Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Year 8, Day 12 - 1/12/16 - Movie #2,212

BEFORE: Now, you can see where I was going with this.  There are very few films left on the list that I'm aching to see, this might qualify as one of them.  Really, at this point it's rarely about what I want to see, it's usually about getting a film out of the way and off of my list.

Josh Brolin carries over from "Inherent Vice", and this is also a gritty crime drama like that was, and it's also based on a comic book, like "Big Hero 6" was.  I've been building up to this one without even realizing it.

THE PLOT:  Some of Sin City's most hard-boiled citizens cross paths with a few of its more reviled inhabitants.

AFTER: Sometimes there's a fine line between playing around with the narrative form, like "Pulp Fiction" did, and creating an incoherent mess.  I'm prepared to give this film the benefit of the doubt, because it really flirts with that line.  A little research tells me that two of the films segments take place before the events seen in the first "Sin City" film, and the others take place after.  It really doesn't matter, although multiple viewings could lead to greater insight, like explaining where Marv got such a nice coat (he doesn't remember). 

You see, with a comic book, the time setting doesn't really matter all that much - once you open the cover, that story with Spider-Man is taking place "now", aka "story time", aka "stop worrying about it and read the damn book already".  If you want to, you can get all nitpicky and figure out that since Spider-Man is seen using his new impact webbing, and he's fighting the Lizard, who was captured by the Avengers in another story, and you can work out some kind of timeline that places this story before Captain Marvel issue 12 and after Avengers issue 4, but I guarantee that by doing that, you've already put more thought into it than the author of the story did.  Writers these days just want to tell a gripping story, and leave the details to the fans - the ones with plenty of time on their hands.  

This story is told in black and white (with some splashes of color) which echoes the color scheme of the Dark Horse Comics that it's based on.  But black and white isn't just a color scheme or an homage to the days of film noir, it represents a set of morals, of things being either right or wrong.  The situations here don't have a lot of gray to them, people are either inherently good or evil, even if they're caught up in their stereotypes, like the sensitive brute or the stripper with the heart of gold.  There's no question who we're rooting for, and also against, to come out on top.

The problem is, people in Sin City (hmm, it's really named "Basin City", with many of the highway signs having their first two letters blacked out, who knew?) rarely come out on top, unless they were there to begin with.  The people who hold all the power sure don't want to give it up, while the little guys are just scrambling to get ahead, or at least not fall any further behind.  And nearly everyone comes to an untimely end, because everyone either has it coming, or goes up against someone willing to give it to them.  And that ultimately makes the stories here feel rather hopeless, but hey, as F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "Show me a hero, and I'll write you a tragedy." 

One of the segments, "The Long Bad Night", was written specifically for this film, and it concerns a young man with incredible luck - he wins on every pull of a slot machine, every hand of cards.  You might think that's a blessing, but instead it turns out to be a curse.  (So...why not just play the slots a few times, and then walk away?)  Definitely something to think about as you're buying your PowerBall tickets tonight.  Do you REALLY want to win the PowerBall?  I mean, sure, it's 1.3 billion dollars, but if you take it as a lump sum, after they take out the taxes, it's really only like $280 million, right?  Geez, it hardly seems worth it.  Do you really want all of the headaches that come with that kind of cash?

So, Josh Brolin is the new Clive Owen, and Dennis Haysbert is the new Michael Clarke Duncan?  Yeah, I guess I'm OK with that.

Also starring Mickey Rourke (last seen in "Masked and Anonymous"), Jessica Alba (last seen in "Never Been Kissed"), Bruce Willis (last seen in "Nobody's Fool"), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (last seen in "The Interview"), Rosario Dawson (last seen in "Trance"), Eva Green (last seen in "300: Rise of an Empire"), Powers Boothe (last seen in "The Goodbye Girl"), Ray Liotta (last seen in "Muppets Most Wanted"), Dennis Haysbert (last seen in "Jarhead"), Christopher Meloni (last seen in "42"), Jeremy Piven (last seen in "Two for the Money"), Jaime King (ditto), Juno Temple, Christopher Lloyd (last seen in "A Million Ways to Die in the West"), Jamie Chung (last heard in "Big Hero 6"), Marton Csokas (last seen in "Noah"), Julia Garner, with cameos from Stacy Keach (last heard in "Planes: Fire & Rescue"), Lady Gaga, Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez.  

RATING: 6 out of 10 crossbow bolts

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