Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Failure of the Day: The Citizen Kane of Torture Porn

It took me 15 hours to come up with that headline, so someone beat me to the blog review punch. It’s only fair I suppose, since he’s been a fan of the comic book for so long that he immediately recognized the frame by frame mise-en-scéne parallels, and long enough for me to finally understand why the Death Row Marv action figure, long of our living room, who giggles and coughs epithets as he is electrocuted, is so charming.

Sin City is mind-bogglingly great; easily the best comic book adaptation I’ve ever seen, easily. I sat in the theatre praying that George Lucas and Kevin Smith brought steno pads to their viewings and had taken detailed notes on the proper way to write stylized dialogue. And if Brittany Murphy’s lines fell out of her mouth like thumbtacks (and they did), the fault was not the writer’s. She is the only clunker in this otherwise stunning film.

Now, to be fair, I am a violence wuss of a sort. I can watch shootings and stabbings and people getting blown to smithereens without blinking an eye; it’s not that. There are several beheadings and other dismemberment scenes that gave me not one moment’s pause. A guy getting the top of his skull sliced clean off by a samurai sword? No problemo. But you know what I can’t stomach at all? Punching. The wet crunch of a fist and a face. And there is plenty of that to be had here too, plenty. I watched a fair bit of the Bruce Willis vignette through the stripes of my fingers.

But my god, even that was gorgeous. I knew about the black and white with only a bit of color here and there, and I fully expected that to be cheesey and over-wrought. It wasn’t. Instead it made the whole enterprise tolerable, the thing that prevented the theatre from becoming a popcorn and gummi bear vomitorium. And that’s the thing: you go in just like every movie, with your disbelief dangling from a string, happily suspended. And the film toys with it, your disbelief, swatting it like a cat by showing you things that must be disbelieved to be endured. Where other movies make you work to keep your disbelief suspended, Sin City makes you beg for disbelief, and you’re grateful for it, for white blood and yellow monsters and impossible shadows. If you believed in this even a little, it would be unbearable.

And OK, it’s a little long and a little repetitious. Whatever. It’s also glorious and horrifying and righteous. And it made Chris say “It is a negative-space of saturated bliss” and he never talks like that. I mean NEVER. He gives me the stink eye when I talk like that, and it made him say that. That’s some powerful mojo. No kidding: go see it.


Post a Comment

<< Home