Movie Review- Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

This movie would have been great… if not for all the ridiculously harmful stereotypes everywhere.

Content Warning: rape, misogyny, rape culture.

Not to say it’s that way for all the characters. There are empowered badasses:

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Rosario returns as the leader of the girls in Old Town. Her story is a prequel, which still works because Rosario looks like she hasn’t aged 10 minutes. Josh Brolin fills in for Clive Owen as the face-changing Dwight. He does it well, but the character doesn’t pack the same punch for me in this tale compared to the Dwight that gave Benicio Del Toro a swirly for beating up on Brittany Murphy.

My main issue with the second installment centers around this story in particular. Dwight enlists the help of Gail & Miho and Marv in order to save Eva Green’s character, Ava Lord. Lord, an ex-lover of Dwight’s, calls on him for help. She says that her husband allows his servant/butler/valet Manute (Dennis Haysbert, the All-State man, who is no Lawrence Fishburne) to rape her and abuse her, that her husband keeps won’t let her leave. Dwight, who earlier saved a prostitute from a politician, has a chivalrous streak and no reason not to believe her. So he goes in to save her, first with Marv and no guns. Dwight tells Marv the tale and gets him drunk enough to be dangerous. Marv is always looking for a reason, anyway. Dwight gets turned into Swiss cheese and calls on Gail for help. They concoct a daring scheme- which is the highlight of the flick. Finally, Dwight confronts Mr. Lord, who says, “What has my wife told you? She’s pathological. I’ve done nothing and still she spreads lies about me.” 

And it’s true.

…So the plotline of the MAIN STORY this film (and the comic) comes to be because of a woman lying about rape…

Narratives such as these have real world implications. This is a large budget movie with big name stars and the MAIN plot is a woman lying about rape. Out here in the real world, women are treated as suspects instead of victims and interrogated when facing rapists and abusers. Take for example the instance of a woman who accused a pro-athlete of rape, she immediately reported it to casino security and then filed a civil suit -she sued for false imprisonment and sexual assault and battery (among other charges)- when the media reported the charges, she was immediately dubbed a “gold digger” for her appearance, then tabloids dug in to her mental state and found anxiety, insomnia and depression. They dubbed her “nutty” -and this was post-trauma. She had mental health consequences of someone who suffered abuse and was embroiled in a court battle and yet her mental health was held as evidence that she was unstable and unreasonable. It was assumed that the victim was claiming “rape” as a way to get large sums of money. Which in the plot of SC:ADTKF was true about Ava Lord. Do you see why this portrayal is damaging?

And before all the MRA’s and naive assbags show up in my yard. Yes. I know that there are also instances of women lying about rape. Although that’s only been found to be the case in .6 percent of rape allegations. So let’s focus on the other 99.4% of the time, shall we. That vast percent where women are forced to prove their virtue, their perceived “potential” to be “real victims”, where they have to prove that they were not “asking for it” because of clothing or BAC or sexual history. Where over 50% of rapes still go unreported (largely because the victim thinks they will not be believed or that their own morality will be on trial or that the accused is too well liked and even if they believe you they won’t care. 97% of accused rapists don’t go to jail. 

So please, by all fucking means: let us have a star studded case propagating this damaging bullshit. /sarcasm

And I know “this is for adults”, which is a comment I received to my criticism of this plotline. The assbags commenting that the aforementioned woman was a “gold digger,” the reporters that treated her like shit, the security guard who told her she should “be lucky to sleep with someone like that”? Adults. Judges who say that victims are better off not reporting rape if there is not enough evidence? Adults. People who mocked a drugged and passed out 16-year old rape victim? Some of them were adults. A Florida deputy who harassed a 17 year old victim, telling her that “he owned her”? Also an adult. 

Propagating this trope to any age group is fucking dangerous and harms women who report rape.

It’s also during this story that we have 2 lazy and racist tropes: the silent Asian badass and the powerful black servant. Overused and pointless, Miho was written as silent -her vocal chords were cut in an attempt on her life, but that doesn’t make it okay. The expressionless/voiceless Asian trope rears it’s head an awful lot across all genres: notably, with Agent May on “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD”, to Lucy Liu in Charlie’s Angels, Ecks vs Sever and “Ally McBeal”, to Gwen and Avril’s Harajuku back-up dancers. And Manute’s archetype appeared most recently in “Penny Dreadful” with the character Sembene. He’s large and tough and reliable. He’s also a servant with no plotline of his own. Dwight refers to Manute as “not even human” …that’s not a good look.

Gail’s my favorite. She has agency, she fights for herself, her “girls” and her man. 

But I’m not opposed to male heroes, or anti-heroes. The dangerous Marv always drinking and looking for a fight. Always ready to ride for his friends and help out a beautiful dame. It’s cliche, but it’s well done in this case. But his last appearance in the flick seemed unnecessary. Nancy’s story made no sense. She has a good motive, she wants to avenge Hartigan, who she is haunted by. She couldn’t shoot the Senator at Kadie’s and suddenly, seemingly without reason. she chops off her hair, cuts her face, gets Marv involved and suddenly she can pull the trigger. What changed? No idea. Needless to say, she had other chances (watching the Senator through the wall as he lost at poker to Joseph Gordon-Levitt), wouldn’t the ending have been better if she shot the Senator before he offed JG-L? or if she had done it in the middle of Kadie’s and then they had to fight off a bunch of goons? Whatever. 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s plot was unnecessary as a whole. He had style and panache and his plot involved a trip to see the Doc, Christopher Lloyd, but there wasn’t enough reason for me to get emotionally invested. What was the point? to show that the Senator was a bad guy? We knew that. And JG-L is no Josh Hartnett.

Cinematically it’s bad ass. It’s stylish and gritty and Jessica Alba’s dancing is still fantastic. It needed more Rosario Dawson.

2.5 out of 5

THROWBACK ATTACK! Wolverine TPB!

Frank Miller/Chris Claremont

Wolverine #1-4 and Uncanny X-Men #172-173

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The Wolverine was (SO loosely) based on these comics. 

There’s actually far less of a segway between that stuff with the bear and Wolverine going to Japan in the source material. Also in the comics Yukio and Wolverine get close. And Wolverine doesn’t lose his regenerative powers. And the Silver Samurai is a totally different person. And there’s no nanites. And the rest of the X-Men show up. Yeah… the only thing the same is the names of people and that it is set in Japan.  

But I digress. Wolverine comes off of the mountain to see Mariko who he loves. She’s married. Her husband abuses her. Wolverine has to save her. Against her will. As the daughter of a wealthy and powerful man she is also heir to his legacy. And she is bound by tradition and honor. Stuff that the loner and berserker Wolverine wouldn’t understand. (Which his friend Osada recognizes while still saying that Wolverine is the “most Japanese Westerner he ever met” -what?!) 

After fighting her father and her father leaving Wolverine for dead, Wolvie meets Yukio. Who is more wild and slightly more agile than in the film. Wolverine and Yukio get together until Wolverine finds that she was plotting against him and in cahoots with The Hand (Japanese mafia assassins). Mariko’s half brother tries to take control of the business by becoming the Silver Samurai. Viper poisons people. But in the comics it’s Rogue who- after recently inheriting Carol Danver’s powers considers herself invulnerable- saves the lot of them. While that’s going on, an out of control Ororo makes friends with Yukio and get’s her first mohawk. 

I hadn’t read these before (spare me) and I’m glad I did. The art is simple and fantastic. Without relying on backgrounds and tech much is explained through just facial expression or hands… but Wolverine’s narration is sometimes a little much.

With Yukio’s consciousness living on in Ana Cortes and Brian Wood’s X-Men- as well as Storm’s punk rock ‘do, The Wolverine based off this collection and all the nerd points I just earned this was definitely worthwhile. Only downside is the collection ends without it all wrapped up and there’s this weird stuff with reincarnated Jean Grey mixed in but there was bound to be something since these stories spanned years. 

If the movie was more closely based on the comics it would still have barely passed the Bechdel Test but it would have, because Yukio and Storm hit it off so well. Why did Kitty cry about Storm’s haircut, though? I’m baffled.

 

ThrowBack Attack: Movie Review- Sin City

Let’s go all the way back to 2005. With a sequel looming in the future and and the fact that I just took boxes upon boxes of DVD out of storage, I figured I’d give this a rewatch.

Sin City is a fave of mine. And no, I never read the graphic novel. (But I’m not ruling out that I ever will) But like anything you’ve seen 1000 times, some parts hold their value more than others.

I still love Nancy and Hartigan

Even though it kinda creeps me that she was 11 the last time he saw her and then she’s “the love of his life.”

But I would watch the whole movie for just this scene right here:

Clive Owen is perfect. Perfect. I heard he won’t be back for the sequel. I’m infinitely bummed. 

And it’s ridiculously well done, Shelley wouldn’t let Jackie Boy in, even though Dwight kept saying he would handle it. Jackie terrifies Shelley so she sees him as more powerful (and he is more “powerful” but not physically, which Dwight doesn’t find out till too late). Jackie uses his influence and physical strength to intimidate her and she sees him as larger than he is. 

Dwight protects her, and then runs into an ex-lover while he’s on Jackie’s trail. 

Dwight and Gail 

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I mean, how badass is Rosario Dawson as Gail in this flick? As the leader of the girls in Old Town; brave, fierce, independent, violent, protective, sexy, decisive. 

She’s willing to do anything to make sure the ladies can keep control of Old Town and things don’t go back to the mob and the cops.

Dwight rescues her, but he does it on her terms. 

Gail: “What have you done?”

Dwight: “Exactly what I needed to do, every step of the way.”

All the females in this movie, except Marv’s therapist, are sex workers. Prostitutes, strippers, whatever. Not your typical love interest demographic. And no matter what you think of “the world’s oldest profession” or the girls in Old Town, isn’t it nice not to have the ultimate love interest be a virginal princess?

Well. I think it is.

Goldie’s death leads Marv on a violent quest to avenge her.

A one night stand with Goldie (who is a prostitute) and Marv get so much joy that he says,   “Worth dying for. Worth killing for. Worth going to hell for. Amen.” and he proves it.

Hartigan is willing to die- again- for Nancy Callahan, Dwight pulls some heroics to protect Shelley from her abusive exboyfriend, and then rescues Gail. It should also be noted that Dwight brought trouble to Old Town to begin with… and Miho saved him first. 

In fact, the young Becky (Alexis Bleidel) is the closest Sin City has to an innocent virgin… and she proves to be the least sympathetic of the bunch. 

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The dialogue is poetic, the language itself is coarse. 

There’s one line where Marv says of his therapist, “she’s a dyke, but god knows why, with a body like that, she could have any man she wanted.” that makes me cringe. But Marv isn’t shown as a wise man, either.

Other times the characters narrate what they are doing (“My hand slides out of my pocket and pulls back the hammer on my gun”)

But Dwight’s lines are my favorites:

“It’s time to prove to your friends that you’re worth a damn. Sometimes that means dying, sometimes it means killing a whole lot of people.”