Sunday, April 17, 2005

In Which I Take Time Out from Moving to Go to the Movies

So, I did go to see Sin City last night, and... wow. There are so many things about that movie that shouldn't have worked. For one thing, it plays up the noir cliches until it reaches the point where it's performing a tricky balancing act between straight storytelling and active self-parody. But, somehow, it deftly keeps its footing on that line the entire time. It's also filmed in a strange style: mostly black and white, but with strategic splashes of often very bright color. This ought to feel distracting, or pretentious, or like a blatant attempt to manipulate the viewer, but it's pulled off beautifully and the effect enhances the story no end. It's absolutely gorgeous to look at, too.

I can't really comment on how faithful it is to the original story. I think I did read the graphic novel version at some point, actually, as some of the stuff in the movie rang a faint bell, and I have a vague memory of someone lending me the book. But it was clearly long enough ago that I've completely forgotten all of the details. I will say that the movie looks and feels exactly like it was lifted from the pages of a graphic novel, animated by some magic, and projected up on the screen. This, also, is something that shouldn't work and does.

My one complaint is that it drags a little in the middle... The movie actually consists of several independent but interlocking stories, and it loses a great deal of momentum when one of them reaches its climax and the build-up to another replaces it. But that's a fairly minor complaint.

It's definitely not for everybody, though. For one thing, it's really not for the faint of heart. There's some extremely disturbing violence, including rather a lot of sexual violence (although most of the latter is discussed rather than shown), and some very, very dark humor. There's also a lot of female nudity and near-nudity, if that sort of thing bothers you, though, I have to say, it's so beautifully and artistically filmed that, even as a heterosexual woman, I was enjoying looking at it. And naked women usually bore me. (There are, sadly, no naked men, but I don't think I'd want to see most of those guys with their clothes off anyway.)

I haven't read much in the way of reviews of the movie yet, and I honestly have no idea what conventional audiences might make of it. I half-suspect most people are likely to be sitting there afterward with a stunned expression going, "What the hell was that?" But for people who enjoy that particular sort of dark, edgy comic, I can definitely recommend it. Of course, most of those people have probably already seen it, but, hey.

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