Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Sin City

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly viewing and blogging about one of the many movies I own.  This time out, we look at the mid-2000s classic Sin City.  This is in my notes at April 29, 2017.

I finally got the much-talked-about-getting third IKEA bookshelf to hold all my movies.  New bookshelves always make me rethink my organization system, so I've spent the past few days shuffling things around.  The fun thing is finding a movie and going, "Ooo!  I haven't watched this in a while!  I should watch this."  And that's how I tossed Sin City into the Blu-Ray player. 

Sin City was considered groundbreaking when it hit theatres in the spring of 2005.  Using the latest in digital film techniques, here was a film that managed to perfectly capture not just the tone of a comic book, but it's look as well.  It's highly distinct art style.  And it was a bold choice that really paid off.

Sin City is comic book legend Frank Miller's collection of crime stories, updating film noir and pulp fiction conventions, and filtered through Frank Miller's own unique art style and comic book voice.  It caught the eye of famed indie director Robert Rodriguez, who decided to attempt a film adaptation.  Now, Miller was reluctant to sell the movie rights to his books, after his screenplay for RoboCop 2 was heavily rewritten by studio suits.  As the legend goes, Rodriguez at least convinced him to do a proof-of-concept film based on the Sin City short story The Customer is Always Right.  Rodriguez allegedly told Miller, "If you like, it'll be the film's opening segment.  If you don't, we'll have a fun little short film we can show at parties."  Miller loved it, they made the film, and the rest is history. 

In addition to the aforementioned The Customer is Always Right, the film is episodic as it adapts three of Miller's Sin City stories.  The first one is the first part of That Yellow Bastard.  We have our cop Hartigan, played by Bruce Willis.  It's his last day on the force, and he's desperate to solve his last case:  bringing a notorious child molester, who happens to be the son of a prominent senator.  Hartigan manages to save the little girl, Nancy.  He manages to dish out some justice on the molester, but before he can deliver the final blow, he's shot in the back by his corrupt partner.  As Hartigan lays down to die, and sees Nancy getting away, he reserves himself to his fate.

The next story was the first Sin City tale, The Hard Goodbye, following the adventures of the near-superhuman thug Marv.  Marv wakes up one morning next to a dead hooker named Goldie and begins going on a rampage to try to find her killer and avenge her.  Marv was played by Mickey Rourke, and this was a bit of a comeback for him, after being out of the movies for quite some time.  This is pure, classic, comic book action the way Marv can leap off rooftops with nary a scratch.  Although, you've got to admit that Marv's final fate is a wonderfully black comic moment.  And Elijah Wood is good, too, as the silently creepy killer Kevin.  This was, like, the first thing he did after Lord of the Rings, and people were amazed by Wood's range. 

Next up is The Big Fat Kill.  When a guy named Dwight tries to do the right thing and get rid of his girlfriend's abusive ex, he inadvertently kicks off a mob war between the gang of prostitutes who run the city's prostitution, and another gang who wants to take over the racket.  Probably my favourite segment.  Rosario Dawson is always awesome, and she plays Gail, the leader of the prostitutes.  And then there's Miho, who's the prostitutes' chief enforcer.  Plus, there's a side trip to a tar pit with dinosaurs.  Sexy ladies and dinosaurs.  Who doesn't love that? 

And we wrap up with the second half of That Yellow Bastard.  Turns out Hartigan lived.  The corrupt senator -- and father of the child molester -- plans to keep Hartigan alive to use as a patsy.  Hartigan winds up spending 8 years in prison, ostracized from his friends and family for his alleged crimes.  The only one who keeps in touch is Nancy, who writes him every week using the alias "Cordelia" so they don't know it's her.  But then, one day, the letters stop coming.  Eventually, he gets one containing the severed finger of a young woman.  They found her.  Hartigan cuts a deal so he can get out of prison and go save Nancy.  He finds that Nancy has grown up to be a stripper, working her way though law school.  Hartigan quickly figures out that this was ploy to flush out Nancy so they can finish what they started 8 years ago.  He and Nancy are pursued by a mysterious man with neon yellow skin, eventually revealed to be the child molester.  The yellow skin was a side effect of the reconstructive surgery.  Eventually, Hartigan finishes the job and Nancy is safe...but at the price of Hartigan's life. 

This is still just a really cool movie.  Everything about it just oozes cool.  Kinda helps that Rodriguez was still at the top of his game, and Frank Miller hadn't gone completely off the rails yet.  Haven't seen the second one yet, A Dame to Kill For.  I see it's not on Netflix anymore, so I may have missed my window, and I'm OK with that.  When I first started seeing the commercials for the second film, I had no interest in it.  I just thought, "This film is about 8 years too late."  I'll probably see it eventually, but something tells me there was just no recapturing what made the original film so unique. 

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