not that strong, but the pacing seemed rushed and Willis’ Hartigan just didn’t connect for me. He seemed too much like Bruce Willis.

I just read most of the Sin City comics last weekend so I didn’t necessarily need to follow the narrative to know what was going to happen next, I could just sit back and enjoy the execution and finished product. And enjoy it I did – some of the violence did make me cringe, but that was really the point. Hard boiled, man. Hard boiled.

For more Sin City, check out the last couple posts over at Achtung Baby. The plans for the DVD release are particularly interesting.

More comics to film – Empire gets an exclusive guided tour of the pre-production of Watchmen, courtesy of director Paul Greengrass. Still no hints on casting, though.

Being There eulogizes The Jayhawks, prompting Gary Louris to pipe up, “we’re not dead yet!”, not that anyone is listening.

The Chicago Tribune has an interesting piece on the growing influence of online music sites like Pitchfork and Fluxblog. Via Largehearted Boy.

So my little MySpace recruiting drive yesterday was quite successful, thank you, though I apologize that I really have no idea who most of you people are. But that’s okay. I will also admit that it was sort of a little demographics experiment on my part – I was wondering who was actually reading my site. Answer? Dudes. Lots of dudes. Many with bands. That’s okay, I guess, but geez. Sausage fest. It’s like university all over again.

“Spring forward” my ass.

np – Mojave 3 / Excuses For Travelers

By : Frank Yang at 11:01 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. mao says:

    Sin City is the best comic book movie yet…I was totally blown away.

    Also, was anyone else at the Bloc Party/Ponys show at the Opera House last night?

  2. David says:

    I saw them the night before in Detroit, very satisfying the both of them. Bloc Party played a brand new song in their encore, it sounded much like the other stuff on the album, but the Detroit crowd seemed quite perplexed by it. Golden Dogs also opened, and having not really heard much of them before I enjoyed the 2-3 songs I got a chance to hear. BP said they’d be back in Detroit in May, so I’d guess the chances of another Toronto show in the near future are quite likely as well.

  3. Hartigan says:

    I think the epilogue was made just for the film and not in any of the comics.

    Pitchfork is such garbage it is truly sad to see an article on it.

  4. pickle stick says:

    yeah, but you probably still read it every day.

  5. Nav says:

    If you’ve finished the McSweeney’s collection, which was your favourite story? I bought it when it first came out, but I’ve still only read Nick Hornby’s.

  6. claire says:

    i’m not a boy, i’m not in a band, and i think the site is fantastic.

  7. Rachel says:

    I’m not a boy, not in a band, and I think Frank and his many sites are fantastic. He’s also a great musician. And he needs a new picture. He’s MUCH cuter than that one leads one to believe.

  8. Frank says:

    It’s true, I am. I also have small vestigal wings on my ankles.

    Nav – honestly, I haven’t really liked the McSweeney’s. None of the stories have had much spirit, they’re just sort of… there. I did like Dave Eggers’. It’s not really about anything, but it is quite engaging. The Chris Offutt story about ghosts is also excellent, come to think of it, but that’s about it for standouts. I’ve only got a couple left before I’m done, then it’s back to the library with it.

  9. MNM says:

    The satiric take on violence reminded me of Kill Bill 1 & 2. Didn’t know that Quentin Tarintino guest-directed. His influence shows. If you don’t know anything about the comics it is pretty easy to follow. Oh yes, and all of the women in this movie are gorgeous. My only complaint is Britney Murphy. She can’t act.

  10. Brian says:

    Enough with "sausage fest."

    It’s the Don’t Go There of 2005.