Every day Robert Saucedo shines a spotlight on a movie either so bad it’s good or just downright terrible. Today: Five years living in Sin.
It’s been five years since Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller and Quentin Tarantino dropped Sin City on audiences’ laps and the film’s legacy is apparent everywhere you look — from green-screen heavy films such as 300 to Mickey Rourke’s career resurgence.
When taken at face value, Sin City may seem nothing but a pubescent boy’s late night dream — full of babes, bullets and booze.
Militant call girls wield automatic weapons and swastika-shaped throwing stars as yellow skinned child molesters stalk the seedy underbelly of Basin City. Decapitations, disembowelments and dismemberments are commonplace occurrences in Frank Miller color-deprived world. Despite the depraved plot twists waiting around every darkened alley, something exists in Sin City that screams bloody poetry.
When describing its coolness factor, it’s easy to bring up the meticulously executed visuals. With the stark black-and-white coloring and the occasional splotch of vibrant primaries, Sin City is certainly a stroke of retrograde noir genius. But, it isn’t just the use of visual tones and set dressing that separates the film from its predecessors. There exists — buried in the gratuitously bloody monster that is the film — the heart of a soft-spoken poet.
Adapted from comic book artist Frank Miller’s series of crime infused comics, Sin City was born of the unholy alliance of Miller and director Robert Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, best known for his hyper-kinetic action sequences, helped Miller translate his stark, and often unsettling, artwork to the big screen. Using a system of panel-to-shot replications, the dynamic duo gave creative birth to a living breathing funny book that is anything but kid friendly.
In The Long Goodbye, audiences were introduced to Marv (Mickey Rourke), a scar-faced, nigh-unstoppable bruiser.
After waking up with the dead body of a one-night stand nuzzling against him, Marv embarks on a path toward revenge-driven redemption. As the brutish bulldozer carves a bloody path toward the identity of his lover’s killer, he ponders his own sanity.
In The Big Fat Kill, Clive Owen played Dwight, a Converse-sporting ex-con sent on a mission to dispose of the body of a corrupt policeman. After a drunken slime bag of a cop (Benicio Del Toro) winds up on the receiving end of the red light district’s vengeance, Dwight must hide the resulting body before the delicate truce between the police and prostitutes is torn asunder.
The violence is extreme and the ladies sexy, as characters become entwined in escalating events. While Miller’s characters dress like there is a clothing famine, the females in Sin City exert a strong domineering power that the Spice Girls could only hope to channel.
Instead of quivering beneath the gloved hand of a pimp, these ladies of the night rule their own lives and are not above carving up a couple of rough-housing party seekers.
This segment also featured a scene guest-directed by Quentin Tarantino.
That Yellow Bastard stared Bruce Willis as a soon-to-be retired cop who saved a young girl named Nancy from the child-molesting son of a U.S. senator. Thanks to the wounded pedophile’s father, Hartigan (Willis) is locked in jail and left to rot. The knowledge that the girl’s innocence was preserved is the only thing that keeps Hartigan alive as his name is dragged through the mud and he loses everything he once held dear. When he learns that the girl, who has grown into the curvaceous Jessica Alba, may be in danger, he stops at nothing to put a final end to the yellow bastard who threatens her.
The nuanced subtleties that exist in Sin City were never more evident than in the brilliant acting job delivered by Willis.
When Hartigan discovers that Nancy has grown into Sin City’s top exotic dancer, his soul is torn. Even though he managed to save Nancy’s virtue from the clutches of the senator’s son, her brief flirtation with the sin has forever tainted her soul. No longer is Nancy the pure child he saved all those years ago; she has become a reflection of the city in which she dwells. Drawn together by their lost lives, Nancy and Hartigan become connected in a way that is a little touching and a little creepy.
Sin City is a stunning piece of cinema that masqueraded its subtle morality tales beneath an ironically colorful collection of killer characters and killer visuals.
If you took the time to look beyond the cries of gratuitous violence and overtly underdressed women, you may just have found a reflection of mankind’s own dark soul and the shinning humanity that exits underneath.
Shortly after the film was released, talk immediately began about a sequel — which has yet to actually go further then just talk. I seem to recall the Weinstein brothers also throwing around discussions about a possible television show spin-off. I wonder if a script was ever written for the TV show or if the talks were just that — talk.
Last year Sin City was released on Blu-ray and it looks absolutely stunning. The computer-generated graphics and a pristine print have convinced me to adopt Sin City as my official go-to disc whenever I wish to show off my home theater system. If you haven’t already, upgrade your DVD copy ASAP. Your eyeballs (and ears) will thank you.
Robert Saucedo remembers reading the Sin City comic books during school and having to hide the artwork from his teachers’ prying eyes. Follow him on Twitter @robsaucedo2500.
Robert Saucedo is an avid movie watcher with seriously poor sleeping habits. The Mikey from Life cereal of film fans, Robert will watch just about anything — good, bad or ugly. He has written about film for newspapers, radio and online for the last 10 years. This has taken a toll on his sanity — of that you can be sure. Follow him on Twitter at @robsaucedo2500.