Saturday, February 11, 2006

Silliness is a Warm Gun...

As I type this, I'm watching Sin City on Starz-HD (never did see it in the theater, 'cuz I'm a high-def snob... I prefer the superior picture and sound I get at home to the second-rate experience of the multiplex). I've made several discoveries:
(1) Dialogue that reads just great on the comic book page sounds embarrassingly hokey when delivered by an actor on the screen (reinforcing the inherent problem with most film noir dialogue);
(2) Artistic attempts to convey blood as pure white on the screen instead gives the impression that there are large flocks of birds pooping on people after they've been injured;
(3) The tougher you are, the more likely you are to bounce around like a Looney Tunes character when you get hit by a car, slammed in the head with a hammer, etc.;
(4) Clich├ęd noir bad guys end up sounding a lot like Three Stooges characters;
(5) Mickey Rourke playing the Frankenstein Monster seems absurdly out of place place in a noir film; and
(5) Some films can be improved tremendously with judicious use of the "mute" button.

Visually, Sin City was a fascinating film. I'm not sure that it was a good film, because in its slavish efforts to bring the printed page to the screen, it sacrificed some of film's visual strength. And ultimately, it's not a panel-to-film transformation because the film still has the full gray tonal scale that Miller's graphic novel doesn't have; thus, things that work acceptably on the stark black-and-white page (such as the aforementioned white areas for blood) look strangely out-of-place on the screen, where the white not only contrasts with the black, but also seems jarringly artificial when juxtaposed against the gray tonalities of the scene.

Apparently I'm one of the few who wasn't wowed by the film. I think I prefer my noir crime dramas on the printed page, where the artificiality and starkness can be justified as literary style. Even though I saw the film as incredibly flawed and overdone, there were still moments that I thought were very effective. Ultimately, it's a movie worth watching; the experiment deserves attention, even if it doesn't deserve praise.

1 comment:

Doug said...

Mr. B - I agree that Rodriguez presented Miller's dialogue way too literally, but otherwise, I thought it was fairly adventurous to see such a non-linear comic-based movie do well.

I think the visuals interpret Miller's art in ways that keep the average viewer involved, while appealing to those of us who appreciate the source. Darren loved the mood and presentation of the flick, having no prior knowledge of the graphic novels.