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

Tuesday Nerd-Newsday!

Since all my TV shows are ending (except Agents of SHIELD, which has 7 more episodes and Lady Sif guest starring tonight) here’s some new movie trailers from the Horror/Scifi/Superhero realm that will help keep me entertained.

Stage Fright

Minnie Driver’s character is the catalyst for this film that looks a little Friday the 13th meets Phantom of the Opera. 4/3/14

Under the Skin

Bizarrely atmospheric thriller adapted from Michel Faber’s 2000 novel of the same name, about an alien sent to Earth by a rich corporation to prey on unwary hitchhikers. 4/13

13 Sins

If this tale of an economically disparate man who is driven to commit crimes for cash doesn’t seem wholly original, it’s because it isn’t. This is a remake of a 2006 Thai horror film. True Blood’s Rutina Wesley plays main character Elliot (Mark Webber)’s soon to be wife and Ron Perlman is the detective pursuing him. It looks.. interesting enough. 4/18.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Eva Green is the Dame to Kill For, back in another Frank Miller ultra far apart comic book sequel. The 300 movies were 7 years apart. The character she played recently in 300: Rise of an Empire got some less than favorable views because of Artemesia’s rape-revenge backstory. Hopefully the upcoming flick won’t be so trope ridden. Jessica Alba is still a total fox. I’m looking forward to this immensely. August 22nd.

Amazing Spiderman 2

It looks great. Also, total crush on Peter Parker. Spiderman does the Iron Man thing and creates his own villains.

Captain America: the Winter Soldier

I know pretty much the entire world has seen this. And knows ScarJo is pregnant. But I just wanted to point out that the first Captain America was pretty mediocre, and Marvel tossed in Black Widow because Cap couldn’t carry a movie on his own. I’m so pumped. And I wanted an excuse to link an article that stresses how much Scarlett trained for the stunt work in the Marvel movies. Because that’s badass. May 4, 2014

What are you most looking forward to?

Nerd News-day Tuesday

Comics Alliance featured an essay about IDW’s “sexualized” PowerPuff Girls #6 variant cover that got pulled in the dust up. It pretty much summed up my feelings on the matter, but NBD if it outraged you. There’s a lot to be mad at about out here. What you can’t be mad about is Eric Stephenson an Image comics publisher throws down for the ladies and tells writers and retailers alike that women WANT comics, be inclusive and they will come.

Of course, dumb-dumbs everywhere think that female supes can’t handle a movie of their own. But, well, tough shit. Black Widow’s getting her own movie. Slated for sometime after summer 2015, it appears Black Widow will get a movie before the illustrious Wonder Woman (because Marvel > DC, just saying). Although the new Black Widow comic book series didn’t thrill me, I think if they did this with a little more 007 flair, I could really get into it. And, come on admit it, the first Captain America movie was sub par and everyone is seeing this one because Marvel cinematic universe is a steam roller at this point +special effects +ScarJo is there. A Black Widow movie would do just fine. (PS Scarlett Johansson is expecting her first child, congrats!) But a recent essay on Storm over at KissMyWonderWoman  about Storm made me think about how rad it would be to have a X-Men movie that followed Ororo and Yuriko. They became fast friends under Claremont’s pen, and it would make sense since Yuriko followed Wolverine to the US after The Wolverine. I’m just saying: you should make that. Come on 20th Century Fox.

We get details about Terminator: Genesis (2015), which will revisit big moments from the first 2 movies. So it’s not remake, but an in continuity retcon. I think. According to MovieHole:

“Firstly, we will indeed be revisiting the events of the original 1984 film again. The ‘Terminator’ from the future will arrive on earth, attack some punks (keen to see who they get to play ‘Bill Paxton’), and then slaughter his way through a bunch of Sarah Connors’ – until he finds the correct target. And all the characters that appeared in the Cameron original, like Detective Hal Vukovich (played by Lance Henriksen in the original), Lieutenant Ed Traxler (played by Paul Winfield way back when), Sarah’s roomie Ginger (Bess Motta in the ’84 film) and, yep, even Pugsley the Iguana, return. So, yep, we’ll likely get to see Schwarzenegger back in the leather jacket and cool sunglasses he wore in the original. And, of course, Kyle Reese (Courtney) volunteers to go back to 1984 and save Sarah – just as he did first time around. But don’t expect everything to work out like it did in the original.. something is going to play out different.”

How (or ‘if’) they’re going to explain the THREE decades older Schwarzenegger, reprising his 1984 role, I don’t know. Which of course makes Hugh Jackman’s recent comments about his days as Wolverine being numbered slightly ironic. Days of Future Past will be his 7th time as the adamantium boned hero since 2000’s X-Men. Jackman recently told IGN “Look, that’s inevitable, man. Anyone who thinks they’re indispensable in this business is fooling themselves.”

And it all comes back to Marvel heroes again: Pumped for Agents of SHIELD’s return tonight? Bill Paxton drops in for tonight’s episode. Check out Comic Book Resources interview with Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tanchareon where they discuss May and Ward’s relationship, epic guest stars and tiny hints about what’s in the works. Still not OFFICIALLY renewed, though.

Photos from Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For emerge, the older -and blonder Jessica Alba is smoking hot as usual. ❤ ❤ Jessica Alba.

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Fantastic Female Friday: Abernathy (Death Proof)

Rosario Dawson is one of my faves. The Puerto Rican/Afro-Cuban/Irish American actress has played in-genre fatales such as Gail in Sin City (and the upcoming sequel Sin City 2: a Dame to Kill For), Maya in The Descent, Roxane in Alexander and Mariana in the Rundown in 2008 she starred in and executive produced the show “Gemini Division” playing an undercover cop who stumbles on covert genetic exeriments perpetrated by the government. She’s clearly no stranger to getting her action-chick on. And one of the her go-to confidence tips is “Standing like Wonder Woman” (More notable since she voiced the character Artemis in 2009’s animated Wonder Woman), she created her own comic book miniseries (“Occult Crimes Taskforce“- which at one point was being considered for a film adaptation) Need more to love about Rosario? Probably not, but there is plenty more.

But I’m actually, not here to fangirl Rosario Dawson.

I’m here to shout out my favorite character from one of my all-time favorite movies.

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Abernathy from Death Proof.

Before we get to “Why Abernathy?!” Let’s talk about “Why Death Proof?!”

Because I hear this all the time, “There’s too much talking,” “it’s so long/slow” “That movie where the girl rides on the outside of the car?!”

Why Death Proof?

I hear you. I have mentally logged every complaint of this movie. Even Tarantino said it’s his worst film. And I’m telling you that you are wrong. And he is wrong. Kill Bill part 2 is his worst film. Anyway, the plot. After dispatching a group of girls who take Wild Turkey shots and pull outrageous dares on each other, namely radio personality Jungle Julia (played by Sydney Tamiia Poitier) setting up a challenge that any man who recites a poem to “Butterfly” (played by Vanessa Ferlito) gets a lap dance from “Butterfly.” The butt of this joke is the first to realize that Stuntman Mike isn’t just a hillbilly has-been and that he’s a nefarious dude. Stuntman Mike gets his kicks stalking show-biz types (he’s out of Hollywood seeking revenge on the industry that left him scarred up through rising stars -unluckily for Jungle Julia, she just got her first billboard). B-scream queen Jordan Ladd and Rose McGowan’s characters get caught in the collisions as well.

Only after that are we introduced to Kim (Tracie Thoms), Zoe (Zoe Bell as herself), Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Abernathy.

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They’re picking up Zoe from the airport when Stuntman Mike starts his stalk. They’re working on a film together, Lee’s the lead actress who just got her first cover, Abernathy does make-up and Kim and Zoe do stunts.

And for all the complaining about dialogue: come on, this surpasses all movies ever for the Bechdel test, and the POC Bechdel test. You can’t have it both ways. And for me it’s not just that they talk, it’s what they talk about. Which is anything from Italian Vogue to John Hughes/classic action films to Gun Control.

All Zoe wants in the whole world is to drive a car like the car in Vanishing Point and play “Ship’s Mast” she sees her chance. While their stunt driving, they run into Stuntman Mike. No, literally, he runs into them with his car.

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So why Abernathy?

So we have 2 bad ass stunt people, Zoe “The Cat” and Kim whose preparedness was essential. Why Abernathy? Abernathy isn’t an action chick. She does make-up, she likes European Fashion mags, 16 Candles and has lefty views on gun control that if Kim shared would have doomed the lot of them. She’s a mom. And that’s why. Be honest with yourself, how many Molly Ringwald movies have you seen? Are you an action chick or a sandwich maker? Why do we treat it as a deficit when a character behaves like a regular human being? Abernathy is the one who convinces the hick to let them take the car for a drive. Zoe and Kim try to leave her behind, but she’s all “Hell, fucking no, I’m as cool as you” and she is. When it’s time to go after Stuntman Mike she stays strong and sticks with her girls.

And let’s talk about these bangs:

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I try to cut mine like that all the time and I look like a child who shouldn’t have scissors. For serious.

In short, she’s a real girl who defends her girliness like when Kim says “Of course you haven’t seen Vanishing Point, you’re a girl.” and Abernathy responds, “Excuse me. And what the fuck are you two?” But when it counts she’s down for her friends. Proving you don’t have to be an action-chick with “no sense” to make it to the final scenes.

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.”