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splashes of red

I was awake at frelling 7 a.m. this morning, tumbling out of some nightmare, leaving some place where something will go forever unfinished because I woke up. This is night five or six of lousy sleep and the Special Bad Dreams. I'm waiting for the Ambien to build up again. At least then, I won't remember the dreams.

Did I write yesterday? No. I did not. My mind was too distracted, my mood too black, so Spooky took me to Fernbank to see the dinosaurs and the frogs, and that helped a great deal. It also helped that the rain we were promised didn't come (until last night). The dinosaurs make things better, help me get back into myself. We walked around spotting fossils in the Jurassic-age Solnhofen tiles that make up the museum's floor: bryozoans, sponges, bivalves, the "pens" of belemnites, ammonites.

Afterwards, we took in a matinee of Sin City. The film left me with mixed feelings. It is, visually, a wondrous thing. There's not much denying that. I was especially impressed that white blood is somehow more disturbing than red blood. It was like bodies were gushing semen or something equally vile. The Mickey Rourke character, Marv, was brilliant and easily stole the show. Likewise, Elijah Wood's cannibal serial-killer was a nice touch. Indeed, I'm quite certain it would have been a much better film if Miller and Rodriguez had settled on this single narrative thread, instead of attempting the complex Pulp-Fictionesque narrative web (which I'm not sure they pulled off). Marv felt like the film's soul, and when he was gone, my interest quickly began to wane. The Dwight/Gail/Jackie Boy/War of the Whores story was almost as engaging (and hey, anything that mixes dinosaurs, tarpits, rougue IRA, and Benicio Del Toro as an undead Pez dispenser is undoubtedly some sort of cool). But by the time we got back around to the Hartigan/Nancy story, the film had lost me, though I was amused by the "yellow bastard" (even though he looked like a jaundiced Ferengi). All in all, I honestly think this movie should have stuck to a single storyline, Marv's. It would have been a better, more solid film. Also, I wish it had worked harder to be genuine noir, a genre I'm very familiar with, rather than a noir pastiche. So, yes, Sin City is a good film, to be sure, but I don't believe that it's a great film, by any means. Certainly, it's not Robert Rodriguez's best film — that's still Once Upon a Time in Mexico. And it could easily have survived losing about half an hour somewhere along the way.

And once more, a film has left me asking why the hell so many genre/comics readers have trouble finding my characters "sympathetic," yet have no problem at all with far more unpleasant people, so long as they are presented in film. There's something important in this contradiction, but my mind is presently to sleep deprived to get at it properly.

Okay. I've got to find some way to wake up. There's not enough coffee and Red Bull in whole frelling world. I'll probably work on the Marvel thing today, if I can achieve consciousness. Poor Chapter Four. Anyway, I'll leave you with a photo I snapped at Fernbank yesterday, looking down on the Giganotosaurus stalking across the Great Atrium:

Comments

( 14 comments — Have your say! )
z0mb1e
Apr. 13th, 2005 03:09 pm (UTC)
I think the point of the film was to make it like a comic book - which is made up of multiple narratives. It's also hard to enjoy it as much as someone who has read Sin City, because the film matches the comics image for image, as well as dialogue. Though I do agree that Marv was the most successful as a character.

I think the reason people don't find your characters as sympathetic as, say, Dwight, is because they don't have to read a damn thing to understand him. Half of the more "mainstream" people I have spoken to who saw Sin City probably don't know 3/4 of the vocabulary you use.

And Giganotosaurus is awesome. I don't think I've ever seen one in a museum before.
emrecom
Apr. 13th, 2005 04:19 pm (UTC)
I think it's because in US film, extreme violence and assorted other bad behavior is aethticized and seperated from emotional and ethical involvment, to say nothing of consequences. It's literally made pretty.

The written word offers unadorned truth--there's no slo-mo, saturated color facade.
sclerotic_rings
Apr. 13th, 2005 05:17 pm (UTC)
Whimper. The closest I've been to the Fernback is visiting the gift shop in the Atlanta airport while moving back to Dallas from Tallahassee (and having the clerk tell me she wanted to come to Texas to see Carl Baugh's "Creation Science Museum" in Glen Rose), but I picked up an armful of the Giganotosaurus/Argentinosaurus postcard. Thanks for an alternate view.
greygirlbeast
Apr. 13th, 2005 05:20 pm (UTC)
and having the clerk tell me she wanted to come to Texas to see Carl Baugh's "Creation Science Museum" in Glen Rose

Urk!

Thanks for an alternate view.

You're welcome.
sclerotic_rings
Apr. 13th, 2005 09:37 pm (UTC)
Think how I felt. Even if I were sympathetic to creationists, I wouldn't recommend Baugh's little fundamentalist tourist trap, seeing as how he still has the same pile of junk collected out front as he did when I first visited Glen Rose in 1980. (My wife and I head to Glen Rose for a major fossil meet every autumn, and we enjoy the scenery at Dinosaur Valley State Park, so we have no choice but to go by the Creation Science Museum coming and going.) I didn't give her the tirade of how a creationist working for the Fernbank was like hiring Jeffrey Dahmer to run a vegan restaurant, so I just told the truth: the Creation Science Museum is the cheesiest excuse for a tourist trap in Texas this side of South Fork.
tanthe
Apr. 13th, 2005 05:45 pm (UTC)
I was amused by the "yellow bastard" (even though he looked like a jaundiced Ferengi).

Hah! so I'm not the only person who watched it and thought he looked like a Ferengi.

Personally I'm a bit tired of hearing all the comments of how the movie is so sexist/misogynist etc. because the women aren't strong characters or are only strong with the help of the men. Which may be true to a degree, but whenever I see people make that complaint I just feel that they missed the point.

Though I did like the way how someone described her take on that: I felt like I was watching a story about men, told by men who have been inspired and motivated by women -- but who don't really understand them at all. I didn't mind this in the least; if anything, it made the protagonists all the more believable.
lunablack
Apr. 13th, 2005 06:39 pm (UTC)
He did look like a Ferengi, indeed. I was amused to see "Rory Gilmore" as a whore...quite an image change. :)
coyote_man
Apr. 13th, 2005 07:39 pm (UTC)
Strangely enough, "That Yellow Bastard" was my favorite story in the comic series, but my least favorite on screen.
setsuled
Apr. 13th, 2005 08:13 pm (UTC)
Marv felt like the film's soul, and when he was gone, my interest quickly began to wane.

I felt the other two stories were attempts to retread the same idea from different angles, and Marv's was the most pure expression of the theme Miller was so interested in. I sort of feel the other two would have worked better if the Marv story had been put last, so the other two would have felt like spiralling down before nailing the centre. On the other hand, I wonder if repeated viewings might make me enjoy the other stories more. The second time I saw the movie, there was a guy behind me laughing artificially, and with a concerted effort to be audible, every time Marv hit someone, which was annoying. I was able to appreciate the other two stories a bit more that time, as the guy didn't laugh much during those, except when the women got hit. Such a charming man.

But by the time we got back around to the Hartigan/Nancy story, the film had lost me,

I felt that was the weakest story, too. I think the main problem with that one was that I never had a sense of Nancy's grave imperilment. The whole thing hinges on her being in deep shit, because Hartigan's drive to not frell up is supposed to be the pulse. But after you've seen Lucille naked in Kevin's basement with her hand cut off, somehow inexpressive Jessica Alba being whipped in an indestructible slip isn't so effective. I don't buy that that's the worst the Yellow Bastard would do, certainly not after the movie's demonstrated it could go further.

Also, I wish it had worked harder to be genuine noir, a genre I'm very familiar with,

That would have been nice, but I was just happy to see it in play again. Particularly having in mind your words about a general lessened respect for style in prose.
greygirlbeast
Apr. 13th, 2005 08:24 pm (UTC)
But after you've seen Lucille naked in Kevin's basement with her hand cut off, somehow inexpressive Jessica Alba being whipped in an indestructible slip isn't so effective.

Bingo. I mean, I felt that, when we saw the stump. There was horror there. In the whipping scene, I a) wasn't convinced that she could have taken it and b) as you say, found it hard to believe that he would have started with something so mundane.

I felt that was the weakest story, too. I think the main problem with that one was that I never had a sense of Nancy's grave imperilment.

And when it was all over, why are we to believe that Hartigan's death will really save her? As far as I could see, Senator Roark was certainly a spiteful enough bastard that he'd come after her just out of revenge, Hartigan or no Hartigan. Why wouldn't he? She's still responsible for his son's death, the end of "his legacy."
setsuled
Apr. 14th, 2005 01:35 am (UTC)
And when it was all over, why are we to believe that Hartigan's death will really save her?

That was some pretty fuzzy logic. I guess it was more important to Miller that there be a big dramatic reversal so he could finish it quickly. Which was too bad--the Marv story felt more like things were going to their logical conclusions.
coyote_man
Apr. 13th, 2005 08:40 pm (UTC)
There was something undetectable in the movie that I felt was made very apparent in the written work. I don't believe that we're supposed to buy into the idea that Hartigan's death will solve Nancy's problems. Rather, I think Miller was trying to show the reader the true hopelessness of the situation, that even a character as strong as Hartigan's could be broken down by the corruption of the world he lives in...
greygirlbeast
Apr. 13th, 2005 09:06 pm (UTC)
I don't believe that we're supposed to buy into the idea that Hartigan's death will solve Nancy's problems. Rather, I think Miller was trying to show the reader the true hopelessness of the situation, that even a character as strong as Hartigan's could be broken down by the corruption of the world he lives in...

And see, I think this is much truer to noir, Hartigan's death following from utter despair, not an heroic act to save Nancy. But if that was the intention of the directors, it was not the least bit clear. Indeed, the film clearly stated the opposite. He killed himself, traded himself for Nancy. And I can even see that this was some concession to Hollywood, that somewhere in the film there has to be a genuine hero because that's what sells tickets, blah, blah, blah.
coyote_man
Apr. 13th, 2005 09:21 pm (UTC)
Agreed. Which is why people seldom find a cinematic rendering more entertaining than its written counterpart. Hartigan gives the same reasons in the graphic novel for his suicide, but there is definitely an underlying ominous tone that the movie lacked to say, "It won't end here. He might believe it will, but we know better."

Never have I seen a film so faithful to its origins in written word. But I also think that was Sin City's downfall. I think what was truly lacking in the movie was Miller's voice. It was Miller's writing, Miller's vision, but his voice was gone.
( 14 comments — Have your say! )

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