Sin City 2: the hunt for Ava Lord continues…

ava lord picHaving recently read Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For I’m pretty clued up on the story – not that the film will stick exactly to the graphic novel, but one can assume it will fairly closely.

So what’s it about?
Without spoiling it too much I’ll just say the events of the graphic novel take place before the first Sin City film. So this is, in a sense, a prequel that largely focuses on Dwight, but also brings in two new stories, written by Miller exclusively for the film.

The story begins with Dwight working as a private eye/photographer, saving a hooker from getting shot by a client. That night he gets a call out the blue from Ava Lord, the dame, asking for help out of her marriage, claiming her husband abuses her.

Ava and Dwight used to be an item and he wants nothing to do with her. However, unable to sleep that night, he decides to investigate her claims. From there Dwight’s life goes straight to hell as it’s clear Ava is playing a deadly game, one which Dwight is determined to win – with the help of Marv and the girls from Old Town.

dennis haysbert manute sin cityNew cast members
In terms of the cast, we’ve got some new additions. In this storyline Ava has a bodyguard of sorts, Manute. An imposing and menacing figure, played by Michael Clarke-Duncan in the first film, who sadly passed away last year. He’s been replaced with Dennis Haysbert, who some of you might remember as President David Palmer in TV show 24 – an excellent choice, he’ll make a great Manute.

The increasingly ubiquitous Joseph Gordon-Levitt is on board as new character, Johnny, a cocky gambler with a mission of his own. Christopher Meloni – most recently seen as Roman, head of the vampire authority in the recent season of True Blood – will have a supporting role.

josh brolin as dwight sin cityMost interestingly though, Josh Brolin has signed up as Dwight. To explain, during the events of A Dame to Kill For, Dwight gets severely injured and has surgery to alter his appearance – thus allowing Clive Owen to play him in the first film and Brolin in this one. Brolin’s getting a bit of a reputation for playing younger versions of characters – having already played an unerringly accurate version of a youthful Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black III. He’s an outstanding actor and will clearly bring a lot to Dwight’s character.

Still no dame!
The beautiful, curvy, seductive temptress has yet to be cast. Either that or she’s been cast and Rodriguez is keeping extremely quiet. I doubt that though, in this modern internet age. With original choice Angelina Jolie more than likely out the picture, smart money is still on one of these three, probably in this order: Marion Cotillard ava lord sin city 2Rose McGowan, Salma Hayek, Rachel Weisz. My choice would be Weisz – she’s never played a seductive temptress but instinct tells me she’d astonish us.

Although if you’d like a shopping list of sultry and seductive femme fatales that could potentially play Ava, look no further than IMDb. They’ve compiled an enticing list of ladies.

Eva Green or Vera Farmiga would be really interesting choices. Or Marion Cotillard as an outside bet? She’s certainly seductive and exotic and a dame worth killing for! Who would you like to play her?

Sin City 2: So who’s the dame?

jessica alba

Imagine the scenario. It’s been seven years since the first Sin City and the wheels are finally in motion for the follow up, however Rodriguez’s patience is wearing thin. Word is that cameras started rolling a few days ago, yet there are still parts to be cast. Myself – like many fans – were probably wondering why it’s taken seven years.

I suppose Miller’s failure with The Spirit meant he had to ‘take a break’ for a few years, at least until a studio were willing to back him again. I’m not sure I entirely buy that as sole reason for delay. Rodriguez directed the original and I’m sure he’ll be directing this one, particularly since his Barbarella remake stalled. Miller’s role has always been the script and – to a degree – the casting. So who knows why it’s taken this long. Best not dwell, let’s look at the story.

a dame to kill forA dame worth killing for
In terms of plot, the story takes place after the death of Hartigan but before some of the events of the first film. The story focuses on Dwight, who takes revenge on a woman who betrayed him, Ava Lord, the Dame.

At the same time, Nancy is trying to come to terms with the death of Hartigan (Bruce Willis), the man who saved her from Yellow Bastard in the first film.

In terms of script Miller has not been idle. He’s spent time ensuring there are no loose plot strands and that both films will mesh together effectively. With William Monahan, Oscar winning script-writer for The Departed, assisting on the final draft.

Last call for casting
Goldie (Jaime King) is on board and we’ve got a new deadly, little Miho (Jamie Chung). This is encouraging as Miho is meant to have a bigger part in A Dame to Kill For and Jamie Chung (Sucker Punch) is a bit of an up-and-coming actress.

jessica albaUsual suspects are all back: Marv (Mickey Rourke), skinny little Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba), Bob (Michael Madsen), Gail (Rosario Dawson), and of course Dwight (Clive Owen). Dwight’s character undergoes facial surgery in this storyline, so it’s possible there will be another actor playing Dwight pre-surgery.

Sadly, actors Michael Clarke Duncan and Brittany Murphy passed away in the seven years between these two films. Their characters, Manute and Shellie, will have to be replaced and have yet to be cast.

So who will play Ava Lord?
Rodriguez and Miller’s original choice Angelina Jolie – whom I’ve spoken about in the past – is out of the picture, tied up with Disney’s Maleficent. She’s clearly going to be brilliant in that, but it is a kid’s film. She was born to play the ultimate femme fatale.

As a fan of Angie I reserve the right to act like a toddler and stamp my foot and demand she quits and heads straight to Rodriguez’s studio in Texas. Sadly it’s not going to happen.

Sin City 2She smells like angels ought to smell
Actresses that have their names in the hat to play Ava Lord include Salma Hayek, Rose McGowan and Rachel Weisz. For me, the latter is the most interesting. She’s never really played a full-on, seductive temptress but I think she’d be outstanding. Salma Hayek would slip pretty effortlessly into the role – anyone that’s seen her snake dance in Dusk Till Dawn would agree.

However, I have a feeling the role will go to Rose McGowan. For me, she’s the biggest unknown in terms of whether she’ll excel as Ava Lord. Whoever it ends up being, I’m sure they’ll be a revelation. We just need to wait 11 months to find out!

Mickey Rourke: A Rumble Fish born in the wrong century

rumble fish bar scene

For this post I’d like to offer my thoughts on Francis Ford Coppola’s Rumble Fish and how Mickey Rourke seems to be ‘born in the wrong time period’, no matter what film he’s in.

matt dillon francis ford coppola

Released in 1983 and filmed largely in black and white, it tells the story of Matt Dillon’s ‘Rusty James’, a young hot-headed wannabe gang leader, killing time at home waiting for ‘something to happen’ and trying to fill his brother’s shoes, Mickey Rourke’s ‘Motorcycle Boy’.

That’s largely it in terms of plot and story as far as I could tell. What the film does offer, is art and style. Indeed, it is incredibly stylised, Coppola’s aim at the time was to make ‘an art film for young people’, an interesting notion. Something with artistic merit rather than commercial. It does have a wonderful dreamlike quality, beautiful to look at, but perhaps not for everyone.

What stood out for me?
Firstly, the opportunity to see up-and-coming actors before they became A-list: Matt Dillon (he has never looked cooler, his most impressive role to date?), Nic Cage (bit wooden, but then it helps if you’re related to the Director), Chris Penn and Laurence Fishburne (both underused), Diane Lane (to be seen as Martha Kent in Zack Snyder’s forthcoming Superman film, Man of Steel), and last but not least, Mickey Rourke.

Which brings me on to my second point, the mystery that is Mickey Rourke. Ah Mickey, you were so pretty back then, why turn to boxing? Until now, I’ve only ever seen him during his renaissance ‘post-boxing’ period, films such as Spun, The Wrestler and Sin City.  His character in Rumble Fish – Motorcycle Boy – is mesmerising. Softly spoken (you can barely hear him at times), wise beyond his years, a dreamer. His relationship with Dillon’s Rusty James is complex. You really feel for Rusty James, wanting his brother’s approval, following him around like a lost puppy. Watch the clip below to get an idea of the dynamic between the two.

Watching this film, I was struck by the DNA it shares with Sin City in terms of style. Use of colour, shots from different angles and perspectives. Obviously there’s a 22 year gap between the two, but my point stands. Particularly at the end, where Motorcycle Boy wants to set the fish free in the river.

Born in the wrong century
Almost sounds like a Springsteen song doesn’t it? I am of course, referring to the title of this post – I get there in the end! There’s a great scene between Dennis Hopper’s ‘Father’ and his sons, Rusty James and Motorcyle Boy.

rumble fish bar scene

Hopper describes Motorcycle Boy in the following way, ‘And neither, contrary to popular belief, is your brother crazy. He’s merely miscast in a play. He was born in the wrong era, on the wrong side of the river… with the ability to be able to do anything that he wants to do and findin’ nothin’ that he wants to do…’

A similar thing occurs in Sin City, Clive Owen’s character, Dwight, describes Rourke’s character, Marv, in much the same way, ‘Most people think Marv is crazy. He just had the rotten luck of being born in the wrong century. He’d be right at home on some ancient battlefield swinging an axe into somebody’s face. Or in a Roman arena, taking his sword to other gladiators like him…’

Maybe Mickey just likes to play rough and ready characters. Those with inner anger, tightly coiled rage, hidden depths, big hulking brutes with a heart of gold. Who knows. Either way, I am glad I saw Rumble Fish and some of his early work.

More to come from him in the future I hope. Until next time…