Last week, my comparison of True Detective was to Frank Miller and I realized that, hey, maybe I should revisit Sin City, just in case.
The very thought of doing so wasn’t irritating and so that was a good sign. I took it off the shelf and put it in the player and settled in. One of the things I had forgotten is the percentage of the movie made up of voice-over monologues. It’s somewhere around “all of it”. (A bit of an overstatement, but I doubt it’s lower than 50%.)
In True Detective, of course, the monologue voiceover trick was achieved by the device of there being an interview going on and the visuals flash back to the time being described. Or the less tricky trick of just asking “Rust, what do you think about religion?” and then sitting back for 3 minutes. Sin City doesn’t bother. They just show someone smoking a cigarette and go for the voiceover.
Now, one thing that only now occurs to me: the importance of a cigarette for a good closing scene.
Step 1: Inhale smoke.
Step 2: Devastating Sentence
Step 3: Exhale smoke.
Now, when it comes down to the quality of storytelling, there are a lot of different things going on. Sin City is about as subtle as a punch to the nose. If they want to tell you something, they come out and tell it to you. If they’re hiding something from you, they come out and say “we’re hiding something from you but, it’s cool, we’ll give you the skinny before the end of the story.” True Detective, by contrast, didn’t mind wandering down a rabbit trail or three to confuse, distract, and intrigue.
All in all, the movie doesn’t exactly hold up as a whole (that is: I wouldn’t recommend it to someone I considered “grown up”), but there are some real interesting scenes and awesome two-fisted monologues going on… but the monologue draped over a detective story seemed to be the point of Sin City when, in True Detective, they were the spice to the underlying detective story.
All that to say: I completely understand those who feel that Sin City is paper thin compared to the relatively robust True Detective… But I was surprised to find that Sin City remained every bit the guilty pleasure that it was years ago. I’m looking forward to A Dame To Kill For.
So… what are you reading and/or watching?