Sin City - Cinema for the Dateless
| I really wanted to like Robert Rodriguez's film of Frank Miller's Sin City. There is so much to appreciate in this little experiment that I wanted it to be good enough to deserve my adulation. There were times I was even willing to ignore the glaring insults the film was hurling at its audience so that I could bask in the ultracooleness of the spectacle. But, as the credits began to role, I knew that Sin City was a big let down and there was just no denying it.
Sin City is a tribute to pulp fiction and film noir styles based on the graphic novel from comic legend Frank Miller. To achieve a world that is a living breathing comic book, the film makers create gritty, black and white digital environments and play fast and free with the laws of physics and biology. The cast is a film lover's cornucopia of A list actors and B list actresses, and the script is filled with cleaver one liners ripped right from the hard boiled source material. All of this should be amazing set up for a film that could really take us into the next era of movie making… if only the story was worth it.
For me, story is everything. I don't care how great the film is in every other sense, if the story doesn't capture me then the film is a loser. Film making is storytelling. Sin City comes close with its tightly woven narratives, rich mythology and archetypal characters. However, Sin City's true sin is how its web of stories hinges on the most pathetic and cheap conceits possible.
Each one of the intermingled story lines hangs on backwards, out of step, heterosexist and misogynist ideas of the roles of men and women. The film blatantly insists that men are either protectors or exploiters of women, often both simultaneously, and that women's role is to be dominated and gratefully offer up sex as a payment for this domination. The female characters are so pathetically drawn that one imagines that the writers have never even spoken to a woman let alone ever seen one who didn't have a staple through her belly.
Sin City tells the kinds of stories that angry guys tell each other so they don't feel so bad about being turned down by the objects of their affection. These are the kinds of stories that only men with very little experience with women can concoct.
Sure one could say that by using these conceits the film makers are remaining true to their pulp fiction/film noir roots but this is just a lazy excuse. Kill Bill, Sky Captain and Hero are all great examples of genre filmmaking which take old conceits and remake them for modern audiences who are too smart to see women as such objects. But that's not Sin City's path. The film is simply regressive which nullifies any of the progress created in the technique. This is truly too bad as the film provided so much promise and was so smartly made in every way despite the story.
I guess I shouldn't be that surprised. Rodriguez is the man who made such gems as the prematurely ejaculating From Dusk 'Til Dawn and the not so scary horror retread The Faculty. This man's idea of creative film making is crazy camera angels as demonstrated in El Mariachi trilogy. I guess I couldn't have expected more from the man whose highest grossing films are the Spy Kids movies.
I would recommend that the film makers need to speak to actual women so they can move past these lame adolescent views but that might be easier said than done especially because of the fantasies proposed by this piece of outdated trash.