Tuesday, July 8, 2014

SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #10: Sin City (2005)


Running Time: 124 minutes
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller, Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Frank Miller, based on his graphic novels
Main Cast: Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba
Click here to view the trailer

WHAT IS A "SIN OF OMISSION"?
As noted many times in the recent past here at the "1001 Movies I (Apparently) Must See Before I Die" blog, in the next 12 - 18 months the ultimate goal of this blog will transform from 'one man's journey to watch all 1001 movies in the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book' to 'one man's journey to create his own, personal canon of 1,000 favorite films and show "those 1001 people" just how it's done! Sins of Omission will become a regular feature on the blog where I'll take one film that WAS NOT included in any incarnation of the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book and DOES NOT appear on the next list of 1000 films that I plan to tackle, give it a formal review and make it a permanent part of my list, which is entitled: 1000 Films You REALLY Should See Before You Die: A Personal, Ongoing Canon of My 1,000 Favorite FIlms.

COMICS COME TO LIFE

As I get back into the swing of things here on the blog, I don't expect to bang out more than one or two reviews per week - maybe three on a good week. My days off each week are Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so those are the prime times you're going to see me coming at 'ya. Through the week, I don't get the chance to watch movies until my wife hits the hay and by then, I'm dog tired myself. Anyway, now you know.

I'm going to be writing a piece about Sin City and it's ties to film noir for an upcoming issue of The Dark Pages newsletter, so I took the opportunity to get reacquainted with the film and in doing so, decided to go whole hog and just include it as a SIN OF OMISSION. It's actually a very important film to me, more on that later. Read on...


The film is busted up into three parts, with each section telling a different story, which also happen to be based on graphic novels by co-director Frank Miller. We start out with "The Hard Goodbye", the main character of which is Marv (Rourke), a scarred up brute with super human strength and a penchant for beating people up. Marv spends the night with a hooker named Goldie and when he awakes in the morning, he finds her in his bead, without a pulse. Conveniently, the cops storm his apartment at that exact moment and Marv begins to realize he's being framed. He busts from the cops and goes on the hunt, wanting to avenge the death of a beautiful girl who treated him nice even though she didn't have to. His search leads him all the way to the upper hierarchy in Sin City and Cardinal Roark, a powerful man who's brother is the state senator. Next we meet Dwight (Owen), a sneaker wearing tough guy who's currently shacking up with the ex-girlfriend of a thug named Jackie Boy (Benicio Del Toro). When Jackie Boy makes his way into Old Town - a corner of Sin City where the prostitutes are in charge and police have no jurisdiction, per a deal between the two groups - he grabs hold of the wrong skirt and gets turned into a pez dispenser for his troubles. With Jackie Boy dead, Dwight picks his pockets to see who he is and finds that Jackie Boy is actually a cop, albeit a crooked one. Now, fearing that the deal between law enforcement and the girls may be off, now that they've offed an officer, Dwight helps the girls, including his ex-girlfriend Gail (Dawson) dispose of Jackie Boy's body. Finally, we're introduce to Detective John Hartigan (Willis), an aging detective with a flaring case of angina. Days from retirement he saves a little girl, Nancy Callahan, from a serial pedophile/killer and in the process takes away the killer's manhood. Later, Hartigan finds himself awaking in a hospital bed, being talked to by the killer's father, who just happens to be Senator Roark, who tells him that he plans to spend money out of his own pocket to ensure that Hartigan live a long life, even arranging surgery to cure his angina so that he can rot away in prison for disfiguring his son. Hartigan is framed and is sent to prison. In prison, he receives weekly letters from Nancy. The letters come for eight straight years and then one week, they stop. Then he gets an envelope with what appears to be Nancy's severed finger and he decides to play good con, appease the parole board and get released so that he can go look after her and make sure she's okay. Once released, Hartigan inadvertently leads Roark Junior - now a disfigured, yellow monster - right to Nancy's doorstep.


When I was a kid, a neighbor lady used to take me and my brother to the movies. We didn't have a decent movie theater in the town that we lived, so we'd hop into her car and she'd take us to the next closest town - about twenty miles north. She took us to a theater called Cinema World, which my brother and I would jokingly call Cinnamon World. It was kind of a dive theater, an independently owned little hole, but as kids we didn't know it was crappy and we loved it. It was there I got my earliest glances at cinema, seeing flicks like The Rescuers Down Under, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and No Holds Barred (the Hulk Hogan movie). We probably only saw a handful of movies there with the neighbor lady and after a while, that fad fizzled out and we stopped going. Flash forward to April 2005 and for some reason my brother and I found ourselves back at the God forsaken Cinnamon World, preparing to feast our eyes on Sin City, a movie we'd been anticipating for weeks, months.


A couple of months prior to this, perhaps having heard about the impending movie (I don't remember), I had asked to borrow my brother's copies of the Sin City graphic novels. My brother had always been a big comic geek and these were titles I'd recognized from his book shelf, when he still lived at home. He obliged me, of course, bringing them over one night and I read them up in probably a matter of days, loving every black & white panel. I can still remember seeing the trailer for the first time, having just finished the books and watching these characters breathe for the first time. Watching Clive Owen being called Dwight, a man I'd just read on the written page and Mickey Rourke as the scarred up, bandaged Marv. Oh, it was going to be a great movie and my brother and I made plans to go almost immediately. However, I don't remember the circumstances that had us landing back at the shitty theater, with stained floors and seats that had squeaky bolts. It didn't matter though, here was Marv, Dwight and Hartigan living and large on the big screen and I for one was mesmerized by the black & white, with splashes of color. It seemed as though every other frame deserved inclusion in MoMA and I was overdosing on quotable lines. It was pretty much, word for word the same lines that I'd read only a month prior, but to hear them spoken, accompanied by actor's with passion in their throats and a score behind them made them goosebump inducing.


Maybe it's just a personal thing, but that night at that little hole in the wall theater is a night I'll never forget because it was probably the most excited I'd been to see a movie on the big screen. I've stated many times before on the blog that I'm not a guy who goes out to the theater that often and can usually hold off to seeing movies on the small screen and in the comfort of my own home. For Sin City, waiting wasn't an option. I had a healthy obsession with Frank Miller for a long while after this, even reading some of his Daredevil work and of course, 300, but it was Sin City that always struck me as his most mesmerizing work and yet it was all so simple. Tales from a city where crime is second nature, where fast cars important and where dames will leave you with "to die for" feelings. A city that lurked and lived in the shadows, where the sun didn't shine and where smoke rings rose up to circle a pale moon that barely lit the dangerous alley ways, alley ways where you could find nearly anything - a kind hooker, a yellow bastard or a headless cop.

RATING: 8/10  I feel like that's a good note to end on, so I'll end on it. Great movie, one that will dazzle your eyeballs and hopefully leave you wanting to read the graphic novels, although I'd suggest doing that first.

July 8, 2014  10:59pm

4 comments:

  1. Great write up! I love this film. It's one of my favorites, not only as a comic book film, but one in general. It was so stylish.

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    1. Thanks Brittani. I agree, it was quite stylish! I really can't wait for the second one and hopefully I can drag myself out to see it in the theater.

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  2. I'd avoided this one for quite a while.. mostly because of it's supposed Tarantino ish reputation for being 'cool' (cool is pretty much always a turnoff for me).. But it kept cropping up in lists of Neo Noirs and other respected lists.. so i gave in and tried it.
    And guess what.. everything I expected it to be.. All flash and style and teenage sexual fantasy.
    Like Mell Brooks has to chuck in dumb blondes with big breasts? Wow, what a surprise to get a leather clad, hard talkin' sexy lesbian. That's original.
    Sorry folks.. but yawn.

    OK, sure it had style and some clever stuff.. but.. well you know what I mean by being too clever, too smart? Your just trying to be smart and cool...and..
    OK, enough. I didn't much like it, you all did.. sorry.. looks like I'm out of step..

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    1. It's ok Ray, no worries....

      If it helps though, I can tell you that the movie is pretty much shot for shot with the books. So it's not as if Rodriguez took liberties to make it extra cool & hip or was influenced by Hollywood to do so. You could literally get the books and follow along with the film, if you wanted to.

      But you didn't care for it, and that's okay...

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