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April 03, 2005

Sin City: The Darkest Noir

'Sin City' is porno. The good kind. I'd tell you more about it but I fell asleep.

Part of the reason was because I couldn't stand waiting in line for the 9:30 show. I hate crowds, and I especially hate crowds of bored youth wringing their hands in anticipation of a deluxe helping of noir blood and guts. So I went to the 10:30 show, and around midnight, I was snoring in the 8th row. Part of the reason was that Sin City is long and it completely lost momentum about 2/3rds of the way through. Imagine a dark city street with 6 deadly hookers in fishnet stockings and only one of them is talking. Exactly.

Sin City is drop dead gorgeous. It is better looking than 'Dark City', better looking than 'Mulholland Drive', and better looking than 'Devil in a Blue Dress' and 'LA Confidential' put together. Only it's about half as smart as any of them. If it weren't for the colors, nobody in their right mind would watch 'Sin City'. It's too violent to even think about. Its metaphors are apt, it's sex with the perfect woman, who turns out to be a whore to the core. It's jumping out of a three story tenement house, landing in a pile of garbage and then slamming, boot-first through the windshield of a police cruiser.

I was hoping for a lot more sex in this movie, but instead I got a whole lot more violence than I expected. There was one completely throwaway character who kept calling her mother and wasting time on the screen. I have no idea what she was all about, then again maybe I slept through that part.

I cannot determine whether it will be worth my while to see this film again. It's clearly the best Mickey Rourke flick since '9 1/2 Weeks', but it doesn't quite cut it as a Bruce Willis flick. Benecio Del Toro proves that he can even make a stock noir gritty character have character, and Clive Owen proves that he can't. Rutger Hauer has a brilliant cameo and Rosario Dawson does a bangup job being everything that every Prince girl, from Vanity to Apollonia, wishes she could've been. I'm so glad they didn't give that role to Halle Berry.

About the Yellow Bastard, I have no idea. But I can tell you that he gets hurt pretty bad, twice.

Basically, this is Mickey Rourke's movie. Once he leaves the screen, he leave a great void which is never quite replenished, or at least it wasn't for sleepy me. If you ask me, the whole flick could have been his stripped down narrative without any diversions. Rourke's Marv is an indestructable wrecking ball of a giant driven by the memory of the smell of his murdered blonde angel. He's a one man vintage 1990 Abu Ghraib careening through back alleys looking like the last man standing at Omaha Beach. Imagine the XMan Wolverine without self-consciousness or restraint out for slow methodical torturous revenge.

This is the hardest of hardboiled noir, and it gives us the appreciable shock value that ice box moms must have felt about the first Mickey Spillane. It's populated hot dames with nefarious brains, real hips and curled lips. It's so American that it sweats red dresses, whitewall tires and blue saxophones. It's as violent as the backstreets of hell, as seductive as Jezebel's jealous little sister and as corrupt as whoring bishop. This is sin, straight up and straight down, layered on thick and slavish. See it on a Saturday night, then pray for your soul on Sunday morning.

Josh Chafetz worries for the American soul. So do I, but I know that those of us with a stomach for this kind of porno are like the parasites in the belly of the nation which assist in the digestion of hard-assed molecules which would ordinarily rip a hole in our guts. Sure it's all shit, but we handle it, and that's part of our function. This is the intestine of America, not its brains. This is the muscular viscera of our nation, built on the struggle and strife of people too uncivilized and grungy to rise in the bourgie ranks of Old Europe. Everybody doesn't like it like that, but Sin City is the art that describes it.

I guess I've decided that I'm going to give it another shot, in the middle of the day. I may come to regret looking into the face of it. But I hope it is the sign of things to come from Frank Miller, because I've had about as much Spiderman as a grown American man can stand.

Posted by mbowen at April 3, 2005 09:11 AM

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