Sin City (2005)
I originally wrote off Sin City (2005) without really looking into what it was about. Partly because I’m not a fan of comic book films and I had yet to discover film noir which I now love, if only I could get more of that American genre. I started to think differently about this film really with its mention by the director Robert Rodriguez who said that without digital technology this film would not be possible. Part of the fascination Side by Side (2012) documentary which really made me aware of this film, the landmark of visual effects and storytelling. You could say it was simply overlooked, I wasn’t going to start with the sequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014) without a basic understanding of Frank Miller‘s world, one that combine the violence film noir and the action that can be drawn to life by comic books or graphic novels.
Now with all that foundation in place all I had to do was sit down and enjoy, and enjoy I did, entering a dark world of literally sin around every corner of this heavily stylised environment. Taking black and white to a whole new level. It has to be filmed digitally to allow for so many alterations to be made, from a flicker of eye colour to the saturation of white when someone’s blood leaves their body. Combining both the classic noir imagery with some contemporary twists. I wouldn’t know where to begin to bring this pre WWII world up to date, everything just fits so well.
That’s before we even get to the cast, a rare time when there is an equal balance of both male and female actors. Ok not all in lead roles but their inclusion shows a fully fleshed out, all at each others throats exacting revenge, protecting their own backs world for us to explore. Split up into three acts, with an equally sinister pro and epilogue to wet you’re appetites, you never know whose behind the next corner, partly because of the contrast and the fast pace of this depressingly violent tales.
I recently caught again Death Becomes Her (1992) which reminded me how good Bruce Willis can be without a massive gun in his hand. Granted he plays Hartigan a detective. he has to rely more on his acting chops than his muscles. In part due to the classic voice over that is synonymous with noir, allowing us into the psyches of the characters, usually looking back at what they did, how they could have changed things. Or just to narrate the events. here we have a look back for all our leads as they all sought justice of sorts. Willis away from the action genre and that stereotype he has helped form can actually give a good performance.
I could go into detail about each act which is as violence as the other, to be honest I wouldn’t have it any other way. Updating the genre for the 21st century more effectively that George Clooney‘s The Good German (2006) which felt forced and heavy handed with the language pumped up to another level. I didn’t even notice it here in Sin City it felt natural, part of the fabric, more subtle. Pumping up the action that brought the screen alive, Even in a limited pallet of colours we still have splashes of colour, literally in places.
Today nearly 10 years later the techniques are common place, that’s probably why the sequel recently released didn’t prove to do so well. At the time, when the majority of films are made in colour this is a rare jump back in time with a modern twist of what we find today. Helping to change and develop the visual language we use today. To see todays actors up on the big-screen in black and white is a real treat and not to be missed. It’s not the best film in terms acting, it is in terms of characters, the action and visuals that draw you into this corrupt and delicious world of violence.