Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Sneak peek at Sin City

Tipped by the estimable Bryant Frazer, here's a must-see trailer for a movie that looks like nothing you've ever seen before: Robert Rodriguez's adaptation of Frank Miller's adolescent pulp-graphic novel Sin City (5 minute video -- be warned), starring Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson (both looking super-hot), Josh Hartnett, Benicio Del Toro, and a host of other luminaries. The trailer has the feel of perfume-porn, but it sports an astonishing high contrast look and spare sets that are a perfect match for Miller's blocky, abstract style (simple thick lines, heavy-inks, and a geometric approach to figure rendering). What you find is a half-dazzling, half-overcooked display of retro-noir expresionism, two parts Jacques Tourneur to one part Luc Besson. The look promises to be one-of-a-kind, but the movie might very well be a turkey for the ages. Why? You can already get a taste of the embarrassingly purple pulp dialogue. Then, there's the creative force behind this thing. Miller's unshakeable alpha-teen-boy sensibility[1] (his stories are filled with brooding, boozing anti-heroes, ninjas, and scantily-clad, utterly shallow femmes fatales) coupled with the often peurile more-chic-than-thou stylistics of Robert Rodriguez promise a synergy that make send shivers down the spines of ComiCon nerds. For those with less caffeinated inclinations, this is recipe for bad, over-stylized nonsense.

But I'm so there. And my cousin Doug is gonna spurt in his pants when he sees this.

[1] Miller's done some good stuff, foremost among them his Daredevil run and The Dark Knight Returns. But he's strictly a poet for 16 year-old fanboys, a guy who reinvents hoary superheroes for a darker, "edgier" era, not a genius like Alan Moore. Sin City is a pretty poor piece of pulp storywise -- it's an exercise in dark graphic style with nary a compelling theme or character to hook on to. As such, it doesn't approach the level of a dense good yarn like pulp comic series Stray Bullets, not to mention a master novelist like, say, Donald Westlake.