Sin City (1/10)

by Tony Medley

The 1970s British comedy group, Monty Python, had a lot in common with other comedy groups, like Second City and Saturday Night Live, in that most of their skits were silly and unfunny, but a few were so good they became classics. One of the ones that some people think of as a classic has John Cleese as a knight fighting people who chop his limbs off one by one but he keeps fighting. Unlike some people, I not only didn’t find it funny, I thought it bilious.

If you were one of those who found that skit funny, then you might like “Sin City,” Director Robert Rodriguez’s new descent into graphic violence without pain, masquerading as stylistic filmmaking. If you’re like me, you will squirm and look at your watch every few seconds for the entire two hour four minute running time.

Unlike some, I wasn’t blown away by Rodriguez’s stylism, which is vaguely derivative of Warren Beatty’s “Dick Tracy” (1990). Just because Rodriguez films scenes in black and white, adding a dash of color to his villains, like one who’s all in black and white except her light blue eyes, and another who is all yellow, doesn’t make this a wonderful film.

Rodriguez and his buddy in graphic violence, Quentin Tarantino, have to take responsibility for how the graphic, unemotional mayhem in their films desensitize the public to violent behavior. When impressionable people see these films, and play the video games that glorify violence in much the same way, bad things can result. I don’t think it’s a stretch that the upsetting story of the 13 year-old who recently killed a 15 year-old friend by hitting him first in the leg and then in the head with a baseball bat could have been influenced by violent video games and movies like those produced by Rodriguez and Tarantino.

I was told a back story of this film that is more interesting than the film itself. It seems that Rodriguez wanted to give Frank Miller, who wrote the script and upon whose comic books for DC Comics (“Daredevil,” “Ronin,” and some “Batman” stories) this thing is based, a credit as co-director. The Director’s Guild (DGA) apparently demurred, maybe because Miller probably didn’t do any directing and has never done any directing, or some silly reason like that. This so infuriated Rodriguez that he resigned from the DGA and gave Miller his credit, along with giving his buddy, Tarantino, a credit as “guest director” whatever that is.

The only good thing about this movie for me was the makeup that turned Mickey Rourke into an unrecognizable Marv, who is a superman looking for the guys who killed his one night stand girl friend, Roxie.

Oh, yeah, I shouldn’t fail to mention that the movie promotes more anti-Catholicism in that one of the villains is a Cardinal. That should win Rodriguez lots of plaudits with secular Hollywood. It’s never a rabbi or a mullah or a minister. No, it’s always a Catholic.

Because the story is a comic book there’s no reason to go into the plot here in much detail. Hartigan (Willis) is a cop in the corrupt, fictional Sin City. He saves a young girl from rape by Roark Jr. (Nick Stahl). Marv is looking for the killers of his prostitute. Then we meet Dwight (Clive Owen) who is a friend of all the bad girls who run part of Sin City. Just about everybody gets shot and worse but most end up none the worse for wear. People are horribly tortured but apparently suffer no pain for it. The characters all come together at the end after lots of bloody mayhem. Who cares? What a waste of time!


April 16, 2005