Bum Ticker

When I finished watching Sin City, I was quite unsure of my reaction to it, which pretty much rules out unmitigated praise for it. In hindsight, it has gotten worse. I know Matt Yglesias and others really liked it, but I can't quite figure out why. Furthermore, while at least one blogger feels that the more extreme, cringe-inducing, violence detracted from the film and made him worry about cultural decline in America, I think the visually arresting violence was one of the redeeming aspects of the film. Not because it's violent, but because it was depicted in a novel, and in some scenes really interesting ways. However, while Yglesias tries to defend the blood and gore on the grounds of the film actually showing the results of violence rather than obscuring it as so many other films do, I think that's off base. So many of the characters in the film were so stoic (not to say super-human) that while the film is quite handy at visually depicting the violence in hard to watch ways, it is hard to believe that many of the characters are really feeling pain. So it seems to me that the film doesn't really do a great job of showing the consequences of violence, despite its gore.

The acting was a mixed bag, with Michael Madsen's performance being noticeably laughable. I was, and remain, half convinced that it was being done as an intentional joke. In which case it was quite funny. Bruce Willis was good and maybe better than good. Alexis Bledel played against type really well. Really though, I think most of the characters are written as so unexpressive of any emotion that I find it hard to criticize the actors work, so much as what they had to work with. And if I don't mention someone's performance, it's only because I didn't particularly like it. Especially Clive Owen, who couldn't even play a scene in which he's hallucinating speaking to a corpse in an interesting manner.

Some of the humor really works, in particular the henchman/arrow scene. I have trouble explaining why the film noir/ crime novel dialogue didn't work for me, since I like both of those genres. But it doesn't work most of the time in this film. There are plot holes galore, though those may well be addressed in the source material and talking about plot holes is considered a low/nerdy form of film discussion for some reason. These are fairly superficial reactions, but it has been a longtime since I've written anything about a movie, let alone "film criticism."