Just after my little white Mitsubishi was outfitted with a new front and rear from a crunch between two cars on I-405, I was in yet another wreck on Sunday. The SUV in front of me came to a stop that was sudden enough that although I had enough time to halt I checked the rear view mirror. I had enough time to realize the car behind me wasn’t slowing down at all and say “Oh no…” before getting slammed by a massive impact followed by an even bigger one as I hit the SUV in front of me. When it was over I could see smoke coming out of the hood and something smelled like it was burning, so I bailed fast and ended up on the grass by the road sobbing like a little girl. I figured out after awhile that the pain in my arm was a bruise from the air bag and some impacted fingernails, nothing serious. Strange enough, although the two women in front of me didn’t take much damage to their vehicle, they went to the hospital in an ambulance. We had the whole circus there, cops, firetrucks, rescue vehicles. Turns out the guy behind me had some brakes that weren’t working very well… my car is completely totalled. The back bumper was torn completely off, the trunk is concave and the front is a mess. Ah, it’s a beautiful life… I have no idea who he was, and he’ll probably never read this, but I would like to say thanks to the volunteer firefighter who was first on the scene, called in the accident and brought me out of my daze. He disappeared before I could say it in person.
The gap between this entry and the last one ought to tell you how much work I’ve had to do over the last couple of weeks. Saturday I celebrated my 29th birthday, aware that this will be the last year of my twenties. Good riddance to the twenties, youth is highly overrated. The only nice thing about being young is the good health, and even that can go at anytime. This Wednesday I will be attending a memorial service for someone I used to go to church with who I don’t believe ever reached 30. My attitude will always be that I am surprised, pleased and amused that I lived another year, not disappointed that I’m no longer a girlish twenty-three.
My birthday party was a trip to the Valley 6 drive-in, newly opened for the warmer months. The feature was this week’s number one box office hit, Sin City. I read Frank Miller’s original Sin City graphic novel when I was in college after I found it on the floor of the apartment I shared with Sequential Art major Sarah. It was one of the most disturbing comics I’ve ever read, the kind with imagery that isn’t forgotten easily. Cannibalism, dismemberings, gruesome violence and the electric chair for the main character Marv are the stuff that comes back to mind in the early morning hours. It was prominent on my mind as I considered whether or not I would go to the film version, and if it hadn’t been made in chiaroscuro so true to Miller’s artistry I would have skipped it altogether. As soon as the opening sequence ended on a silhouette animation of white on black, I said, “This is going to be quite a movie.” And I was right.
Not only is the plot of several novels only slightly modified to flow on film, but most of the dialogue is lifted directly from the books. But even viewers unfamiliar with the Sin City series will notice that many scenes look like comic panels. Characters fall into poses as the light and shadows wrap them in a way that is clearly planned and strangely captured in time, making the entire film an experience I can’t compare to anything else but reading the actual books. Stand-outs might be Kevin (Elijah Wood) sitting on the farmhouse porch reading a Bible with a white cross and eyes hidden under white lenses, Wendy’s curling golden hair blurring out her skin by comparison, or Miho’s brief suspended animation as she hangs in the air over her victims. I was looking forward to seeing Marv come to life and Mickey Rourke didn’t disappoint; he was a hulking, grinning 800-pound gorilla.
Get beyond the way the movie looks and there’s room for disappointment. Whatever convoluted message Miller is trying to get across about power and corruption takes such a backseat to the violent pageantry it becomes childlike, seeming to have no more depth than a dopehead teenager in line for a Phish concert telling everyone “It’s all a crock, man.” My parents went over the weekend before I had the chance to warn them, and they described it as “horrific.” Sin City is horrific. It has more in common with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre than any serious desconstruction of religion, there are certainly enough limbs coming off. If the movie were in color, I would have needed a shower afterwards. But it was also, in its way, brilliant. For a discussion of the comic, see this article by comics friend Bill Morse.
I also celebrated my 29th birthday on Saturday, and some friends wanted to know if I plan to stop there. Not me. I could use a couple of lines on my face so I won’t get carded all the time, and I’m convinced respect begins at 30. Unlike me, Maridee will be in her twenties for awhile, and I’m sure she won’t age without a fight.