RARA-AVIS: Re: The Dark Night. No, the Noir Knight. No, the Black Knight. Oh, good night...

From: Kevin Burton Smith (kvnsmith@sbcglobal.net)
Date: 27 Jul 2008

  • Next message: davezeltserman: "RARA-AVIS: Re: The Dark Night. No, the Noir Knight. No, the Black Knight. Oh, good night..."

    Dave wrote:

    > Kevin, I take it you didn't like Sin City?

    More hugely disappointed, I think, than outright disliked, especially after all the hype. I'd already been let down by the books themselves. I thought perhaps another stab at the material would imbue the story with some much-needed grey; a little emotional nuance to draw the audience in. Instead the story was dumbed down even further; made more black and white than ever.

    (One reason it failed as noir for me. Despite it's name, noir requires more than black, it requires white... and an infinite spectrum of greys.)

    > That's too bad. Personally
    > I found it one of the funnest, most innovative and visually boldest
    > movies of 2005.

    Funny? Most of the humour was of the eyeball-rolling type. I'm not even sure the humour was intentional, half the time.

    > I agree with you about it not being noir. I'd call it
    > instead hardboiled pulp with noir archetypes. About there being no
    > character development, well, I'm not sure a movie like this requires
    > intense character development, but I'd still have to think Marv and
    > Hartigan were interesting and in their own ways sympathetic even if
    > they were not much more than archetypes. D-list pulp? No, much better
    > than that.


    > Sorry, but with this one I tend to side with nearly every
    > major movie reviewer that Sin City was a stunning achievement.

    The raves (not quite as widespread as you may imagine, by the way), were mostly (and justifiably) for the hi-tech visuals, cinematic silicone of the highest order, and not the storytelling. I wish they'd spent as much time on getting the script right as on getting the falling rain just right (the latter an achievement both Rodriguez and Miller proudly went on and on -- and on -- about in a special I saw. Wisely, they barely mentioned the script).

    Visually bold? Yer darn tootin'.

    But narratively? It was still chicken shit.

    Eisner's Spirit was, as a friend put it, "gentle and ironic - sometimes very powerful - and visually very witty." Chandler's Marlowe is a poetry of crushed ideals, broken romanticism and a brooding, dogged chivalry pursued by a lonely man very much part of a world he can barely stomach at times.

    Miller's work so far has presented very little to make me think he can pull off either project. And if he can, would he? Would he risk alienating his hordes of new popcorn-chomping fans, many of whom think severed limbs and beheadings are the soul of wit?

    A talky, witty, subtly nuanced film is not what they'd be wanting. And both Eisner and Chandler deserve that.

    Chandler wrote of "music from a distant hill" and of a man "with a face like a collapsed lung." Guess which line Miller would latch onto, and how he would film it.


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