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September 02, 2014 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-09-02

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The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 - 7A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, September 2, 2014 - 7A

'Sin City 2' bores

Frank Miller's latest
a lousy example of
film noir
By SEAN CZARNECKI
DailyArts Writer
I appreciate the right kind of
crazy in a person, and there is
plenty of crazy in "Sin City: A
Dame to Kill
For." The black- ("
and-white CGI
is gaudy, the Sin City: A
nudity is bra- Dame to
zen, the one-
liners pile on Kill For
and the gore AtQuality16
spills. It is loud
and tasteless, and Rave
but taste isn't Dimension
the point. It
is not elegant and never claims
to be. Absurdity means every-
thing in a neo-noir universe.
like this, where the ooker chins

stack as high as cities, chivalry
is punished, and the lines that
are drawn are always crossed.
Attitude is everything. Unfor-
tunately, Frank Miller's latest
dreamscape - however nasty,
however wicked - never reach-
es that same level of insanity its
predecessor had, which made it
an unqualified success.
"Sin City" was a novelty back in
2005 when it was released. Freed
from the normal boundaries of
taste, you got the sense Miller
was reveling in the opportunity
to adapt his characters for the big
screen, with co-director Robert
Rodriguez ("Machete Kills") add-
ing campy touches all his own.
The stylized CGI visual palette
of high contrast black-and-white,
coupled with unapologetic vio-
lence and sexuality, appealed to
our fascination with crime. Beni-
cio Del Toro's ("Guardians of the
* Galaxy") turn as the undead Jack-
ie Boy was inspired. Bruce Willis'
("G.I. Joe: Retaliation") self-naro-

dy of the grizzled cop he plays so
often earned smart laughter. But
you won't find such inspiration
in this installment. It would not
surprise me if we look back on "A
Dame to Kill For" as the end of an
era of this kind of visual style.
"A Dame to Kill For" is divided
up into four separate stories, each
of them about as good as the other,
and each following a single pro-
tagonist. Marv (Mickey Rourke,
"The Wrestler") is out killing frat
boys. Johnny (Joseph Gordon-
Levitt, "Don Jon") is an arrogant
card player who plays a risky game
against Sin City's most powerful
politician, Senator Roarke (Pow-
ers Boothe, TV's "Deadwood").
Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin,
"Men in Black 3") is a private
detective haunted by his past,
and drawn back hopelessly into
the schemes of his old lover Ava
Lord (Eva Green, "300: Rise of an
Empire"). And finally, Nancy Cal-
lahan (JessicaAlba, "Machete"), in
desnair.in the madness ofrevenee.

is out to kill Senator Roarke for the
untimely end ofthe man she loved,
John Hartigan (Willis).
Like the original, "A Dame to
Kill For" owes much of its appeal
to its ensemble cast. You get the
sense this movie is a costume
party and its actors come dressed
"to the nines." Christopher Lloyd
(yeah, dude, like Doc Brown from
"Back to the Future") makes a
cameo as a doctor who shoots up
heroin before every operation. (It's
how he's got those steady hands.)
It's a brilliant high point of the
movie; if only there were more
moments like it, with that same
outrageous humor. The actors
seem to be having fun, but for all
the noise, it was repetitive and I
ended up just being bored. The
amnesia-prone Marv serves as a
convenient metaphor: lumbering,
ponderous, hungover, constantly
re-tracing his own steps.
My political awareness has
grown since I was thirteen,
when I first saw "Sin City" and
the "awesome" factor was all
that mattered. It's time now to
acknowledge the series' conflicts
with its treatment of women. I do
understand Rodriguez and Miller
are treating their subject matter
tongue-in-cheek and that they
narodv and follow the "evlni-

Like a Black Widow baby.
tation" tradition of the '70s and
'80s - films like "I Spit on Your
Grave." I understand also they
wanted to create capable women
that are dangerous, who weap-
onize their sexuality and pun-
ish lechery. These are women
who like sex. They are confident
in their bodies. Still, at the same
time these women empower
themselves, they are limited.
While Miller and Rodriguez
play with male gaze, they want
to titillate their audience with
these women's bodies. They avoid
some sexisms and fall hopelessly
into others. In short, they want
to have their cake and to eat it,
too. We have to think about that
contradiction. This is not en ccn-

demn nor defend the series. This
is just to think about that conflict,
because of how important it is in
today's culture.
The death of Lauren Bacall,
who starred alongside Hum-
phrey Bogart, throws the influ-
ence of film noir into sharp relief.
Haven't we all wanted to sit smug
as hell in a wreath of cigarette
smoke, in the slants of light com-
ing through the window shades?
Can't we brood in the shadows?
If only to put our noir "hats" back
on, "A Dame to Kill For" might be
worth the trip. For me, thinking
backonhowgoodtheoriginal"Sin
City" was, and how lousy this one
is as an example of noir - it's just
denressinz.

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