Saturday, April 02, 2005


It's been a while since I put up a movie review on this site but the movie I saw tonight deserves special mention. The movie in question is the film adaptation of Frank Miller's Sin City. In one word the movie can be described as - amazing. This is pulp noir at it's best. People who liked the likes of Pulp Fiction or the Kill Bill Saga will love this one to the core. Robert Rodriguez acts as a painter of the cinematic medium. Like last year's Hero, this movie too is not shot but skillfully drawn by a painter with a vision that was unseen by many. The plot is dark, the execution is gory but the overall product is delectable with a capital D. The violence, like Kill Bill, is over dramatized to keep the mind clean. So for lovers of cinema - go and watch this straight away ... and to those who still don't care - the movie boasts of one of the best ensembles in recent times with everyone from - Bruce Willis, Elijah Wood, Jessica Alba, Clive Owen, Josh Hartnett, Britney Murphy, Benicio Del Toro, Rosario Dawson and Mickey Rourke (who I think was brilliant in this movie). GO watch it. It's beautiful fun ...

What! You liked 'Hero'? Don't tell me!
And 'Requiem for a Dream' still remains the definitive film noir for me.
'Kill Bill' was outrageous and downright silly - with all that 'chick' power, even Drew Barrymore could have kicked some major ass!
i agree. kill bill was a bad rip off. thrills, chills and spills, but thats about it. artistic content : 0. quentin is yet to surpass pulp fiction, and my own feeling is that he had just one GREAT film in him. ya, reservoir dogs is good, but not great. for noir, my favorite of all time is "third man". its an old film, but i have not seen anything better. and even if orson welles shows up for only 20 minutes or so, its the best 20 minutes of orson welles i have seen on film.
@biplab and anon - Well, I dint exactly like Hero as a movie (read this) but I totally admired it as a visual experience. I have always stated that if people are not using the cinematic strength of the film medium then the whole thing could have been a book or play instead. The visual aspect of ciema offers a dimension that other formats don't and people should use it. In that respect Hero was a pioneer by venturing into areas which were hitherto unknown. That's the same reason I loved Sky Captain and now Sin City does the same thing. However, unlike Hero, visuals apart, Sin City is still entertaining courtesy the non-linear story format (something I admire) and the unabashed cockyness. As far as Kill Bill is concerned (specially part II) I still think that it was brilliant - the man made mincemeat out of film conventions but did them in a brilliant way. Here was a guy poking fun at B-grade revenge dramas without making a spoof out of them and I loved it. Incidentally, I'm kind of a moderist when it comes to films - so I don't watch too many black and white movies and I kow that some of the best noir pieces were made then. The explanation would be to long and boring - so moi shall no give it :)
ok, first of all, i dont think that quentin was "poking fun" at b-grade movies. rather, he was "paying tribute" to them. but hey, isnt that always his shtick? ho hum, lets move on.

if you are a fan of the visual experience, then you should definitely watch the following movies :
kubrick : 2001 (preferably on big screen), barry lyndon, clockwork orange
tarkovsky : stalker, solaris
renoir : the river (color, mind you, and recently released on the criterion label)
marker : sans soleil
godard : woman is a woman
etc etc

finally, if you strike out b&w films, you miss some of the most important films of the last century, films by ray, kurosawa, ozu, capra, wilder, kubrick, godard, truffaut, etc etc. i know time is finite and you have to narrow the field, but man, please please dont use such arbitrary dividing lines. if you are interested in the craft, you cannot, cannot, i repeat, cannot, rule out b&w films. see that profile shot from below of sterling hayden in "dr. strangelove" puffing at his cigar? or the gorgeous opening shots of "manhattan"? not possible to convey that power in color, i am afraid.
@anon - very very informative i must say. i agree to the fact that tarantino was indeed paying homage to those movies (no wonder he took David Carradine) but he was poking fun at the medium too (the whole Pai Mei bit or the whole Lucy Liu army bit). That's what I like abt Tarantino - he has a sense of humor hen it comes to his own work - remember the nomenclature concept in Reservoir Dogs?

Well, I agree that there are several b&w classics nd I completely agree that they are greats BUT on a personal note I thik that there is ample amount of modern classics (and classics need not be serious dark movies alone - to me Fish Called Wanda is as big a classic as Pulp Fiction is) that I'm yet to watch. So, given my love for modernism I try to catch them firt BUT yes - the older films (specially Orson Welles's works) are on my list too.

I also agree that Kubrick is another dazzling story teller when it comes to my efinition of modern cinema but I am yet to watch all his works. Similarly, I feel two other visually brilliant modern film makers are Scorcese and Tim Burton (terribly underrated) and I am yet to finish all their movies. So, the graduate student is indeed trying to keep up with his movie watching habits :)
I cant wait to see it dude ! I saw the trailer and I was like... whoa !! I absolutely loved Hero and Kill Bill. And Sky Capt.

I cant wait to see Sin City !!
the disadvantage of being a modernist is that you attribute pioneer status to films which are anything but pioneers. for instance, non-linear narrative goes back at least to "citizen kane" or kubrick's "the killing" (what a noir film!!!). and before mtv popularized the jump cut (and our very own ram gopal verma and mani ratnam went to town with it - ugggggghhhhhh, yuck, where do i begin?) and other editing techniques, the french new wave had explored all its myriad possibilities. the importance of black and white cinema is that the nuances of lighting are ever more subtle in that medium, and a good director has to be that much more of a visual artist to truly bring the medium to life. see marker's "la jette" for instance. one of my favorite directors is guru dutt. compare his b/w films with rgv's for sheer visual impact, and it is not hard to see who is the winner. ok, this is just my humble opinion, but discussions around film always get me going :):):)
would be fun to know what your favorite films/directors are. perhaps, then i could understand where you are coming from better.
Just a passing comment - somehow, I've stopped making comparisions when it comes to movies, music and any artistic form in general.

I mean, you really can't choose between a Peter Jackson and a Ray - both genres redefine art in their own ways - holistically. Prolly the same would go for Joe Satriani and Jimi Hendrix, or a Van Gogh and a Monet.

And yes, Sagnik, I agree, films lend that totally unique dynamic dimension aside from the artistic sense. That's why I hate these multiplexes of today. I mean, you folks from Calcutta remember how fucking HUGE the Lighthouse of old used to be. These dorks just "had' to rape the hall!!! Grmmph Grmmph!
@Vignesh - yes dude - go watch it!

@Biplab - yes man! not only did they mess those halls but then they made a garments store on the ground floor of the theater - nahiiiin!!

@Anon - ok! please mention your name and what you do - coz you have amazing knoweldge of movies and i admire that! i cant be your fan without knowing what brand you are and whether you adorn the ceiling or the floor :))

Ok! My fav directors and in no particular order are:

1. Scorsese - the guy made Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and Raging Bull - he has an amazing mix of theater and cinema - plus has an unparalleled vision.

2. Tarantino - pure madness and he writes scripts which can be read as entertaining stories on their own .

3. Spielberg - Ok! Not too many people will add him on their list of directors but I will coz rarely do you see someone so versatile - the same guy made E.T., Schindler's List and Jurrasic Park - brilliant.

4. I like Guy Ritchie too - though his resume reads 1 great movie, 1 excellent movie, 1 terrible movie and 1 excellent short. Bottomline, the guy has style.

As far as my fav movies are concerned there are way too many to name but I'd say the list will be like - Reservoir Dogs, Snatch, Fish Called Wanda, Schindler's List, American Beauty, Dumb and Dumber, Kill Bill 2, Toy Story II, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, ...

I'm pretty sure that ur taste is very diff from mine and yes I agree that Guru Dutt was a visual master and one of the rare directors who made movies straight from the heart.
anon here - well, actually i'm from kolkata too. i have been out of that city for far too long (more than 10 years now and counting) to remember, but what was that cinema hall by the corner of lindsey street and the road connecting lindsey and sudder street? was that lighthouse or new empire? jeez, can i still call myself a calcashian? either way, my enduring memory of watching films in kolkata would have to be three mindbending (at that time!) films i watched at that cinema hall - "3 million years b.c.", "bram stoker's dracula" (which i went to TWICE, second time with a flame just to make out ;););) - what can you do, i am talking of kolkata in the early 90s), and "the deep". fell HARD for jacqueline bisset. what a babe!
ok, of the directors you mentioned, the only one that would figure in my favorites list would be scorcese. actually my favorite scorcese film is his first one with de niro. its called "mean streets" and not only does it predate "taxi driver" and "raging bull" (naturally) but its also visually the most hallucinatory film i think he made. de niro and harvey keitel are small-time hoodlums in new york city, and keitel is constantly trying to get the brash de niro off the hook. amazing film. i have not been impressed with his 80s and 90s output however. his 70s stuff is still the BEST. i remember in the mid-90s, when star movies was still alive and showing good films, they had a de niro week, where they showed yet another scorcese film with de niro called "the king of comedy". ok film, not as good as "mean streets" though.
@anon - wow! making out in Kol halls :) that' adventureous :)
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