Premiere of Sin City, 2005/03/31
We went to the (regional) premiere of the new movie Sin City Thursday night. We had heard months ago that the real premiere would be here, but, alas, you can't beat LA for that sort of hype, so this is only the regional premiere. Ms. T. and others spent weeks trying to track down real details about where it was to be and when and how to get tickets. Finally one friend tracked down that the director's band might be playing on a certain date after the premiere. Aha! When it finally happened, the band turned out to be the director's sister instead, but, hey, the time and place were right.
We have three, count 'em three, guests who came in from out of town just for this event, two of them from nearby Houston and one all the way from New York. To be first in line for tickets, we had to join the Austin Film Society. But then finally to get the actual reserved seats, our friend calls from New York and spends an hour on the phone. It is worth it. Fantastic seats, second row of the balcony, on the aisle, the best seats that aren't reserved for the house.
As a movie premiere this is pretty low key. A typical Austin affair, not formal, no klieg lights, no long red carpet; the sidewalk just isn't wide enough.
There are only a few limos lined up out front, but one of them really catches my eye. It's a late fifties, maybe early sixties Cadillac in perfect condition. Black. But what a black. Never seen a car like this before. It is perfectly flat, funereal black, but a matte finish, probably called satin by the marketing department, with no gloss at all, except for the chrome of course. There isn't a dent or scratch on it. It's perfect, but what a peculiar paint job. I want to touch it, to see if it feels as satiny as it looks.
The director is Robert Rodriguez, who is much younger than I expected for someone of his accomplishments. He's in a denim-ish shirt with the tails hanging out. A New York Times fashion piece a couple months ago described this particular look (shirt tails out, especially when with jackets or suits) as "expressing every man's inner slob." I sort of like it, and have been known to do it from time to time, but Ms. T. doesn't, hates it. On top, he wears a large black cowboy hat with a fancy band. There's a design on the front of his shirt, a large brown figure was all that we could see from the balcony. It looks like a suede appliqué. It turns out to be Kokopelli, according to the papers.
The crowd is very informal, mainly jeans. To harmonize with the stark contrast of the movie, I wear my Eurotrash best: black jeans, black shirt, black shoes, white hair. Ms. T. is also in black and white. Most of the crowd is very informal. There are a few sequined tops, a few suede (or velour) pants, a number of very low-cut tops, many hats and boots, but only maybe two percent dresses rather than pants on the women. So sad that the miniskirt didn't come to this event. The weather was perfect for it, just not the culture.
The director comes out before the show. He's an Austin guy. And the movie was shot in Austin. And some of the post-production computing was done in Austin. This is a special place for him and for this movie. He tells us that there are five microphones scattered around the theater to record the audience reaction to the movie. Watching a DVD at home is such a lonely experience, he says. So he's going to include the audience sound track as a special feature on the DVD. So the crowd doesn't hold back through the movie.
The premiere is at the Paramount Theater, the largest venue in town, famous for its shortage of legroom and overabundance of air conditioning. Ms. T. pulls me over to her and in front of her left side so she can hide behind me. If I didn't have long sleeves, I would certainly succumb to hypothermia while Hartigan walks through the snow.
The movie: astonishing. This is high art. Better than the graphic novels. Visually like nothing you've ever seen. Clearly comic book. You've heard about the ultra-violence, sure, but hey, it's comic book violence. The MPAA did not ask for a single cut. Yes, there's blood, but the blood is done in white instead of red 99% of the time, except for a few key scenes.
It's black and white. I don't mean gray and white, but stark black and white with few or no mid-tones. In some scenes, there is a spot color: a red dress, a yellow face, a red car; sometimes yellow hair or a skin tone on a woman. Amazing perspectives: shooting straight down on a man trudging through snow or rain; down into a prison cell with the bars converging to the vanishing point. Scenes shot in silhouette. Cartoonish reflections in glasses. He said that the process was entirely digital. Shot it all in digital, in color, all green-boarded so they didn't need any sets. The color was removed or added, contrast adjusted, and the backgrounds added entirely in computer in post-production. The result is astonishing.
After the flick, Rodriguez and several others come out on stage for 30-40 minutes of Q&A. Frank Miller, the author and artist of the novels on which the movie is based. Jaime King, the babe who plays Goldie/Wendy. And Nick Stahl, who plays the Yellow Bastard.
The party after the movie is at Stubbs, a famous barbecue and music venue downtown. If you are a really privileged person, you get to go inside. If you are one of us peons, then you go into the back yard. Well, that's sort of okay, that's where the music is. And the swells sometimes come out to mingle with us hoi polloi. The director Robert Rodriguez is out there in the public area all the time. Frank Miller leaves the babe (Jaime/Goldie) and comes out for a while. our New York friend gets his book of drawings autographed.
The musical entertainment is by Patricia Vonne, who is Robert Rodriguez's younger sister. She also has a small part in the movie as Dallas, one of the girls in Old Town. She's pretty good, has several CDs out, has great stage presence.
The next day we see her perform again at the Alamo Drafthouse theater near our house, which we always call the Alamoo because of their T-shirts, and which now calls itself the Alley Moo because it's owned by a different group. Things at the Alamoo are always a little edgy. This day, in solidarity with the hookers in the movie, the waitresses at the Alamoo put on their kinky best, all leather and fishnets. And the occasional handcuffs, whips, and kinky black underwear. The cutest babe sports a black bustier on top, and below, a leather skirt that is really tiny, not more than a foot long, so short that it doesn't quite cover the delightful curve of her butt. Yum.