Most of the time, you can trust that any feeling you are left with after watching a movie is a telling factor on how much you liked or disliked it. Has nothing to do with whether you like or dislike the feeling itself, because these days, bad feelings are better than no feelings at all. Even the radio attests to the same, with talk of stupid love songs, bleeding just to know you're alive, tearing your heart open and sewing yourself shut.
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But there is one feeling that I never realized how much I missed until I felt it today, for no less than a half hour after stepping on the proverbial two-hour land mine that is Sin City. It's that feeling like you're on another planet, like everything you conditioned yourself NOT to believe came pouring out to present itself as reality. And you either clammed up at the thought, or got the most practice you have in years at sewing it shut, just as you have all your life. Well, just as I have anyway. Is it any wonder that only a movie like this could help me to realize that apparently, I'm not the only one.
Okay, a long time ago I heard this line from Rush's Counterparts album, two tiny little words. But they have stuck with me for all of 9 years and counting, and they are...
The thing that's feeding ignorance is that we get desensitized to things like violence, degradation and a million other little evils. We see it, hear about it so often that we barricade ourselves from it to avoid getting hurt by our own withering empathy. And what is the solution, more violence? "NO" would be the obvious answer, but it just might not be the right one. 'Cause you see, no matter how desensitized you may be to something, there will still always, always be a point at which it will still get to you, if it becomes intense enough. I suspect that the nerve-racking carnage of Sin City is well beyond that point for most people out there.
Watching Sin City will remind you that you still can be disturbed by something. It will remind you that you're still alive.
Through an eclectic mixture of black, white and the sporadic chromatic schematic, Sin City draws you into a world of prostitute gangs, bloody faces, overwhelmed cops, gun barrels in foreheads, death by electrocution (which strangely enough, is also bloody as hell), ninja stars shaped like swastikas, and cars jumping like no tomorrow. Every time I try to picture this movie in my head now, my mind doesn't know whether to conjure a real image or an animated one. Such is the black magic of Sin City.
The cast list is nothing short of intimidating, ranging from heavy hitters like Michael Clarke Duncan (Hey, speaking of electrocution!) to little blonde bombshells like Brittany Murphy, who never ceases to remind you that you are watching a movie. Yeah, I meant that in the baddest of bad ways.
If you wanna see a bombshell, check out Alexis Bledel. You'll know her by the penetrating blue eyes. God, all I could think about at work today was getting off. In more ways than one. Jessica Alba is not too bad either, but I wish I had known beforehand that she wasn't Hilary Duff. The thought of actually complimenting Hilary on a job well done was nightmaric enough.
Benicio Del Toro sheds some of that huskiness (I don't know, he seemed a lot huskier in 21 Grams), along with about 20 years in the process. Mickey Rourke does a great Hellboy imitation and probably spends more than half his time with blood on his face. He also likes to shove people's faces into the toilet, which is about the funniest damn thing I've seen all year. Bruce Willis does his usual thing, pining over the Die Hard days. Josh Hartnett, credited as "The Man", has a ball and tries not to laugh in his own sinister role.
Story? Man, I'll tell you what, to even talk about story here seems utterly pointless. It's like when you talk to someone about Pulp Fiction. The last thing you want to tell them about is what happens, 'cause that isn't even the half of it. It's these kind of films that demonstrate just how much more there can be to it than a story. Here, you're constantly in the characters' minds, as they narrate their thoughts about even the most mundane things in life, as we all do. For all the talk they make about voice-overs being a screenwriting faux pas, they sure seem to work.
And yet, in some odd way, Sin City still manages to look like a diabolically twisted game of good versus evil in which, for a few magical moments, good wins. Something happens about 10 minutes before the end that is the single most disturbing thing in the entire movie, and all you want is to see that stool get a pounding like no other. Bruce Willis takes the honor of delivering said pounding, although I would not have minded in the least if that had gone on for 2 or 3 times as long. My heart, my bleeding sappy little heart actually wanted to see this rat bastard tortured beyond any Hell ever imagined. I should hate myself, and yet I don't.
Because it's an eye for an eye. And there is nothing more ridiculous in this world than that whole oh-so-popular notion of an "eye for an eye making the whole world go blind". You know what? Eye for an eye is a METAPHOR. It doesn't actually mean we take their eyes, for cryin' out loud. It means we give them what they dish out. Doesn't make us blind; in fact, it's quite the opposite. We want them to SEE how they make other people feel. Perhaps that is why the aforementioned rat bastard is so prominently yellow. Because he can dish out the violence, but he can't take it.
There is a recurring theme of "don't scream" lingering around. The eventual death of Elijah Wood's character is no doubt the most gruesome of them all, and even that one, you don't get to see it happen. You just see a bit of the aftermath and then a reversed silhouette just when it starts to get gooey again. Still, the sight of Elijah Wood kicking ^ss is a startling contrast to his previous excursions as Frodo, whose most threatening move was assuming that Sam ate the last of the bread.
But the thing is, after all he goes through, it is made clear that he didn't scream while it was happening. That's the sign of a villain who is clearly off his bloody tether, yet still it's fascinating and horrifying in its own way. To think that that kind of strength ever could exist. Or worse yet, what if it does?
Later, Nancy, a little girl whom Bruce Willis saved from molestation a long while back, refrains from screaming when things are looking pretty bad for her (this would be that disturbing moment 10 mins before the end I was talking about), and she makes a comment that if she were to scream, it would "get him off", and that's why she doesn't do it. But you know what's really scary? I sense a subtext there, suggesting that in the real world, it is actually the lack of a scream that gets them off. It is when she doesn't scream, when she holds all that pain inside, that's what really gets them off. I'd be a lucky guy to not know this kind of crap. But then, I guess that's the whole idea behind the movie. Bring out the worst in yourself, just to remind you you're not as pure as you might have assumed.
Sin City is not just a movie, it's a world. It is the world nobody wants to see. It is the world that ain't big enough for the both of us, so off you go. It's the world that doesn't even realize it is being acknowledged, 'cause it can't afford to go to the movies.
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