RARA-AVIS: Re: At the Movies... (Gone, Baby, Gone)

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 29 Oct 2007

At 01:46 PM 27/10/2007, Kevin wrote, re Sin City: So perfect for the fourteen year olds that make up the so much of the movie-going audience.

Thanks Kevin. I haven't been called a 14 year old for 44 years.

No prob. But to enjoy SIN CITY -- or a lot of what passes for movies these days, you really do have to gear down.

The irony is that SIN CITY gets labeled "for mature (or adult) audiences only" and yet it's geared directly to the 14-year old in all of us. There's nothing particularly adult or mature in it. It may be visually a little more sophisticated than your average THREE'S COMPANY episode, but it's still popcorn, pure and simple.

Not that there's anything inherently wrong with that, providing you can shift back into adult mode eventually.

I don't know... SIN CITY looked cool, but to me it was just a pretentious comic book (OOOH, black ink!) turned into a pretentious cartoon, PULP FICTION meets Bugs Bunny, but without the wit of either. Would either the graphic novel or the film of SIN CITY have survived as a straight prose story, without the visuals?

Isn't that sort of the point? I took the movie to be the new millennium's equivalent of what was once called "camp," a sort of surreal self parody. I loved watching Mickey Rourke play a role that appeared to me to be an ideal of his own public image, drawn to the extreme and illogical end. My impression is that the movie did the same to the hardboil genre itself. Sort of a slap in the face to fans like us that this is what we enjoy and take seriously, to which our only logical response must be to laugh and ask, "Is that all you got?"

Unfortunately, a parody isn't necessarily the thing itself. If I'm going to fork over my movie money for parodies and spoofs, I prefer them to be a little less broad; a little more nuanced. A little less hit over the head and slapped in the face and a little more nudge nudge wink wink.

I enjoyed BRICK and KISS KISS BANG BANG, for example. But that might also be because their affection for the genre was obvious whereas SIN CITY actually didn't seem particularly affectionate about anything, much less the genre it's supposedly parodying. Hell, it didn't even seem all that knowledgeable about it.

It did, however, seem in love with the worst and most obvious excesses of it, what Chandler in a particular moment of self-hatred likened to "Tarzan on a motor scooter." As Nathan insightfully pointed out, "(SIN CITY is) almost a parody of Spillane, whose work already comes close to being a parody.... I mean, when someone does a half-assed genre attempt, like Sin City, or they're looking to parody PI's for a sitcom episode or something similar, Spillane's style is often what gets used as source material. Did his work seem fresh when it originally came out?"

Only for those who'd never read RACE WILLIAMS, Spillane's obvious
(and acknowledged) inspiration.

And 300 was much the same, all fat and precious little meat. Except it added the gay element. So homophobic 14-year olds could look at naked sweaty, well-built men and not have to wait for football season. It's got to be about the gayest straight movie ever made.

Well, there's an insight. Funny, too. I wonder if as many of my fellow 14 year olds are sweating over their sexual identities after seeing 300 as hardboil fans are sweating over the revelations to come about what it might mean to enjoy Chandler.

We'll know if Miller's Marlowe spends most of the film going down those mean streets displaying his oiled, buff bod and parading around in a leather thong.

Don't even ask where he hangs his fedora.

Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site

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