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October 13, 2009

Film Fatale: Frank Miller’s Sin City

sincity1This movie kicks ass. I couldn’t say enough good things about it. The comic (published by Dark Horse Comics) was created, written, and drawn by Frank Miller. It’s his baby. Robert Rodriguez, who also directed such lovelies as Desperado and From Dusk till Dawn, hounded Frank Miller, calling all his contacts until he got a meeting with him. He really wanted to make this movie, and he wanted to do it with long time friend and working partner Quentin Tarantino. These guys always work together, using the same actors multiple times, so when Rodriguez needed to film a short scene for the movie in just one day to have some material to win over Frank Miller with, he called in Josh Hartnett. He and Hartnett had worked together when he directed The Faculty. This scene ended up being the beginning of the movie. Needless to say, after seeing Rodriguez’s work, Frank Miller was sold. Once they decided to make this movie, boy did they decide to make it right. Frank Miller’s creation was treated with care. Not only did the sole creator, writer and artist for the comic create the screenplay and co-direct it, but fellow co-director Rodriguez also served as cinematographer and editor to the film; add a seasoning of Quentin Tarantino as “special guest director” and you’ve got the recipe for greatness. Tarantino also called in some old working buddies to act in the movie. Bruce Willis who was in Pulp Fiction, and Michael Madsen who was in Kill Bill, jumped at the chance to work with Tarantino on such an exciting project. This film has an all star cast besides these two stars, including Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Alexis Bledel, Benicio del Toro, Brittany Murphy, Jamie King, Carla Gugino, and Elijah Wood, among others.

SinCity 001 Frank Miller Writer ArtistThe film follows three of Frank Miller’s stories, the first of which is “That Yellow Bastard,” the story of an old cop (Bruce Willis) who fights to save a little girl (later played by Jessica Alba) from a sadistic serial killer. The next story we encounter is “The Hard Goodbye,” about a man’s (Mickey Rourke) killing spree to find the truth about the murder of his one night love (Jamie King), for which he was framed. The last story is “The Big Fat Kill,” which is about a group of hookers (Rosario Dawson, Alexis Bledel) who try to keep up their shaky truce with the cops (Benicio del Toro) and the mob to prevent a big bloody war. As the film progresses the stories begin to intermingle, some seemingly at the same time; others go back in time to show you what is also happening with another story line. The film is shot in noir style and has great contrasts, which is why I think it works so well. The black and white, with color at times, the gritty violence mixed with dead pan almost cheesy humor, the interesting choice of casting. We get a lot of voice over narration in each of the stories provided by Willis, Rourke and Owen. It works because the dialogue is so great, you get a real feel of what’s going on inside their head, and it’s like watching a real comic in action, not just a movie.


I love the part where Marv is going with Wendy to find and kill Kevin, and they show what he’s bringing with him to do it with. They go through his inventory almost like a video game, showing only the supplies against a black backdrop: rubber tubing, gas, a saw, gloves, cuffs, razor wire, a hatchet, Gladys (his gun), and “my mitts” (they flash his big shaking paws aching to choke someone, which is the best part of that little scene). The only little mess up that I noticed, is when Rourke is being interrogated by Wendy and he’s tied up in the chair, there is blood on his bottom lip and lower half of his face, then it’s gone, then it’s back again.


Everyone fits their part perfectly. What’s ironic is that you wouldn’t think they would. For example Mickey Rourke, with his plastic surgery among other reasons, would seem a peculiar choice for gladiatoresque Marv. However after lots of special effects make-up, Rourke is rendered unrecognizable, and with his deep, rough voice and old days attitude, he makes a perfect fit for Marv. Then there’s Gilmore Girls‘ Alexis Bledel playing street hooker Becky. And the last strange casting decision is Elijah Wood as insane serial killer Kevin, who is thoroughly creepy by the way. They all fit their roles to a T. You’ve also got the usual hotties as well – Jessica Alba, Brittany Murphy, Jamie King (who provides nudity), and hottest of all (I think), is Carla Gugino (who provides nudity as well). As Marv puts it, “She’s a dyke, but God knows why. With that body of hers she could have any man she wants.” Even the T and A have talent though. Gugino provides sultry serious vibe, plus a truly terrifying performance later on. Likewise with Murphy and Alba; both play their sweet roles endearingly, with Murphy doing a little of her sarcastic comedy that she does so well. And finally Rosario Dawson as the hard ass hooker gal. She’s got the bitch thing down with ferociousness, and steaming sexuality to boot. As Clive Owen’s character describes her – “My warrior woman. She almost yanks my head clean off, shoving my mouth into hers so hard it hurts. An explosion that blasts away the dull, gray years between the now and that one fiery night when she was mine.” That’s another thing I love about this movie – the script. The use of words is so delicious, it completely captures your attention and makes sure you’re paying attention. On top of all that, the beautiful way they shoot in this almost luminous black and white, while at times selectively having things in brilliant colors… it’s nothing short of a work of art. In the behind the scenes footage Frank Miller states, “Of all the principals involved in this, I’ve been the most startled by how faithful it is to the original… In a lot of ways this movie’s quite literally like having a dream come true.” Critics love it, the public loves it, I love it, Frank Miller loves it… If you’re one of the few who haven’t seen it yet, I think you know what to do.


The Movie Lady



  1. Kristin

    It was a pretty good film. I haven’t read the comic, so I wasn’t able to understand the stylistic interpretation. But I thought it was interesting, and that it turned out really well.

  2. I like this movie a lot. When I got the DVD I actually watched the movie while flip through the comic. I was amazed at how they captured the comic practically panel for panel.

  3. InfiniteSpeech

    i’ve only flipped through the books and never read the stories but after seeing the movie i was impressed at how much style matched what I saw on those pages! It’s a great movie and one of the better comic movies ever done..now i’m going to go look at Rosario Dawson lol

  4. billy

    This is definitely a movie on my to be watched list.

  5. I agree with you 100% Movie Lady. This movie is freakin’ awesome. I watched it the other night with my lady friend and she really dug it too!!

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