Sin City—–Review

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ABC showed an interesting thing one day. The segment was:” What is art?” and it consisted of taking some expensive works of modern art and displaying them side by side with the blochings of a one year old child and asking a series of art experts to distinguish the real from the fakes. Not only did most of the aficionados get it dead wrong, they doubly shot themselves in the foot by discovering nuances and styles in the paintings of a one year old. Then on being found out for being the false prophets that they are, they justified their judgment by saying that the child had exhibited maturity beyond his year(s). Hokum. Pure and simple.

I wanted to see “Sin City”. I had been seduced by it’s very interesting promos, the concept and of course its galaxy of stars. I also read rottentomatoes which has the collection of reviews from different media sources and the pundits were almost unanimous in their verdict—-it’s a classic ! After all they are the experts—they should know. And based on that, I spent a good 10 bucks to watch it at the Manhattan AMC and after spending 2 hours and 16 minutes wading through this so-called noir movie it hits me——-Sin City is the movie equivalent of the painting of an year old , over-hyped and over-analyzed for what it is not worth.

Have I become dumbed down by watching Jessica Simpson eating chicken of the sea? Have I lost my sense of aesthetics and become a phillistine who is incapable of appreciating greatness even when it’s thrust in my face?

That very well may be the case.

But the way I see it, Sin City is one elaborate exercise in cinematic narcissism with every frame screaming out “Look how cool I am”. Yes sir I got that one—every frame looks like a page from a comic book with exaggerated darks and whites and stunning splashes of periodic selective color. Eye candy.Undeniably so.

However if a sequence of mind numbing visuals makes a classic, Asoka is Citizen Kane.

A few critics have dubbed it the new Pulp Fiction. It is not. While Pulp Fiction had an intricate collage of mutually overlapping stories temporally displaced and then sewn together in a synaesthetic pattern—Sin City is nothing but a series of three linear stories with none of the thunderous dialogue and mesmerizing music that made Pulp Fiction a must-see.

One of the heroes takes a full blast on an electric chair and keeps on ticking. Another hero is having a heart attack and at the same time gets pumped with lead—-yet he survives. The critics rave—-pure comicbook heroism—-the fantasies of adult comic books brought to celluloid by the genius of Miller and Rodriguez.

Amitabh Bacchan is a coolie, he gets shot full in the chest and Allah’s cloth comes and covers him. He recovers. In Ganga Jamuna Saraswati, he also gets sprayed with bullets, Jaya Prada does a dance around a tree and voila he is good-to-go. What did the critics say? Crap crap and more crap. They of course didn’t know that Manmohan Desai and the like drew their inspiration from Chacha Chowdhury.

That’s just my point. When the critics make up their mind that some movie is a masterpiece, nothing can stop them. The movie’s weaknesses become its strengths—example Sin City’s over-the-topness is, seemingly, it’s greatest strength.

And how ! A yellow-skinned villain whose testicles have been cut out, a crooked cop with a ball for an eye, an army of prostitutes who amputate and maim everyone in their way all the time impeccable in pumps and thongs, an evil Harry Potter who eats people when they are alive, a talking head (it has been cut from the body), a couple of indestructible heroes who jump from tall buildings with feline grace——–are all parts of this classic. I don’t mind the oddball nature of the characters or the delectably perverted nature of Sin City (I am all for perversions) but the movie makes no sense.

There is no impact. It does not make you think. It does not clutch at your heartstrings. It does not even make you laugh (except some moments).

What it does is numb you, like a drunken dream, with its endless mutilations, sadistic violence and its cacophony. Which if you believe the critics is what makes it unique.

Well to be fair the 10 bucks I spent was not a total waste. I got to see Jessica Alba. She looks like a million bucks, has a body to kill (and mutilate) for, and really sends jolts of electricity with her sinuous slitherings. She however cant act to save her life. But I suppose that’s ok—in a tale of redemption, sin and pleasure like Sin City with its homage to comic book characters,it is “in character “not to be able to act.

See ….now even I am speaking like the wise critics.

Normally I would have just called this Aishwarya Raiseque.

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12 thoughts on “Sin City—–Review

  1. I think you’re missing the point completely – personally, I feel its one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time (and I have seen many many movies). Unfortunately, I don’t have the space to explain why.

    However, I will admit that being a HUGE comic book afficianado may have biased my judgement in favour of the movie which is the most accurate portrayal of a graphic novel onscreen (and an all-time classic graphic novel at that).

  2. Well it may be because I do not like graphic novels—-though I cannot claim to have read a lot. I found nothing of interest in the stories of “Sin City”——whether a movie is the most accurate portrayal of a graphic novel is not my point of concern—it is whether Sin City works as a movie. Sometimes a movie like Kill Bill has a wafer-thin predictable plot but can be made to work by deft use of score and script. Where also I think Sin City fell short.

  3. Agree with greatbong’s review. Sin City was a deadly bore. Maybe I didnt get it too. I also like Jessica Simpson 🙂

    Akshay

  4. greatbong can actually write Have I become dumbed down by watching Jessica Simpson eating chicken of the sea? Have I lost my sense of aesthetics and become a phillistine who is incapable of appreciating greatness even when it’s thrust in my face? as well as other coherencies and that’s damned good for a person living in the good ol’ US of A.

    No, greatbong, you haven’t become dumbed down.

    Rantz

  5. i have not seen sin city but i agree with your comment about critics. i am not saying that all critics are hopeless, but sometimes one needs to read critical reviews with a sense of detachment. recently, i saw “head-on”. it came highly recommended, having won several awards here and there, and critics (like manohla dargolis of the new york times – man, i cannot STAND the nyt critics) just wetted themselves all over it. i found the film interesting but undeserving of the lavish praise it received. i dont want to go into a long explanation of why i was not impressed, but i want to say that sometimes one has to deconstruct what the critics are saying, to try to understand what particular brand of intellectualism they are professing or indeed, where (in terms of sociological context) they are coming from, before one can make up one’s mind whether or not to follow their advice. anyway, liked reading your rakesh sharma piece. he showed it at wellesley college, where i watched it. i had similar thoughts, but had not articulated them so well as you did. keep it up.

  6. I have not seen this film, but: I can certainly attest to how a product can by hyped as a work of art without any agreement on what art is other than an egalitarian hope that art is simply what helps one “question” or “uplift.” There’s also the truth that art is not complete without the reception, but really, what can an audience that is not educated in anything other than pop psychology and television culture draw on? Perhaps I’m being too elitist, but Allan Bloom did not draw too fine a point when he wrote that “Indignation is the soul’s defense against the wound of doubt about its own.”

  7. is there a universally recongnized way of assessing movies? which is a different way of asking do movies have a standard purpose (which could be many, just standard)?
    To use your kid scrawls version modern art example, possibly what you and the producers of the show were implicity sugegsting is that a work of art should be consistently recognized as a rare and difficult accomplishment. If we agree to that, then Sin City is not analogus to the child scrawl example. Not too many directors anywhere can render a motion painting like that.
    Liked sin city, but in a weird way, very different from liking Good Will Hunting, for example.

  8. Well the argument is clash of the mediums. Similar arguments are put forth when
    a popular book is transformed (or mutilated) into a book. The thing is they portray totally different things all together in a totally different manner.
    e.g. A book portraying some abstract pose about scenery without using visual imagery then it becomes really hard to make a scene out of it
    Similarily it is really tough to portray the same emotions, thoughts of a comic into a movie
    I saw the similar fate in 300. Story, script, moving images make the core of movie just as the gap between still is important for a comic.

  9. Every movie needs to be analyzed keeping in mind the context in which it is made and the message its trying to deliver. I don’t go in for a David Dhawan’s movie and criticize him saying “The movie is illogical”. At the same time the craziness and the brainless humor becomes its strength. Going by the same logic I am assuming Kill Bill must be a 1 year old’s painting according to you.
    Sin city is definitely a piece of art and a classic example of dark movie making. The characters are over the top but they are meant to be. The movie is about the city, so every story reveals a shade of the city, but this doesn’t take away the strength of the characters which are so powerfully written that the viewer comes in complete awe of them.
    No comparison with pulp fiction, which is one of the best movie of all time, but Tarantino himself directed some 5 min sequence and its hard to differentiate between his past and Robert’s.
    If you really think that Jessica Alba was worth your 10 bucks than i guess you won’t mind paying 20 bucks for Prom Night.

  10. I do not know if you read responses to your older posts.I can understand your POV after watching Sin City and I respect and enjoy your reviews (Case in point: Gunda).Also I am saddended to know that you don’t enjoy reading graphic novels.Going by your taste in pop culture I can suggest quite a lot of graphic novels that you will enjoy.Take the case of Watchmen.A seemingly unfilmable classic of a graphic novel(it came out in 1985 as a 12 part limited series) which is so complex and provides such a multifaceted and multilayered storyline that is compelling as it is entertaining.Watchmen the movie is coming out in 2009 and is directed by Zack Snyder, the same guy who did 300(I may be wrong,you might already know about it) and a lot of fanboys (including me) are excited.I urge you to read this book.It should be available in any public library in the Us of A. Sin City is also somewhat of a classic in its own regard,a Noirish portrayal of a city from the dark mind that gave us one of the best (if not the best) Batman related graphic novel of our times- The Dark Night Returns.Drat. This has balooned into a huge comment so I’ll stop peddling here!

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