Sin City 2: Was it worth the wait?

Momentum is a funny thing. When graphic novelist Frank Miller first teamed up with filmmaker Robert Rodriguez in 2005, the result was Sin City. Filmed mostly on green screen, it was a dark, dirty neo-noir delight. Fit to burst with swooning dames, femme fatales and bad ass guys. Critically and commercially it was a success. And it felt fresh.

Jessica-Alba-Sin-City

What I’m getting at here is that it’s taken almost ten years to bring us the sequel. In general, Hollywood rarely lets this happen. If they’ve got a good thing going, they keep it going. However, Rodriguez operates somewhat apart from the Hollywood machine and, as such, it’s taken nigh on a decade for the pieces to fall into place and for Sin City 2 to hit the big screen.

The question is, did they lose momentum? Is it possible to recapture the gritty feel of the original? Will Miller and Rodriguez strike noir gold again? The answer, typically, is yes and no. Momentum has been lost, there’s no denying it. Had this film come out 2 or 3 years after the first one we’d probably feel rather differently. It might be looked on more favourably.

Sin City 2 Lady Gaga

The problem is that, since the release of the first film it’s taken on a bit of a cult status. A status which has grown with each passing year. Perhaps this second film will take on a similar status, but I rather doubt it.

As per the first film, A Dame To Kill For is divided into three stories. The main story – and film’s title – focuses on Dwight McCarthy (played by Clive Owen in the first film and Josh Brolin here) and his love-hate relationship with the ultimate femme fatale, Ava Lord (Eva Green).

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Angelina Jolie was originally meant to be the dame, but it didn’t work out. Perhaps for the best as Green was born to play Ava Lord. She’s pretty much been doing this sort of role most of her career anyway – and it’s not a stretch to picture her as a woman that can drive guys crazy. Seduction incarnate indeed.

Brolin does well picking up the mantle from Clive Owen. His Dwight perhaps more animalistic, less measured and more of a brute. I’m not sure he fits into Miller’s world as well as Owen did, but that’s a minor point.

sin city jgl

The second story – newly written by Miller for the film – follows Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a cocky gambler on a revenge tale of sorts. He fitted well into this world as a character and Gordon-Levitt’s performance was convincing. You’d almost wish he’d somehow featured in the first film as I’d have liked to have seen more of him.

The final story picks up after events of the first film and follows everyone’s favourite stripper, Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba). When the only man she ever loved (Hartigan, played by Bruce Willis) took his own life, Nancy fell to pieces and vowed revenge on the man responsible, corrupt Senator Roark (Powers Boothe on fine, evil form).

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For those characters that continued from the first film, Nancy has changed the most and it’s nice to see Alba have more of a role to sink her teeth into. Although in some ways it’s sad as her character was really the only pure soul in the first tale and, in this story, Basin City has finallly gotten to her. She played the part well though.

As a film, this doesn’t have the impact of the original from a storytelling point of view. The three stories don’t overlap as well as the original, nor are they as emotionally affecting. That said, as a sequel it’s a good addition and should have been made. The other characters returning – particularly Mickey Rourke’s Marv – feel like they’ve not been away at all and the actors looked like they were having a ball.

In general it’s been worth the wait. It won’t grab you as much as the original but it’s a worthy effort. Two is plenty though Mr Miller and Mr Rodriguez, we don’t need a trilogy.

And the award goes to… Michael!

the-dark-knight-rises-michael-caineBit narcissistic to trumpet one’s own name in a blog isn’t it? Well tough, I’m doing it anyway. Reason being, there’s so many brilliant Michaels in the world that it’s high time someone gathered them together and sung their praises.

Obviously the below is only a snippet of the great work Team Michael has accomplished, but it’s a strong list. From drama to comedy, superheroes to period pieces these guys have got all your entertainment needs covered.

In terms of a favourite, I’m torn between the mighty Fassbender, whose career shows no signs of letting up and hasn’t produced anything particularly close to a turkey yet, and the legend of cinema that is Michael Caine – a man who’s only one of two actors to be nominated for an Academy Award in every decade from the ’60s to the present day (the other being Jack Nicholson).

So… if your name is Michael and you’re starting out in the acting profession you’re not only in good company, but have reason to be upbeat that your career too, may follow a similar path.

Or maybe you’ll just crash and burn like Michael J. Fox. After all, it’s only a name.

Michael Keaton
Beetlejuice, Batman, Jackie Brown


Michael Douglas

Wall Street, Falling Down, Traffic, Behind The Candelabra


Michael Shannon

Revolutionary Road, Take Shelter, Man of Steel


Michael Fassbender

Fish Tank, Inglourious Basterds, Shame, 12 Years A Slave


Michael Sheen

Frost/Nixon, The Damned United, Masters of Sex


Mickey Rourke

Rumblefish, The Wrestler, Sin City


Michael Clarke Duncan

The Green Mile, Sin City


Michael Caine

The Italian Job, Get Carter, Children of Men, Harry Brown, The Dark Knight Rises

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For draws closer

It’s finally here. Well, the trailer at least. And I’m as giddy as Michael Bay who’s just been handed the keys to a set of real-life Transformers with matching explosives.

I have to say, it’s been a long wait but, now images and clips are beginning to be released, there’s grimy, noir-ish light at the end of the tunnel. Great cast too: Josh Brolin, Joseph-Gordon-Levitt, Jessica Alba, Mickey Rourke, Powers Boothe, and of course, Eva Green. The deadly dame. The femme fatale of our dreams and nightmares.

What with this film, 300: Rise Of An Empire and new TV show, Penny Dreadful, Miss Green looks set for quite a year. About time too, she’s been away too long. Anyway… without further ado, here’s the trailer and some images to fuel your desire for all things Basin City.

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marv sin city

alba sin city

jgl sin city

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…