Saturday, April 02, 2005
Step Away From My Woman Clive!
Step Away From My Woman Clive!
Yes, that was me in line for Sin City yesterday afternoon, behind the Two Gentlemen of Leisure. Couple of advance men for Night Train Express Brotherhood trying to haggle with She of the Deeply Incised Mascara who sits like an Archangel behind the bullet-impeding glass, guarding the entry into Odeon Paradise with a flaming sword.
I genuinely love these guy's patter. Love it in line at the store, on the “el”, anywhere...as long as I’m not in a big hurry. One flick, one showing, one ticket –- transactions do not get simpler than this -- and yet somehow in the hands of these freelance capitalists it becomes a vast and complex financial undertaking, full of Subtlety Implication and Dark Design. With raw poetry like this always humming in the background, no secret that David Mamet came out of Chicago.
And outrage. Through some slurred and delightfully non-linear turns of the verbal cards, somehow, someway, they always march away talking loudly of their Outrage. How they been cheated. Ominous overtones of racism. Enemies Everywhere.
Which is not to say that Chicago isn’t positively saturated with racial politics and racism, but it’s A Fucking Movie Ticket!
And then of course, I get to the window and ask for “One Adult” and give She Of The Wild Eyebrows the Secret Caucasian Hand Signal and get in for free.
Yeah baby! It's all true! Then comes the free popcorn – fresh, with Real Butter and not the packing peanuts and 40 Weight they fob off on the low born – and free Sour Patch Kids. Then the free soda, of coffee, or perhaps Sir would like a little Irish with his coffee? Then the complimentary blowjob administered by expert twin red-headed college student interns. Oh so solicitous! So many little extras that I almost miss the movie.
Which would have been a shame, ‘cause after a rough start, it’s pretty good. 110% fidelity to the Graphic Novels on which it’s based; rotoscoped and CGI-ed into a pure black-and-white-and-silver proxy of a human world, with little splashes of color accenting and umlauting the story. Or stories. There are three of them. With Tarantino attached to the project, of course there are.
It wasn’t noir, really. It was hyper-noir, hyper-patter. Not the verbal dazzle of a Jim Thompson, or Dashiell Hammett. No Raymond Chandler here, with a script by William Faulkner. If you're expecting Bogie and Bacall lighting up the screen with electric verbal dueling, sexual tension and betrayal, or a Fat Man and his gang killing and bribing their way to the Black Bird, forget about it.
This is the pitiless hell of rich child rapists, corrupt Cardinals and murdering Senators. Justice and injustice both meted out with sledgehammers and razor-wire. Every cliché phrase boiled out of every Spillane and Spillane-imitator, amped up and Writ Large.
And Lots and Lots and Lots of VO Narration.
For the first 10 minutes I kept waiting for the Big Wink to the audience, that what was going on on-screen was really just a pulp writer’s first draft of a True Crime Novel that was being knocked out on deadline. That we’ll fade into the Real Story of the writer being unhappy with the already-chewed-gum feel of his character’s dialogue any minute now.
Uh, not so much. Then I relaxed and let the movie be what it was, and ended up rather liked it. Not loving it, but I liked the look of it, the particular comic book rules of physics and dialogue that you have to pick up in context as you go along. I liked Marv. And ever since Bruce Willis decided to give up Smirking and take up Acting, I’ve liked him too.
There’s also a slice of dialogue in there by Powers Booth about the Power of the Lie. That once you can get people to believe some shit that they know just ain’t so, you’ve got ‘em by the balls. In a couple of short, slashing paragraphs, he articulates with blazing clarity a deep truth about human nature that also bears directly on the state of Fundamentalism-cum-Conservativism-cum-The-Neutered-Press is in America.
Bush is a Wise and Sober Leader.
Iraq had nothing to do with Oil.
Greeted as Liberators.
Social Security Needs to be “Liberated” too.
Creationism is Science.
Small Government Fundamentalism
Make your own list. Bet it’s a long one.
When everyone’s livelihood is bound up in servicing the Lie, people will do absolutely anything to make sure the Truth in any shape or form is beaten to jelly and kept locked in a cage. They don’t dare let it out. Because is they don’t shoot it in the head every time it pops up, the whole rotten house of cards comes down, down, down.
So, good flick. If I want the “Big Sleep”, I have it on DVD. If I want intricate street-patter, I’ll rent “Glengarry Glen Ross” or listen to the hustlers on the “el” talk college kinder out of their book money.
Also any day I can see the Bodacious Rosario Dawson tricked out in bondage gear and going Full Dominatrix is a Very Good Day indeed.