Sin City: A Dame to Kill – A Failed Sequel

I fucking adore Robert Rodriguez, and his work. One of my favorite movie is Planet Terror for christ sake! You can now imagine my disappointment when watching Sin City: A Dame to Kill, which appeared to be as bad as Sin City was good.

Both Rodriguez and Frank Miller pushed too far the cinematography for this sequel, and except some nice shots worthy of a real B movie, with orgasmic intensity, SCDK is too damn ugly.  And this is on behalf of wanting to emphasize too much on the style that conquered the fans’ hearts in 2005. This resulted in a big failure.
They would have done better to do an animated comic of Sin City 2.

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 9.01.02The mix of genres; film noir, drama, crime and B movie style, is still very well handled and captivating, along with the strongly stereotyped narration and dialogues, told by gravelly, hoarsely voices. All this put you in a very particular mood of filthy narrow streets and suburban nights, however, they were pushed too far, to the extent where grotesque takes over and makes you mirthlessly laugh.

Also, some scenes combining few objects or characters in color while the rest is in black and white, caused terribly ugly shots, like:

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 9.04.34or:

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 9.10.47The neo-noir constructed with poker, hookers, light/shadow game, shootouts, even though efficient was sometimes excessively applied; almost with a tone of hyperbolism.

Those elements competed with some unique, priceless scenes, and framings, such as:

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 8.51.57 Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 8.59.59 Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 9.04.17 Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 9.17.53And sometimes, sublime experimental ones:

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 9.29.45 Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 9.33.20Set in the dystopian streets of Sin City, where violence, filth, and sex are valued or at least preponderant, we follow four stories, somehow related, where characters converge at some point.

We are introduced to new characters. 
Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) – the other son of Senator Roark (Powers Boothe) wants to prove to his evil father that he can beat him, is better than him, and he’ll use poker to get through Roark. Or, Eva (Eva Green) the femme fatale of this film noir, who charmed Dwight (Josh Brolin) and every man she encounters into getting what she wants. She is magnified by Rodriguez, the actress embodied with talent her vilain character, and is the only good performance of the movie.

Sin City, lost anyway some of its core essence, with A Dame to Kill and in a nutshell, few elements are climaxing, the rest is pretty much ridiculous and the equivalent in value of S.A.S. novels.

Killing Zoe – 1994’s Nugget

I was wandering around the office the other day, during my lunch break, and I started looking at the movies lined up in two small shelves. Among them, in the middle, shone Killing Zoe. A 1994 gold nugget, produced by Quentin Tarantino and Lawrence Bender, and presented by Samuel Hadida.

Julie Delpy had just finished with the Trois Couleurs of Krzysztof Kieslowski, and reached a glowing cinematographic climax at that time. She is Zoe in Roger Avary‘s GenerationX film and she is playing along with Jean-Hugues Anglade and Eric Stoltz.

This was constructed to be an insane creation, and I might consider it a midnight movie, well this is the kind of stuff I want to watch. So I grabbed the motherfucker and I used my lunch break (and a little bit more) to devote myself to this hysterical feature.

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Quickly the story; Zed (Eric Stolz) comes back to Paris after eleven years for “business”, in the cab from the airport to the hotel, he is approached by the taxi driver who kindly offered to schedule him a prostitute as a gift for his return; Zoe. They made love while Murnau‘s Nosferatu was on TV (interesting juxtaposition), and of course, chemistry happened. But Eric (Jean-Hugue Anglade) happened too. The old friend of Zed, entered the apartment like a storm, and threw Zoe out of it, and cheered his childhood friend after all these years. We will soon learn that Eric has a plan in mind, he wanted Zed for a bank robbery, that had to happen the day after.

Fotor0906124422Anyway, the plot is on speed, the scenes are on speed, and the characters are definitely on speed; coke, hashish, heroin, the drug ritual before the d-day. The interesting connection to make here is this one: to persuade Zed to give himself up to drugs the day before their attack, Eric said : “we live life” and “zoe” in greek means “life” therefore: killing zoe = killing life, which is paradoxical and pretty much revelatory, considering what will happen next (but no spoilers).
And in a sort of bonus, we get to know the underground Paris, but never the “real Paris” as Zoe promised Zed to show him. Then we are kindly invited to a jazz club, where you can do drugs, get approached by prostitutes and might order a bottle of wine, with absinthe in it. This lifestyle is pretty much destructive, and you end up stuck in your bubble, floating around pills of all genre, powder of all kind, and needles carrying all sort of diseases, and this is how we learn without surprise that Eric has AIDS. So the guy has nothing to loose diving his face on illicit products and having ideas of robbing banks.

Fotor0906124137For the french actor, Anglade, his role in Killing Zoe, might be his best performance; a serein psychopath, disconnected from all forms of human empathy, darkly funny and hell he is coherent without being coherent. I was literally flabbergasted by his acting, he left me breathless, and not only was I laughing at his lines, but I was admiring his detachment, and I empathized with what he has become, imagined through what he had to go all these years to end up in a small apartment with four dumb drug addicts.  Anglade embodied the character with a nonchalance that seemed almost natural, he found the perfect balance between psychosocial behavior and despair. I believe he was the main character, not Zed or Zoe, but Eric.

"Oups attention, y'a du monde" "Oups, careful, there're people"

“Oups attention, y’a du monde”
“Oups, careful, there’re people”

Killing Zoe, is sordidly fun, and all this craziness, this halo of insanity makes you trip. Even though the end was predictable, and there were some great issues with light, I enjoyed every other aspects of the movie. A pure B movie.

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Supervixens – B movies part 2

What the hell is wrong with you women?!

Ten years after MotorpsychoRuss Meyer kept the same spirit in his semi-pornographic movie Supervixens. His hero Clint (Charles Pitts), is going through hard times. After a big fight with his woman, SuperAngel (Shari Eubank), he goes for a drink (or two, or three…), and during this time, she’s killed. Turns out, he’s the most likely to be accused of her murder, therefore, he found himself running away.

That thing being said, if you’re planning on watching what’s coming next, you’d better abide to Russ Meyer’s crazy mind. Indeed, Clint is sexually harassed by three women, during his run away. Three women, with prominent breasts, nymphomaniac and nudist traits and pretty tough personalities. One bold american, a wild ostrich nymph, and a black nudist but certainly, the most wise of all three. Are there critics towards the europeans migrating to the USA, and about stereotypes towards native black people? Is Russ Meyer criticizing the americans despise the blacks more than the europeans immigrates? Could that be gone that far? Social aspects, implicitly approached through sexual feature? No idea.

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However, Clint, naturally, pisses off every men, and hitchhikes until he finds a gas station, just like the one he used to work in, managed by a woman, SuperVixen (Shari Eubank again). Myteriously, he doesn’t notice the obvious resemblance between his past SuperAngel and this woman, with who he falls in love.
Until then, he had always found a way to get away from all men that wanted him dead, all but one, the murderer.

There’s not much to say about that movie, except the fact that it might be the greatest work of the genre, with somehow some suspense! A whole new world full of pheromones, and women on fire, spread out in the desert, is created by the director. He gave birth to a unique atmosphere, with madness, and sexuality sweating from all his characters. A desert that is waiting to be fill up with something.
Nonetheless, one element can’t be denied; the grotesques but obvious similarities with Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, the cartoon, where Clint is the Road Runner and the murderer the Coyote. One is running, the other trying to blow him off.

Charles-Pitt-in-Supervixens-ray-monty-charles-and-harrison-12108867-800-634

Explosions, sex, women and… cartoons. A B movie and a sexploitation bursting into a wild semi-arthouse, part of the Golden Age of exploitation and the exploitation boom, but with surely a smaller impact, compared to Motorpsycho wearing the crown.

Motorpsycho – B movies part 1

In 2008, I was 13, and started paying attention (or should I said, be dazzled?) to (by) Quentin Tarantino‘s work with Death Proof, and Robert Rodriguez‘s one with Planet Terror. I learned that something called Grindhouse had been created by the two crazy filmmakers, a year before, and regrouping both of those movie because of this same weird genre I liked so much. And I also learned about the B movies, belonging to a specific type of film, gathering features like, low budget, poor special effects, violence, gore, sex, shooting etc. Thus, I took a pen, a piece of paper, and started looking in every website, book, magazine, for B movies titles. I have now a pretty long list, and Motorpsycho was the first I wrote down.

Motor Psycho (1965

Directed by Russ Meyer, Motorpsycho was released on a symbolic year; 1965. I insist on this, because, it is often said that the B movies reigned between 1960 and 1970. Therefore, Motorpsycho is emblematic of this genre.
The film deals with three bikers, keeping on running into beautiful, sexy and a little whory women, encounters from which they took the bad habit of raping them. As they succeeded in neutralizing 2 out of 3 men trying to rescue their girls, the one left, Cory Maddox (Alex Rocco), full of revenge, decided to haunt and kill them one by one after discovering what they have done to his wife. On his way he meets Ruby (Haji), injured, near her dead husband, and the three abandoned bikes. Together, they found themselves following the gang.

The movie’s worth a glance, partly because of the way it is structured, and partly because of the music; really sticking and catchy melodies.
A true western, where Cory is the cow boy wearing a hat and taking care of animals, and where the three boys are the indians, considering the fact that the leader is wearing a vest with feathers. Not exactly a rape and revenge thing, but a misogynistic movie where women are represented and treated like horny objects, putting themselves into complex and dangerous situation, hiding a pathetic need to be saved by men. It is nonetheless, a great B movie, having an interesting story development and a great filming procedure.

Second degree is more than necessary while watching and enjoying a film like this, not to forget that sexual tensions existing between men and women must be acknowledge.

In a nutshell, Russ Meyer is one of a hell B movies icon!