Year Released: 2005
Directed by: Robert Rodriquez, Frank Miller, Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Benicio Del Toro, Elijah Wood
(R, 126 min.)
"One man cannot hold another man down in the ditch without remaining in the ditch with him." Ralph Waldo Emerson
How sick does it get? Did you ever hide one of your Easter eggs so well that you didn't find it for about six months, when the rancid odor of what you believed to be dead vermin gave away its hiding place? That's the kind of "hard-boiled" you will find in Sin City.
Actually the best thing about the movie was that my husband and I were the only patrons in the theatre. That gives me hope for the sanity of the American people. And we're talking Austin, Texas, here, the site of the forsaken warehouse where this was spawned, as well as chief watering hole for great buds Rodriquez and Tarantino.
The best and worst of the film is its supposed allegiance to Mickey Spillane, Raymond Chandler and their tough-talking down-on-their-luck gumshoes. The voice over narration of each tale – Wood’s, Willis,’ Rourke's, and Owen's --has that same hard-boiled feel, so it lures you into thinking you are about to watch a new version of Bogart and Bacall. Don't fall for it. Bogie, Chandler, and Spillane would be turning over in their graves. Sin City is hard-boiled in the same way that a satanic mass is a religious ritual.
Why is it that pontificating pundits were so appalled at the violence of The Passion of the Christ but seem to take the blood and guts (actually, it's not so much guts but other body parts better left unnamed) of this movie with aplomb? A friend, whose opinion I respect, said that cartoon aspect, with spurting blood white, or green, and even an iridescent orange, made the multiple mutilations easier to take. And that is why it is so insidious and yes, dangerous.
A white bloody stump that has been ravaged by our resident cannibal is not nearly so nauseating as a red one. And castration performed without benefit of a knife is not quite so appalling if the removed appendages are orange, I believe. I think this must be what violent video games are like and why they breed a detached delight for killing in certain wayward youth.
That is why I sat there for the full 126 minutes, so I could make this public service announcement. No only should you, a reasonable adult -- or why else would you be reading this --avoid paying good money for this feature, but you are advised to keep your teenaged children from being exposed to such sickness.
Which gets me on to the twisted treatment of women in Sin City. The women in hard-boiled fiction are usually lovely damsels whose luscious lips may lie or speak God's truth. They may also have, in varying degrees, shady pasts, shadier past boyfriends, golden cigarette cases, and silhouettes to die for. The one such woman who exists in the film is assassinated in the opening scene at close range by our first anti (with a capital "A") hero.
The other women are mainly gun toting prostitutes who seem to make up for past misogynist tendencies of the genre by killing off as many men as possible. They use bow and arrow or semi-automatics as well as sharp blades, which also come in handy when they're trying to stuff as many body parts as possible into a car trunk. It's as if seeing the barely clad girls drilling pimps and police with lead makes up for the testosterone-tainted perspective of the various narrators.
And speaking of nearly naked ladies, I forgot Rourke's lesbian parole officer who gets him pills from her psychiatrist lover and opens her door to him wearing nothing but a thong. Words desert me.
And once again, in true Hollywood fashion, the church is completely corrupt. A bishop not only condones, but also participates in cannibalism, and another corrupt priest is shot dead in his confessional. Certainly, there is corruption in the church. Chaucer wrote one of the greatest works of English literature cataloging it, but he also had a least a few virtuous clerics in there, too. It's the balance that Hollywood is missing.
Finally, we have the Willis subplot, which initially shows some signs of merit. The pushing sixty police detective saves eleven-year-old Nancy from torture, rape, and a horrible death. In the process he brings about his own. Or so we think. He is brought back from near death so the senator father of the rapist can enjoy his being framed for the crime and sent to prison. All throughout Willis' 8 years behind bars little Nancy writes to him. Okay so far, but here is the spoiler. Now Nancy has become an exotic dancer -- all the women are over-sexualized -- and the buxom nineteen-year-old lusts for the sixty something Willis. (Why do the private lives or secret fantasies of the actors and their ex-spouses have to invade the plot?)
Ultimately, I would say that everyone involved in the writing, producing, and perhaps the making of this sick film needs some serious time with a shrink. Worst of all are the females who seem perfectly willing to participate in this perversion squared screen abomination.
Sin City is really red meat for fans of Miller, Tarantino, and Rodriguez, so it is not too surprising that the food most mentioned --aside from a few references to human flesh -- is a "good, thick steak." If you have read this review and decided to take my advice and pass this one up, at least reward yourself with a detectable version of the seared beef. For those of you who were merely egged on (sorry for the pun) to see this sick spectacle, wait a while for your stomach to settle before breaking fast.
Our version of steak is from an appropriately named source, the Carnivore.
From the Carnivore himself:
Just thought someone might appreciate my own favorite personal steak recipe--this is a creation based on my favorite elements of the 100 steak recipes I've tried in the last two years.
2 good sized steaks, trimmed of EXCESS fat only (see personal preferences)
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp dehydrated minced garlic
1 tsp dehydrated minced onion
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp red wine
1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
Grind the peppercorns, garlic, onion, and coriander seeds coarsely in a spice mill. Place in a small bowl and add the salt, red pepper, and brown sugar. Mix well with your fingers and transfer to a spice or cheese shaker (with large holes). Sprinkle the seasoning on both sides on the steaks (don't apply too liberally; just save the rest for tomorrow's steaks), patting the spices in with your fingers. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes while you preheat the grill and make the baste.
Preheat the grill to hot. Combine the soy sauce, red wine, and vinegar in a small bowl. Set aside.
Grill the steaks to desired doneness, uncovered, and flipping them only once. About one minute before flipping, brush or mop them with the baste. After flipping, brush with baste, and again right before taking off grill. Place steaks on a platter, and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve.
Use good, thick steaks (over 1 inch thick). My favorite is rib eye (or shell steak).
Don't trim all the fat off the steaks. Leave up to 1/8 inch of fat around the sides of the steak.
Don't cook the steaks above medium.
For best results, cook over charcoal or wood.
Recipe Source: Carnivore