Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For

Keeping the Bar Exactly Where the Fuck It Is

It's not the greatest film ever made, but it's diverting, which makes it unusual enough to praise.
Reported on 4th of January, 2015

In the never to be published 2013 round up, I created The Scott. Someday you may read about it. Especially if you continue for one more sentence. Here we are. Three more sentences, including this one. The Scott, named after Mr. Tony Scott, is the award for the film that does the surprisingly difficult: being pretty good, like all of Mr. Scott’s (not Sir Scott’s) film do. This award is way better than all the other awards ever because it is temporally neutral. That means that the Scott can go to more than one film per year (and in the case of 2011, less than negative one), and they have exactly the same value. Regular awards assume that there are five films per year are good enough to be nominated, and one of those is better than the other ones. Think about it. That would be like if the news came out every day no matter what, instead of when something worth reporting actually happened.

Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For

29 August 2014 @ The Cineworld Brighton

$13.00 or, if one must be prosaic, and one must... 
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆


The best way to describe a Scott Award Winner? It’s the kind of movie that you would never put in your Netflix queue, but that you would watch all the way through when it comes on TV. Curious given the number of Russian documentaries and Cannes’ best hand wringing award winners that are in that queue, and yet don’t get watched. In a way, these may be the most profitable films of all time, in that people never TiVo them, but instead accidentally sit all the way through them, commercials and all. Maybe we hate them for the trance they put us in, and rent the others for the fact that we don’t have to fret about liking them very much.

I wish such a trance upon you with one of the The Scott winners this year: Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For. Reading the reviews after the fact, I realized that there was some idea that Mr. Robert Rodriguez’s first version, Sin City, was considered radical in some way. When I saw it, I just didn’t like it much, you know, as a movie. There’s a lot of visual gee-gaw, sure. But it’s really only the first story with Mr. Mickey Rourke as an unapologetically ugly bad-ass lover of women that had any resonance. Plus the fact that divided stories in full-length films rarely works, and this film wasn’t especially rarely.

And finally, it taught me, never listen to the critics under any circumstances. Intersections of taste are as random as the intersections that make something good.

And finally, it taught me, never listen to the critics under any circumstances. Intersections of taste are as random as the intersections that make something good.

Sin City 2 is just a more entertaining film. It’s not the greatest film ever made, but, like all Scott award winners, it’s diverting, which makes it unusual enough to praise. This is in strong opposition to the usual tack of the critical community: praising the unusual. Its success, for the most influential representative of the voting committee for The Scott, has to do with the way it doesn’t do anything new, just many things well. Though you can read about the irksome consequences of ‘raising the bar’ in the surprisingly related Interstellar, we’re going to define what that means here for a movie that that doesn’t do it. I’m trying to get you click through. It can’t be for the revenue. I don’t know. Maybe I get more hit points or something.

Raising the bar, what does that mean other than than the obvious? The term struck home while inexplicably listening to the commentary on Jurassic Park III. Inexplicably because I never listen to the commentary tracks on DVDs, as I remain convinced that the last people who know what a film are about are the filmmakers themselves. I was compelled to do so for JPIII, possibly the most fun of all the parks, and classic example of a Scott winner. The commentary had two things going for it: 1) it was by the people who did the special effects, as the filmmakers and actors didn’t want to go anywhere near it. This should say something about JPIII, as there is director commentary for even the most Cowboys and Aliens and 88 Minutes of films.

Secondly, the film famously had no script on the first day of shooting and I wanted to hear all about how the hell you improvise an FX dependent film. In the fatuous way of never wanting to say that anything stupid or bad happens along the way of making movies, the various commenteurs never broach this subject. That would have been fun. Nevertheless, they did discuss how the animatronic puppet velororaptors had to match their CGI counterparts in the same shot. I have a soft spot in my heart for practical effects. The new build it all in post philosophy we see in films like Return of The Hacks Who Make Films About Apes, or even someone like Mr. David Fincher who is willing to move a light flare slightly to the left to emphasize that this character is an idiot and should have just been better written, fills me with all the thrills of a status bar. There’s something to said about the balance struck in Jurassic Park III, and there are still films that manage do this, like All You Need Is Kill.

But what I remember in particular was the way in which the collected make-up and computer modellers kept talking about ‘raising the bar’, in this case, the CGI was so good, it raised the bar for the physical effects, which in turn raised the bar and so one. I would suggest for you to play the ‘raise the bar’ drinking game listening to this nonsense, but you would be dead in the matter of a minute. Unless you were Nietzsche of course. That’s a reference to the original piece here. Not my best work. Should have left in drunk Nietzsche.

Watching this film made me long for porno theaters. So I could actually have a place to get some writing done.

And so Hollywood remains a world more interested in raising the bar that making something fun, and that’s too bad. The best way to understand Sin City two-o-gy is that the first did raise the bar, so it didn’t necessarily have to be good. Neither did the second one; this is not a requirement for film, just a coincidence. Given my distaste for the computer generated, you could also make the argument that any Sin City film falls under the pixelated. Being entirely a cartoon, though, it makes about as much attempt to be real as Homer Simpson might falling down a mountain. What? No one could draw something real while falling down a mountain. It’s not possible. Unless it was in a cartoon of course.

Also strongly in its favor, in the UK Sin City 2 was rated 18, which is the equivalent of an X. In the first two minutes, Mr. Mickey Rourke beats some college kids to death for setting winos on fire, then leads the others to old town so they’ll be killed by amazon death women. Besides offering nothing not to like, I suddenly realized I had found a place that they actually wouldn’t let in screaming children. It ain’t gonna last, as concerned mums will either ban films that are good, or simply do what they do now, which is make sure their children can see them, since they should be allowed anywhere, feel victimized and then ban them for everyone else. Watching this made me long for porno theaters. So I could actually have a place to get some writing done.

But in the meantime, thank God that there’s still a level of violence that won’t get a PG-13. The rating was no doubt in part due to the copious amount of boobies on display, but that itself is hardly a bad thing in the age of New Puritanism. But there’s some pulpy meat in this film too. One of the things I like about genre is the way in which it’s better able to offer insight into what people do in extreme, nay, ridiculous circumstances. There’s a beautiful moment as Mr. Josh Brolin embroils himself into his relationship with Mlle. Eva Green, explaining in voice over that he’s too smart to be fooled again, as we watch him unhesitantly succumb. It’s the kind of fun and believable interior conflict that you wouldn’t find in those films at the top of your queue.

Could the dialog use a bit of polish and wit? Sure. Maybe some scenes could be shorter, and some moments emphasized. Mr. Joseph Gordon Levitt’s story, for example, had potential for real impact on the rest of the characters and their trajectories, and remains possibly wasted opportunity. But I wasn’t bored. I won’t buy it, but I’ll probably see it one more time. I even know how.

The Take

Boobies! @ $0.30 per boobie.
Number of heads cut of by four sided pinwheel knife move @ $1.00 per head
Here’s something weird. Nancy, as a fuck-up and a drunk, is more of a character than the damsel she was in her previous incarnation. With Ms. Green, does this mean that Sin City 2 is empowering for women? Sure. Why not?
Total Profits
The polish it needed to be great. But then it wouldn’t have won the Scott.
Total Losses


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