Tag Archives: Sin City

Colorful noir emerges in “The Big Bang” trailer

The general consensus amongst film scholars is that film noir begins with The Maltese Falcon and ends with Touch of Evil, with the latter marking a transition into the so-called neo-noir stage. Since then the visual iconography, motifs, and archetypes of noir have been propelled into the future and re-appropriated into “new” scenarios. Such a scenario appears in a trailer for The Big Bang, which also incorporates an unexpectedly vibrant color scheme.

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Steampunk and Sin City imagery combine in “Eye of the Storm”

It’s great when you get to see various styles and themes re-appropriated in a way that’s breathtaking. The following contains elements of steampunk imagery combined with the visuals of Sin City. The music video features a slow melodic tune from musician Ben Lovett. Witness the video to “Eye of the Storm”…

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Robert Rodriguez directs short film The Black Mamba

Director of Sin City Robert Rodriguez just made a short film for Nike featuring Kobe Bryant, along with cameos from previous Rodriguez collaborators – and it’s awesome. Continue reading

“Cigarette Girl” sells sex and boredom

Cigarette Girl: you could watch it for a cool credit sequence and to ogle the nearly naked Cori Dials (playing the Cigarette Girl), but you’re better off re-watching Sin City than this Walmart bargain-bin piece of cinema.  The acting’s bad, the story isn’t nearly as cool as it could have been (dystopia where smokers are put in ghettos and cigarettes cost $60+), and the lead character just seems like an object for sexualization and violent fantasies.

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“The Last Rites of Ransom Pride” Require Some Ass Kicking

When one of a film’s advertised attractions is a dwarf dual wielding sawed off shotguns, it’s your own fault if you’re expecting Gone With the Wind.  With this B-Movie expectation at the foreground, Pride is an action road film that will intrigue and entertain with its carnival of crazy.

Ransom Pride is just like any Western thug–a drinker and a killer, his whole life pulled from Sergio Leone’s notebooks.  So when he finally bites a bullet, his brother Champ (Jon Foster) and his girl Juliette (Lizzy Caplan) are the only people ready to retrieve his body from a Mexican voodoo lady pissed that Ransom happened to kill her priest brother.  However, Champ’s father, Reverend Pride (Dwight Yoakam), would rather see Juliette dead before he allows his other son to be tempted by the same wicked beauty that led Ransom to the dark side.

The Last Rites of Ransom Pride is a good old fashioned piece of sex and violence cinema, channeling the visual and narrative tones of Sin City and Grindhouse.  Black and white flashbacks flesh out the history of Ransom and Juliette’s relationship and lines like, “Which one of you sorry motherfuckers wants breakfast in hell first?” make it difficult not to roar “YEAH!” with a ferocious affirmation of the film’s badassery.  Even though Juliette’s a beauty, it doesn’t come at the expense of her skills as a shooter, brawler, and the film’s toughest character.

When the film isn’t shooting someone every ten minutes, the appearance of Kris Kristofferson (a fiend who helps the Reverend), Peter Dinklage (the shotgun toting dwarf), and Jason Priestly (a disgusting pervert), make up only some of the characters you can look forward to loving or loathing.

Beyond just the pleasure gleaned from a loyalty tale riddled with bullets, the story’s setting makes it a unique piece of Western cinema.  The year is 1910 and when you first see Ransom Pride gunning down treacherous traders with a semi-automatic pistol, you know this isn’t the West of the Man With No Name.  An old sidecar motorcycle and the Reverend Pride’s car all call out this place as an in-between region; a West still not completely tame, but with the modern world lurking behind the vistas…

The film does fall on some hard times, though: When Champ wears a thick bandanna around his head during the first half of the film, you wonder if he suffered a head wound you forgot about or time travelled to 1984 where he could be influenced by The Karate Kid.*

Also, the jarring montage of violent frames at the end of action scenes, providing “visual summaries” of the events just witnessed, prove redundant.  Toss in the almost subliminal flashes that bombard the film for nothing more than visual flourishes (think of the lens flare abuse in Star Trek) and it makes you want to climb into the projectionist booth and perform some celluloid surgery.

A Western that features a female badass and a concoction of cultural objects entrenched within and outside of the genre’s mythos make it notable and surreal, respectively.  Though I find some of the editing nutty and the denouement lacks an epic-ness common to Westerns, if a bunch of friends wanted to see a movie that allowed us to geek out about some bad-movie awesomeness, I’d recommend The Last Rites of Ransom Pride.

*Though Reverend accuses him of looking like an Apache, in an effort I believe to explain the choice of headgear, his comment is made too late to squash The Karate Kid thoughts.  Plus, after losing the bandana, he begins wearing an equally ridiculous do-rag.

The Boys Are Back

About this time of year you have two types of films at the cinema: Oscar Bait and Left Overs.  The first is self-explanatory, the latter is a reference to film distributors releasing their “What the hell do we do with this?” selection between the drama filled fall/winter season and the heavyweight blockbusters of summer.

The Boys Are Back is the Oscar Bait.  Joe Warr (Clive Owen) has recently lost his wife, Katy (Laura Fraser), to cancer.  In the wake of her death, Joe must navigate his relationship with his six-year old son, Artie, and Harry, his son from a previous marriage.

Adapted from Simon Carr’s memoir The Boys Are Back In Town, this tale of a single father juggling home life and his career avoids gender clichés reminiscent of Mr. Mom.  Intriguing is Joe’s “just say yes” parenting style.  In Joe’s house, basic rules such as no swearing, no real fighting, etc. are in place, but Joe drives his 4×4 on the beach with Artie on the hood, sonorous with glee.  He even has water balloon fights – brace yourself – in the house!  If anything, the film’s representation of child rearing that encourages dangerous fun and large doses of freedom  makes it worth a viewing.

Further, as there have been few dramas, but plenty comedies, that focus on male single parents, the film is important for showing male homosocial relationships.*

The unfortunate part of the film is how many relationships are juggled.  Joe is dealing with grief, Artie, and then Harry.  One or even two of these alone could fill a film, but throw in that third ingredient and the film produces so-so results.  Knowing that the film is an adaptation of a book puts this in perspective, as it is definitely structured in a free-flowing way.  By the end you’re not really sure if Joe has really learned anything about his sons or even about himself.

The big pull for this film (if you didn’t figure it out by the film’s poster) is Clive Owen’s star power.  Even I’ll admit, as a fan of Sin City and Children of Men, Owen’s involvement is what pulled me to The Boys Are Back.  Many have stated that Owen’s performance is Oscar worthy and if I were the type of person who didn’t loath the Oscars, I’d like to say the same.  However, Owen does a good job, but is stymied by the film’s lack of focus.

Like so many films flaunting their accolades from the critics and festivals, this isn’t the best movie out now (I’d recommend The Road or Up In the Air), but it isn’t bad either.

*The only other films about male single parents that I can think of include Jersey Girl (2004), Evelyn (2002), and even The Road counts, but isn’t light like the others.

Other Recommendations:

Finding Neverland