Thursday, April 27, 2023

Sa North Diversion Road (On North Diversion Road, Dennis Marasigan, 2005)

Road trip

Never seen Tony Perez's Sa North Diversion Road (North Diversion Road) onstage, but easy to see why this is a perennial theater favorite, constantly being restaged: it's the story of ten couples, of different social classes, occupations, and temperaments, driving at different times down the same road, dealing with the man's infidelity to the woman. The metaphor is obvious--life's a long road taken by different people undergoing differing experiences, with different destinations along the way. The pleasure is in the execution, a dramatic tour de force for two.

Thursday, April 06, 2023

Sin City (Robert Rodriguez, 2005)

Thin City

Robert Rodriguez doing Frank Miller sounds like a match in heaven: Rodriguez's comic-book style should provide the speed and motion and visual depth to enhance Miller's images while Miller should add the twists and wisecracks to spark Rodriguez's sometimes shaky storytelling (Rodriguez as seen in Once Upon a Time in Mexico, often doesn't know how to drive a plot forward; he needs a fairly good writer, which is why I think From Dusk Till Dawn with longtime buddy Quentin Tarantino (clever writer not much of an eye) may be the best work either have ever done (there's Jackie Brown-- but that's an Elmore Leonard film which I hear involves Tarantino)).

Miller's Sin City 'graphic novels' (I remember when they used to be 'comic books') are black-and-white pastiches, the distillation of classic noirs where hardboiled detectives and/or borderline psychotics uphold complicated codes of honor, authority figures are absolutely powerful and absolutely corrupt, women are either whores or innocents endowed with pneumatically enlarged breasts. Perhaps the most notable feature of the novels is Miller's determined manner of turning up the volume on the sex and violence, particularly the violence (the sex mostly happens offscreen and is often remarkably chaste, given the milieu (one character goes on a killing spree after just a single night with a hooker; another goes to jail for years successfully defending the purity of a young girl)). Miller packs as many variations on killing as he can into his pages, using everything from a .45 caliber cannon to razor wire to a samurai sword; he puts a spin on violence through black comedy-- a mordant comment or ironic remark as exclamation point on someone's often bloodspattered passing. The savagery and humor plays against an austerely monochromatic background-- like looking at a blood-drenched world through armor-plated shades.