Thursday, December 18, 2008

Operation Screenshot (Films of the 2000s): Sin City (A Film Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller)

Sin City 1

Sin City 2

Sin City 3

Sin City 4

Sin City 5

Sin City 6

Sin City 7

Sin City 9

Sin City 10

Sin City 11


J.D. said...

Great pick, Jeremy. SIN CITY is easily THE most faithful comic book adaptation ever made, right down to replicating many of the panels from Frank Miller's graphic novels.

This film really fires on all cylinders with a great cast and thanks to Miller's involvement, actually captures the atmosphere and feel of the comic books. Amazing stuff. I sure hope he and Robert Rodriguez get their acts together and crank out a sequel soon. Altho, early word is that Miller's take on THE SPIRIT is pretty awful (the trailers look quite bad) so he may want to hook up with Rodriguez sooner than later.

Ed Howard said...

Oooh, nicely done. I'd say this movie lends itself especially well to stills since Rodriguez so deliberately attempted to capture the quality of Miller's individual panels from the original comics. I love this film, even if its success did lead to the abysmal 300 adaptation and Miller's own forthcoming mauling of Will Eisner's classic The Spirit. Miller doesn't seem to realize that while this style works great for Sin City, it can't just be applied indiscriminately to whatever material he wants.

Keith said...

Hey Jeremy. What an amazing film. I love it so much. It's definitely one of my favorite films of the decade. It looks so beautiful. It really draws you in. It also had a fantastic cast. There were so many great performances. It had such a magical atmosphere about it. I do hope they get a sequel out.

Tony Dayoub said...

Extremely underrated film. As for The Spirit, I'm willing to give it a chance... innocent till proven guilty and all that.

But if it tanks, the chances for a Sin City sequel tank along with it.

BTW, great shots from Heat I've been seeing. Hope you discuss that one soon.

Samuel Wilson said...

I respectfully disagree. The exact faithfulness of Rodriguez' adaptation is the movie's great flaw. Comic book dialogue works according to a different narrative logic from movie dialogue. Transcribing Miller's dialogue directly on film ended up sounding stilted to me. I admit also that I liked the Sin City comics initially, but grew tired of Miller's obsessions by the end of the third series -- which does leave possibly the best story, "A Dame to Kill For," to be adapted in a second movie. I can admire the movie visually (those are nice captures) and I suppose it can be appreciated as a formal experiment, but Rodriguez has done better -- I think Planet Terror is his best yet.

J.D. said...

Samuel Wilson:

Well, the stilted sounding dialogue seemed, to me at least, to be kinda the point, drawing attention to the artificiality of the whole thing - this is, after all, a hyper-stylized world right out of a Mickey Spillane novel. I think that some actors did a better job with the dialogue than others. Clive Owen and Mickey Rourke, for example, fared very well, while Michael Madsen, not so much, but I think that it is more to do with the strengths and limitations of various actors in the cast.

I agree with you to a certain degree about the original comic book series which felt fatigued by the time HELL AND BACK came out.

I also agree that PLANET TERROR is quite possibly Rodriguez's best film to date - alto, I enjoy DESPERADO a helluva lot.

MovieMan0283 said...

I didn't care much for this movie but I have to admit it does LOOK fantastic.

Professor Brian O'Blivion said...

Cool pick, a great film. Looking forward to Sin City 2 and The Spirit.

Larry Aydlette said...

I loved the comic book series. Didn't care much for the movie, except for Rourke. But these stills make me want to take a second look at it. I felt the movie played down the sensuality, too.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks JD,
I am still looking forward to The Spirit, and I hope the early poor word of mouth is wrong. I would love to see Robert and Frank get together again soon though as their collaboration here was so memorable.

Thanks Ed,
I too hated 300 with a passion...agreed that this film did lend itself extremely well to this series. I felt like I could capture pretty much any image from the film and it would is quite striking.

Thanks Keith,
I agree and am greatly anticipating the sequel as well.

Thanks Tony,
I really do hope The Spirit turns out to be better than expected. The cast is just extraordinary...I appreciate the nice words on the Heat design, a real personal favorite to me. Look for it to be highlighted eventually here.

Thanks Samuel,
I appreciate your honest thoughts here...I agree with JD that the 'stilted dialogue' was kind of the point but it is actually my least favorite part of the film as well. The film's visual power is what sells me on it. Have you ever watched the recut version of the movie on disc where you can watch the stories individually as short films? I almost find it works narratively better in that form, and it might work better for you...anyway, thanks again for the always welcome words of disagreement.

Thanks MovieMan,
It is a visual doubt.

Thanks Professor,
Again I really hope The Spirit turns out to be a pleasant surprise...

Thanks Larry,
One of the main faults of the film for me are the scenes involving Alba's character as it does feel like Rodriguez is holding back on the sensuality. I also find Alba to be a weak link in an otherwise incredible cast...I've liked her in other stuff but she rings false here and it gives the film an unfortunate toned-down feel. Agreed on Mickey, an incredible performance and I love watching him with Gugino, another one of my favorite actors.

Thanks everyone for the comments! Forgive my delay in responding. I am in the midst of packing for a move and am quite busy and stressed.
Oh, also I would rank this in my top three Rodriguez films...I too love Planet Terror and have a very soft spot for From Dusk Till Dawn, a film I never tire of revisiting.

Tony Dayoub said...

Maybe I'm on crack or something, but I think Planet Terror is the worst of Rodriguez's films (well, Spy Kids 2 & 3, and Shark-Boy are his worst).

Anyone care to explain why they like it so much? I find it to be an insipid, unnecessary crib off of Romero, O'Bannon and Carpenter.

Ed Howard said...

I don't think Planet Terror is anything amazing -- especially in comparison to Tarantino's remarkable and sadly underrated Death Proof -- but it's a lot of fun. In a way, I feel about it the same way I do about all of Rodriguez's films: it's a light, knowing genre exercise that's a blast to watch but not very substantial. Even Sin City is like this, though Miller's tendency to simultaneously tweak and celebrate genre conventions helps to complicate Rodriguez's usual joyful embrace of pulpy genres. My favorite Rodriguez is probably The Misbehavors, his contribution to the otherwise lousy portmaneau film Four Rooms: that's a truly hilarious short.

J.D. said...

Ed Howard:

I find PLANET TERROR to be one of Rodriguez's stronger films because it is quite simply just so damn entertaining. I love all the faux scratches, nics and missing reel to simulate a beat-up old film print and all of the homages to George Romero and John Carpenter (among many others) and yet it still feels like its own thing. It's also funny, gory, full of action and beautiful woman. What more could you want out of this kind of film?

DEATH PROOF was a big, big let down for me. Too much talking in scenes that went no where. Too much of QT's foot fetish. Frankly, I was bored until the first car crash and then bored again until the finale. If QT's purpose was to emulate old grindhouse films then he failed miserably. The man is just way too in love with his own dialogue for my tastes.

Ed Howard said...

J.D.: Planet Terror is sheer trashy, pulpy joy, no doubt about it. I prefer the Tarantino though, precisely because it transcends its grindhouse origins rather than simply providing a loving tribute/ripoff like Rodriguez does. The difference between the two directors, who share some superficial similarities, is that Rodriguez is largely comfortable simply reiterating the style of the films he loves; I don't think he's made any film, with the possible exception of Sin City, that is really more than a collection of genre tics and references being uncritically regurgitated. Tarantino is often accused of the same thing, but mistakenly I'd say; there's is a great deal of emotional depth and thematic complexity in the way he references and rearranges the movies he's drawing upon. Death Proof may disappoint those looking for the thrilling grindhouse ride that Rodriguez delivers, but it's a formally and thematically ambitious film, one of Tarantino's best if you ask me.

Samuel Wilson said...

Keeping up with the GRINDHOUSE digression, I agree with J.D. on the relative merits of Planet Terror and Death Proof. Rodriguez just seemed to catch the essence of the by-now mythologized grindhouse experience. The cinematography and editing were amazingly atmospheric. The trailers (especially THANKSGIVING) lived up to that standard, while Death Proof only kicked in once Stuntman Bob went on the attack. Tarantino seemed to want to test how much chatter we could endure before we got some action, but that just wasn't true to the GRINDHOUSE concept. He needed to be his own Roger Corman and cut himself ruthlessly, saving the dialogue for the solo DVD.

Returning to SIN CITY, I should stress that my problem was less with Rodriguez and his finished product than with Frank Miller and his source material. I was a fan in the early days, but he's clearly a case of arrested development. I join those who are troubled by the prospect of Miller adapting THE SPIRIT, since it'd be hard to find an artist more temprementally unfit to handle Will Eisner's characters.But if Rodriguez ever goes back to Sin City and adapts "A Dame to Kill For," you could still have a very good film.

Neil Fulwood said...

Wow! Great to see an educator commentator on cinema wholeheartedly getting behind 'Sin City'. I loved in unreservedly when it first came out and found myself in a minority. Everyone I spoke to about the film hated it, citing its violence, misogyny and cynicism as negatives, when the very point of the film - and the very point of Miller's sequence of graphic novels - was a hardcore espousal of the aesthetic of 40s and 50s pulp fiction and film noir, the very keystones of which were exactly these things.

Great, too, to read the comments and realise that I'm not the only person who loves 'Sin City' so much, nor the only the person who wishes Rodriguez would pull his finger out and get the sequel in production.

The 'Grindhouse' digression made for an interesting debate. For me, 'Planet Terror' looked more like a 70s B-movie, while 'Death Proof' was the more subversive of the two. The film never screened as 'Grindhouse' here in the UK, so I ended up buying 'Planet Terror' on Region 1 DVD, watching it the morning 'Death Proof' opened, surfing the net for the spoof trailers, then going to see 'Death Proof' in the afternoon.

Adam Ross said...

I'm with Neil, it's great to know there are other cinephiles out there who don't hide their love of Sin City. I don't know if it's a masterpiece, but there are so many moments in it that give me shivers (particularly in Marv's story, like Gugino crying "He made me watch!" or any of Hauer's lines).

Joe said...

Walter Hill and Warren Beatty both tried making comic book movies. The results were Streets of Fire and Dick Tracy and I think Sin City will probably not age any better.

The visuals are stunning, characters non-existent, story idiotic and dialogue that looks good in comic panels is killer when put it the mouths of actors. It just stopped the movie cold for me.

I will admit that the stills are stunning looking and that Robert Rodriguez was the perfect director for this material. No movie he's ever been involved in amounts to much more than a collection of shorts - some good, some bad - competing within the same movie.

Jeremy Richey said...

Wow, Thanks everybody. I wouldn't have guessed that this post would have caused so many reactions. It's been great to read so many different and intelligent opinions on the film...a couple of things:

Count me with the Death Proof camp. As much as I like Panet Terror, I prefer Death Proof in every way. I'll let this thought from Ed,

"Tarantino is often accused of the same thing, but mistakenly I'd say; there's is a great deal of emotional depth and thematic complexity in the way he references and rearranges the movies he's drawing upon. Death Proof may disappoint those looking for the thrilling grindhouse ride that Rodriguez delivers, but it's a formally and thematically ambitious film, one of Tarantino's best if you ask me."

sum up how I feel about it for now...

Also Neil and Adam,
Thanks to you both for some of the nicest words I have had here. I really appreciate the kind words and confidence.

Thanks Joe,
Always great to see you here...I think the big difference between Sin City and the two films you mentioned (and the reason I think Sin City will age better) is that Rodriguez and Miller really managed to capture the essence of the graphic novel to my eyes, whereas Hill and Beatty didn't (which I don't mean as a slap to their films), if you don't like the source material then obviously that doesn't matter.

Again, thanks to everyone for making this one of my most surprisingly talked about posts.

J.D. said...

Ed Howard:

Ah, well, we'll have to agree to disagree on DEATH PROOF, then as I think it failed to transcend its grindhouse origins. Or, maybe I just didn't like how QT transcended them.

I do agree with you when you say, "Rodriguez is largely comfortable simply reiterating the style of the films he loves". And I don't think he makes any apologies for doing just that.

However, I do disagree with you that QT does the same thing. The only emotional depth I've seen in any of his films came in the wonderful relationship between Pam Grier and Robert Forester's characters in JACKIE BROWN. His other films just seem to be showing off as he name checks countless references to other films. His habit of stealing has been exhaustively documented so I won't go into but I feel that JACKIE BROWN is probably his richest, most emotionally involving film and, of course, it was his least successful, financial. I don't he's ever achieved that kind of depth since.

For me, DEATH PROOF was just more of the same. That being said, from what I've read and the stills I've seen of QT's upcoming WWII film, look promising. So, we'll see.