‘The whole thing about the first Sin City is that I was rediscovering the love of drawing on that job. I had absolutely no boss, and it was the first thing I completely did from head to toe by myself’, Frank Miller says to Will Eisner in their book-length conversation Eisner/Miller. ‘the rain scene was one of two scenes where I go the idea of simply not thinking about the number of pages. For me it was like I’d just stepped out of the cave into the morning’.
There’s been too much of the wrong kind of talking thus far in Frank Miller’s ‘The Hard Goodbye’ his first graphic novel in the Sin City series. It’s a welcome break to find a piece of honest detective story in this blacker-than-sin neo noir story. It’s a welcome break to find Good Ol’ Marv taking the time to put the pieces together. There’s been a lot of talking, but the action has been so slick and the comics so fluid, it’s easy to forget that there’s been monologue at all.
With Sin City Miller makes a genuine statement about comics. Comics in black & white because black & white comics are read rather than absorbed (as Eisner suggested in Eisner/Miller). Short, episodic tales, because this kind of punchy dialogue works well with the neo noir genre. And a comics of sharp contrasts, and hard-edged negative spaces to depict the ‘town without pity’.
But as elegant as the comics themselves remain, Miller makes an equally significant statement about the comics industry and the responsibilities and freedoms of creator-owned projects. As glimpsed in his comments to Eisner, Sin City was very much the journal of a comics artist breaking free from the decades-old format of the superhero comicbook. It was and remains a profound statement about the risk of art. In the early 90s, Sin City must have been a gamble. Noone yet had conceived of postmodern neo noir comics, no market had been established. Instead of simply replicating the modes of mainstream (superhero) comics, Miller uses this as an opportunity. In doing so, he recalls a favorite saying of web-marketer Seth Godin, that without art, there is no commerce.
Japandroids is racking up a multitude of accolades. Back in June PopMatters’ Scott Hreha said of Post-Nothing, which is getting an August 4th re-release, that “sonically, the band falls somewhere between forebears like No Age and Death from Above 1979—virile combination of passion and grandiosity that sounds much larger than the guitar/drums instrumentation implies.” Japandroids stopped by the Tripwire to play “I Quit Girls”.
A controversial screening at Cannes, Antichrist has already become notorious for dividing audiences—with some recoiling in utter disgust, and others who seem unable to contain their unbridled excitement. Although, the premise of the piece is far too expansive to encapsulate in a matter of words, essentially it is about a grieving couple that escape to a country retreat called Eden to grieve over the tragic loss of their son. Soon, psychological torture leads to violent physical manifestations between He (Willem Dafoe, who looks eerily Satanic in this role), and She (Charlotte Gainsbourg), whose unnerving portrayal is equally sympathetic and deplorable. A confrontational, and visceral viewing experience, Antichrist is von Trier’s most disturbing film—unrelenting in its cruelty, the piece is hardly what one would deem ‘conventional’ audience fare.
However, it is the filmmakers’ unflinching desire to affect his viewers that makes Antichrist so heroic. Von Trier is fueled by a brutal vision that details the despair of the human condition, without compromise. His picture unravels an unconventional theology, which suggests that the world, with all of it’s agonizing suffering, must have been created by Satan (as opposed to God), suggesting that evil and chaos will continue to reign supreme in the end.
Beautiful cinematography brings the wilderness of Eden to life, while a bare musical score, interspersed with the occasional operatic aria helps perpetuate the audiences’ nerve-wracking anticipation. Populist audiences and critics will disavow von Trier’s masterpiece because of its explicit content, but let me pose this question, had the film fallen into the more accessible (and shallow) horror film genre, would they be reacting so vehemently against it? Perhaps one of the most affecting films I have seen in years, Antichrist is a definite force to be reckoned with.