Following on from part one of this list, we now continue our rundown of the 30 movies to look forward to this Fall and Winter:

16. Big Hero 6

BIG HERO 6With Disney’s purchase of Marvel, it was only a matter of time before the Mouse House scoured Marvel’s back catalogue to see what properties had animated franchise potential. Big Hero 6 is the result, a Marvel property as done via Disney. The first couple of trailers showcased beautiful animation, a suitably hero/villain Marvel storyline, all of which filtered through a Disney sensibility. It all looks wonderfully realised, with the heart warming inflatable wonder known as Baymax already grabbing the hearts of many. Featuring a voice cast that includes Jamie Chung, T.J Miller, Scott Adsit, Damon Wayans Jr, Alan Tudyk and Maya Rudolph, and with the combined power of Disney and Marvel, expect this to launch big. 

Release Date: November 7 US, January 30 UK.

17. Theory Of Everything


With a figure as compelling and as iconic as Stephen Hawking, it’s a wonder that it’s taken until 2014 to bring his life story to the big screen. Eddie Redmayne steps into the great genius’ shoes with Felicity Jones playing his wife, Jane Hawking, with both actors looking to be on top form as the couple, with the film promising to be far more character driven then simply a lecture on Hawking’s theories. Man on Wire’s James Marsh is calling the shots on this one, which will no doubt be shouting from the rooftops for awards for Jones and Redmayne when the film is released later this year. 

Release Date: November 7 US, January 2 UK. 

18. Rosewater 


Satirical funny man, Jon Stewart, took a three month hiatus from The Daily Show last summer to shoot this true life tale of Iranian born journalist, Maziar Bahari, who was captured and imprisoned by Iranian authorities in 2009, following the outcome of the controversial Iranian elections. Accused of being a spy by the Iranian government, Bahari was imprisoned and interrogated without charge for 118 days before being released. The film has received slightly lukewarm reviews since its premiere at Telluride recently, but with a powerful trailer, and what looks like another strong performance from Gael Garcia Bernal, Jon Stewart seems to have crafted a high drama about the endurance of the human spirit. 

Release Date: November 7 US. No UK release date as of yet.

19. Interstellar 


Christopher Nolan teams up with man of the moment, Matthew McConaughey, for this science fiction tale, that was once in the hands of Steven Spielberg. Ever since the film was first announced, little has been revealed about the upcoming film, other than it involves space ships, interstellar travel, wormholes, and Matthew McConaughey trying to save the world. Frankly, the lack of information is incredibly welcome in this day and age, as this seems like a film, like all Nolan films, that will be best viewed completely fresh. Plus the little bit we’ve seen from the trailers, suggest an intelligent and highly emotional and complex blockbuster. Emotion being the key word here, as that seems to have sold Nolan’s movies short on numerous occasions. Hopefully Christopher Nolan can deliver the emotion as well as the spectacular. 

Release Date: November 7 US and UK

20. The Hunger Games: Mokingjay Part 1


Yes, I know. They probably could’ve adapted the last book of Suzanne Collins trilogy into one movie, but hey, that’s Hollywood. I’ll admit, I wasn’t a huge fan of the first Hunger Games movie. I thought it was mediocre at best. But Catching Fire surprised me. A thoroughly engaging and enjoyable sequel that expanded on the world that Collins created and featured strong performances from its cast. Hence my excitement for the next instalment in the franchise. Now that the Hunger Games themselves are officially over, revolution is promised with the first part of what promises to be a truly epic finale, as Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss finally accepts her destiny as the Mockingjay and symbol of all hope. Get ready folks, this is gonna be big. 

Release Date: November 21 US and UK.

21. American Sniper

bradley-cooper After the lacklustre performance that was Jersey Boys this summer, Clint Eastwood offers up a far more intriguing affair, this Christmas, with the adaptation of Chris Kyle’s non-fiction book recounting his time as a Navy SEAL sniper. Originally set a s potential directing vehicle for Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood takes over the reigns with Bradley Cooper exchanging space raccoons for a sniper rifle as Kyle. Cooper’s on a role at the moment, so expect another strong performance from him. Hopefully this will also mark a return to form for Eastwood in the director’s chair too. 

Release Date: December 25 US, January 16 UK. 

22. Into The Woods


Already set to be one of the big hits of the holiday season, Rob Marshall’s adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s award winning musical features an all star cast, including Meryl Streep as a wicked witch and Johnny Depp as the Big Bad Wolf. If that bit of casting alone doesn’t excite you, then I don’t know what will. There’s already been a ton of talk behind this film, from the rumoured significant changes in the somewhat dark edged story to the teaser trailer’s lack of singing,, this already has people intrigued to see the final result. However, I’m sure that Marshall is more than capable of delivering a wonderfully fun holiday musical. 

Release Date: December 25 US, January 9 UK. 

23. Horns

Horns Movie Picture (6)It’s a different, more darker sort of magic that Daniel Radcliffe seems to be experiencing in Horns. After Harry Potter ended, a lot of questions were asked whether or not Daniel Radcliffe could escape the clutches of the boy wizard and be able to forge a career outside the biggest franchise of all time. Turns out he can. Going from strength to strength with every role he picks, Horns looks set to be another wise decision for the young thespian. The trailer looked all kinds of dark and fun, and Radcliffe to seems to be revelling in his role as a young man who discovers strange horns growing out of his head as he investigates the rape and murder of his girlfriend. Just in time for Halloween too.

Release Date: October 29 UK, October 31 US

24. The Interview


Already a source of much attention, and a potential catalyst for World War 3, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s sophomore directorial effort (following This Is The End) is another irreverent comedy, in which Rogen and best pal James Franco play a couple of journalists, recruited by the CIA to enter North Korea and assassinate Kim Jong-Un. Naturally of course, the North Koreans themselves are none too happy about this, spouting off as they do blah blah blah. So much so in fact, that according to rumour, a major scene has already been cut from the film. Let’s hope not, because I for one, think this film looks great. Plus, I don’t care what anybody says, anything that pisses off Kim Jong Un is worth a look in my book.  

Release Date: December 25 US, January 30 UK.

25. Big Eyes


Tim Burton is a director who used to be great. A man who delivered wonderfully inventive pieces of work, that stood against against the grain. Then came a slew of dull, unimaginative works that had us lamenting about the good old gothic days of Tim Burton. It seems though, that with his latest effort, it could signal a return to form for the gothic auteur. Big Eyes promises to be an intimate look at the work of artist Margaret Keane, whose paintings (known for featuring characters with the titular big eyes) were a phenomenal success in the 1950s, but were credited to her husband, resulting in a dramatic legal battle. Amy Adams plays Margaret Keane while Chritsoph Waltz plays her husband. A Tim Burton film worth looking forward to. Finally… Been a while since I could say that.

Release Date: December 25 US, No UK release date as of yet. 

26. The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies

maxresdefaultFinally, the defining chapter. At least, that’s how the first trailer for Peter Jackson’s final instalment in the Hobbit trilogy claims it anyway. We can go on about for an eternity whether or not it was a good idea to adapt Tolkien’s slim source material into three three hour long epics, but… Oh let’s not and look forward to what promises to be an epic final chapter in Jackson’s sojourn into Middle Earth. The first trailer was a moody affair, a slow build to the no doubt massive epicness that is the titular battle itself. The first movie was a plodding affair, while the second movie in the trilogy was a vast improvement, a rollicking fantasy adventure, so here’s hoping that Jackson and co can finally recapture that Lord of the Rings magic that we’ve been desperately waiting for. 

Release Date: December 12 UK, December 17 US.

27. Unbroken


Angelina Jolie’s first movie In The Land Of Blood and Honey was a little seen, underrated war movie, showcasing a skill and craft that may have gone amiss to the masses. It looks as if for her second movie, that her skill as a director will not go amiss this time with Unbroken, the fascinating true life tale of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini, who was taken captive by Japanese forces during World War II. Featuring up and comer Jack O’Connell as Zamperini (whose Starred Up is currently on release now and should most definitely not be missed) this could finally showcase the new Mrs. Pitt and Mr. O’Connell fully deserve.

Release Date: December 25 US, December 26 UK

28. Inherent Vice


Probably the top on most cinephile’s must-see-films-of-2014 lists, Paul Thomas Anderson returns to our screens this year with an adaptation of Thomas Pychon’s blistering novel. Joaquin Phoenix reunites with Anderson as Doc Sportello, the drug-fueled private detective on a search for his former girlfriend through the seedy world of 1970s Los Angeles. Featuring an all star cast of awards bait, including Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio Del Toro and Owen Wilson, this will no doubt be the movie that most critics will be slathering over when its released later this year. 

Release Date: December 12 US, January 30 UK.

29. The Imitation Game


After last year’s disappointing The Fifth Estate, Benedict Cumberbatch is hoping for better luck this time around, with his portrayal as famous mathematician Alan Turing, as he uses his brains and smarts to crack the German enigma code during World War II. The film has already scored raves on the festival circuit, particularly for Cumberbatch’s portrayal as Turing. So naturally of course, talks of a nomination are already on the table. Wouldn’t that be nice. He can place that right next to his recently acquired Emmy. With strong support in the likes of Keira Knightley, Mark Strong, Matthew Goode and Charles Dance, the BAFTA committee will no doubt lap this one up. 

Release Date: November 14 UK, November 21 US.

30. Foxcatcher


Bennett Miller is perhaps one of the greatest American filmmakers working today. Without a doubt, one of the greatest, if not the greatest American filmmaker working today. His first two features, Capote and Moneyball were marvellous examinations and dissections of real life characters and determined individuals. His third feature, Foxcatcher, has already scored raves when it premiered at Cannes earlier this year, particularly for Steve Carell and Channing Tatum’s awards worthy performances. The year long delay of the film (having been pushed back from last year) seems to have not hurt the film’s chances at all. For me, Foxcatcher is definitely The Must See Movie of 2014.

Release Date: November 14 US, January 9 UK. 



Yes folks, that’s right, the 2014 summer movie season is at an end. Through the flops and talking raccoons and mo-cap apes, analysts and industry insiders alike are busy bemoaning the slump in box office revenue, wondering what all this could mean for the future of the industry and all that. But while, yet again, the summer was a disappointment for the most part, with a few notable exceptions, attention squarely turns towards what remains of 2014, and quite frankly the rest of the year looks like a doozy. With big blockbusters that could rival any of this year’s summer “big guns”, and a group of awards contenders that could make this awards season one of the tightest and most unpredictable in a long time, Fall and Winter 2014 could be one of the best in a very long time. So now, let us all look ahead to my pick of the 30 movies that you should all be looking forward to in 2014 (part 1):

1. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby


What’s unique about Ned Benson’s directorial debut is that he’s essentially made three films for the price of one. Benson’s film stars James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain as a young married couple living in New York, with each film telling the story from differing perspectives, Him telling the story from McAvoy’s perspective, Her tells the story from Chastain’s perspective, while Them combines both perspectives into one. It’s a risky venture for any director, let alone a debut feature director. The risk though, seems to have paid off, with all films scoring raves around the festival circuit, with the majority of the praise being lauded upon the performances of its two leads. It’s more than likely that general audiences will likely see the combined version of the film, But if you can, then I highly suggest checking out all three versions, in what will surely be a truly unique cinematic experience.

Release Date: September 12 US, No UK release date.

2. The Drop


Scripted by noted crime author, Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Shutter Island, Gone Baby Gone) and directed by Michael R. Roskam (Bullhead), The Drop features the last screen performance of the late James Gandolfini and judging by the trailer, it looks set to be another winner from the great actor. While still in the world of crime, it looks to be a more sombre and subtle performance from Gandolfini. Not to mention, with the always terrific Tom Hardy as lonely bartender caught up in a robbery gone wrong before becoming entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the past and criminality of his neighbourhood, this looks set to be a throughly engaging crime drama as only someone like Dennis Lehane can deliver.

Release Date: September 12 US, November 14 UK

3. The Maze Runner


The first big YA adaptation of the fall features a group of young whippersnappers stuck smack bang in the middle of a gigantic and mysterious maze with no way out and a bunch of creepy weird things called Grievers running around at night. Based on the first in James Dashner’s smash hit series, The Maze Runner promises to be the first in a new saga, hoping to take over the reigns from The Hunger Games as the next big thing in the YA movie world. With two really effective and atmospheric trailers, Wes Ball’s adaptation looks set to be a different kind of thing to the Hunger Games and Divergent’s of this world. Featuring a great young cast, including Will Poulter, Kaya Scodelario and Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien, this looks set to be a more than capable successor to Katniss’s crown.

Release Date: September 19 US, October 10 UK

4. A Walk Among The Tombstones


I don’t care who you are, everybody loves a good Liam Neeson flick. Stepping away from the silly action movies that have defined him in the past few years, Scott Frank’s adaptation of Lawrence Block’s best selling novel seems to be a far more darker and grittier affair that the lambastic action movies we’ve seen Neeson tackle in the past. Neeson plays former NYPD detective-turned unlicensed private investigator, Matthew Scudder, who comes afoul of some truly sinister foes, whilst investigating the disappearance and murder of a wife of a drug trafficker. For those fans, craving something a little darker and more sinister from the man with a specific set of skills, this could very well be the film for you.

Release Date: September 18 UK, September 19 US.

5. The Skeleton Twins


Making its debut at this year’s Sundance film festival, The Skeleton Twins promises to show a somewhat more dramatic, more indie spirited side to comedians and Saturday Night Live alums, Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. The trailer was a fun breeze and looks like typical indie fare of depressed people returning home to confront familial truths and learning life lessons and all that blah blah blah… But with the film scoring solid reviews at Sundance and the presence of Hader and Wiig, this is definitely one to check out this coming fall.

Release Date: September 12 US, Novemeber 7 UK

6. The Zero Theorem


No matter how you feel about his movies, whether you love or hate them, there is no denying the fact that it’s always exciting when a new Terry Gilliam film is released. The Zero Theorem looks to be pure Gilliam, with his trademark visual style and bizarre sounding story, it will no doubt, like the majority of Gilliam’s works, be totally divisive upon release. Christoph Waltz plays a computer hacker, whose attempts to discover the reason for human existence, are constantly interrupted by the Management when they send an attractive and lusty lady to distract him. Like I said, pure Gilliam. With the trailer looking all kinds of bizarre and wonderful, this could yet be another must see from Gilliam. Whether or not you love or hate the film entirely depends on you.

Release Date: September 19 US.

7. The Boxtrolls


Laika animation are the unsung animation heroes in the animation field today. With two of the best animations in recent years already under their belts, (Coraline and ParaNorman), Laika look set to make it three for three with another weird and fantastical tale involving trolls who live in boxes who adopt a young orphan boy. From what we’ve seen, the stop motion animation looks gorgeous, with the characters and detail of the world beautifully designed. Featuring a stellar voice cast, including Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark), Elle Fanning, Ben Kingsley, Richard Ayoade, Jared Harris, Nick Frost and Traey Morgan, this looks set to be the animated movie to beat this year.

Release Date: September 12 UK, September 26 US,

8. The Equalizer


Yes, it’s another adaptation of a TV series, but at least this one has the benefit of Denzel Washington teaming up with his Training Day director Antoine Fuqua, to deliver some hard R-rated violence and justice on some bastard gangsters. Featuring the likes of Chloe Grace Moretz and Melissa Leo, this probably won’t change the rule book on how to do this sort of thing, but with the always reliable Washington on full throttle, this could no doubt be a thoroughly enjoyable action flick.

Release Date: September 26 UK and US

9. Gone Girl


No doubt set to be one of the biggest hits of the year, David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s wildly popular best selling novel has a ton going for it. Not only does it seem to have Fincher’s trademark unnerving style, perfect for this sort of thing, the film is also scripted by Flynn herself. It even features a brand spanking new ending, since Flynn herself noted her own disappointment with novel’s original ending. With Ben Affleck back in everyone’s good books, he looks absolutely perfect as Nick Dunne, the man who may or may not have had something to do with his wife’s disappearance. While the ever reliable Rosamund Pike steps into the title role as the Gone Girl, Amy Dunne.

Release Date: October 3 UK and US.

10. Whiplash


Kicking up a storm at this year’s Sundance, Damien Chazelle’s film looks set to turn the tables on the whole mentor/protege archetype. The recent trailer couldn’t quite convey the ferocity of Simmons performance, but rest assured when I tell you, that it is blistering. Featuring yet another star making turn from Miles Teller, this could very well be the dark horse come awards season. Expect to hear plenty.

Release Date: October 10 US, January 16 UK.

11. Kill The Messenger


As is the case every year around this time, a slew of true life tales make their claim on the awards season territory. Michael Cuesta’s Kill The Messenger has all the hallmarks of a great true life tale; government conspiracies, period setting, all star cast etc… This will no doubt be something to look out for if you’re into this sort of thing. And with Jeremy Renner leading a cast that features the likes of Michael Sheen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Rosemarie DeWitt, this has all the potential of being a serious awards contender. The academy does like this sort of thing.

Release Date: October 10 US, March 6 UK

12. Book of Life


With the lack of animated movies out over the summer, it’s nice to see we’re going to be treated to a wealth of great looking animated movies come the fall. With Guillermo Del Toro on board as producer, Book Of Life features gorgeous looking animation and a terrific voice cast, including Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana and Channing Tatum. Book of Life looks set to be a truly memorable tale of true love, life, death and everything in between. And a lot of great music no doubt.

Release Date: October 17 US, October 24 UK

13. Fury


After the woeful Sabotage earlier this year, David Ayer exchanges the mean streets of LA and the world of drug cartels, for the war ravaged lands of World War II Europe, and quite frankly, this looks to be a far more promising prospect. Starring Brad Pitt as the aptly named Wardaddy, leading his motley tank crew behind enemy lines in the last days of the war, the film looks set to feature blistering tank battles and a cast giving it their all, and yes, that does include Shia Labeouf. The trailer looked wonderfully promising and with an awards friendly release date, expect this to do very well.

Release Date: October 17 US, October 24 UK.

14. Birdman


The film that everybody is talking about at the moment, following its blistering debut at Venice recently, where it garnered rave review, most notably for its career defining performance from Michael Keaton, as the former superhero actor trying to reignite his career by putting on a play. Featuring an all star cast, including Edward Norton, Emma Stone and Amy Ryan and already being tipped as a major frontrunner this awards season, we will no doubt be hearing plenty about this movie in the next few months.

Release Date: October 17 US, January 2 UK.

15. Nightcrawler


Probably the dark horse of this year’s awards season, Dan Gilroy’s film seems to play a little like Taxi Driver for TV crime journalism. An emaciated Jake Gyllenhaal goes intense to portray Lou Bloom, a man so desperate to make a name for himself in the world of underground crime journalism, that he will go to extreme lengths to achieve his goal, no matter what. The trailers look fantastic, with Robert Elswit’s cinematography capturing a seedy night time gloom of LA that would make Michael Mann proud. Not to mention the film features starring roles for Bill Paxton and Rene Russo, something that’s always welcome thing in my book.


Release Date: October 31 US and UK.

Check back soon for Part II and the rest of the 30 Must See Movies This Fall And Winter…



Without a doubt, Foxcatcher is one of the must-see movies of 2014. After being pushed back from November 2013, Bennet Miller’s startling true life tale of John Du Pont and the shocking murder of former Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz in 1996, premiered in Cannes earlier this year to overwhelmingly positive reviews. Now, IMDB have just posted another short teaser trailer for the film, this one focusing on the remarkable serious turn from Steve Carell as John Du Pont.

Foxcatcher looks set to be a serious awards contender this season, with Carell and Channing Tatum leading the charge in the acting categories. Hopefully, audiences and critics will be able to look past Carell’s fake nose and focus on the chilling performance that he’s giving in the film. Director Bennett Miller looks set to make it three for three after the superb double bill of Capote and Moneyball. 

The film is released on November 14th with a UK release date on January 9th. Expect to see a lot of this movie in the next few months.


Remember last summer when Jon Stewart took a sojourn from The Daily Show to make a movie? Now see the result, as Rosewater written and directed by Stewart, has debuted its first trailer online.

Rosewater tells the story of Iranian-born Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, who was arrested and imprisoned for 118 days while covering the Iranian elections in 2009. During his imprisonment, Bahari was subjected to interrogation and torture by a man simply known as “Rosewater”, who had “proof” of Bahari’s evil intentions by using his Facebook page and an appearance on Stewart’s own Daily Show as evidence.

As you can tell from the tone of the trailer, this is something one might not expect from usually satirically minded and politically scathing Stewart. Instead, it seems that he has crafted a rather more contemplative drama about one man’s torturous ordeal and the perseverance of hope in an ever increasing and frighteningly desperate situation.

The first reviews out of Venice and Telluride, from which the film just had its premiere, seem to suggest that the film is more of a human story rather than a political one, most commenting that while the film is commendable, the film lacks in certain areas, namely in its script. THR reports that the film is “emotionally accessible but modest” but “lacks urgency” and expands to say “the way the story unfolds, there really isn’t s message per se other than a general one about not giving up hope; the political and personal lessons here  don’t seem particularly profound or instructive.” Variety went on to say that Bahari’s story is “brought to the screen with impressive tact and intelligence by writer-director Jon Stewart.”

With Gael Garcia Bernal who looks set to deliver another fine performance as Bahari, I will most definitely be buying tickets on opening when the film opens on November 7th.

Check out the trailer below or over at Apple.

Sin City A Dame To Kill for Wallpaper

When Sin City opened in 2005, it was a wake up call for comic book movies. Robert Rodriguez brought Miller’s searingly visceral, incessantly violent, extreme noir tales featuring dubiously amoral characters to dizzying life in a visually stunning adaptation that transcended the term “comic-book movie.” It was a comic book movie that audiences had never seen before. A gutsy, violent comic book movie for adults, with sex, booze, OTT violence and bucket loads of severed limbs and blood splattering the screen, with not a single spandex clad superhero in sight. Featuring a glittering all star cast, the film was a commercial and critical success, grossing over $150 million dollars worldwide.

Now, nine years later, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For finally opened in theatres this past weekend. Unlike its predecessor however, the film has bombed big time, opening in eighth place and grossing less than $10 million, putting it on course to be one of the biggest flops of the 2014 summer season. 

There could be many reasons for this. The nine year wait, the fact that the first Sin City movie didn’t really warrant a sequel, Marvel’s dominance of the comic book movie scene in those proceeding nine years, poor marketing,  poor reviews (the film’s scored less than fifty percent on Rotten Tomatoes) or maybe the fact that just nobody really cares anymore about this world filled with OTT pulpy dialogue, amoral characters and schlock fantastical violence.

But, in my opinion, there is a far greater problem that hangs not so delicately over the head of A Dame To Kill For. And that is of course, the problem of MISOGYNY.

Misogyny of course, is nothing new to the Sin City Universe. Many of the first film’s detractors highlighted the film’s blatant misogyny and use of violence, particularly of that inflicted upon women. It didn’t help that all female characters were nothing but whores and strippers and devious manipulators, subjected to grotesque bouts of violence, whilst packing big guns, and wearing the most improbable and impractical outfits this side of an S and M convention. But this was Sin City. Nobody was innocent. It was a bleak world where men and women alike were morally corrupt figures living in hyper real noir world. They were Chandler-esque archetypes taken to the very extreme of the spectrum and then some. It was comic book noir. It was fantasy. And to be fair, grotesque violence was adequately dispatched upon the more psychotic male characters of the world as well as the female.

So why now, do I have such an issue with Sin City: A Dame To Kill For? Is it because the film isn’t as good as its predecessor? Is it because I’ve grown up in those nine years since the first movie? All I know is that, I believe the film’s misogyny and treatment of women is hugely problematic.

Like the first movie, the female characters depicted in the movie are all either whores or strippers or manipulative sexual deviants who manipulate and corrupt the man’s will to their own ends. However in the first movie, the female characters had agency. Rosario Dawson’s head prostitute Gail, was a sort of mother figure, protecting her girls from psychotic gangsters, with Clive Owen’s Dwight McCarthy being swept along within their story. They didn’t corrupt men with their overt sexuality, acting as sirens, luring men into their bosom to slaughter and destroy. The men were already morally corrupted psychotic fiends and deviants as exemplified by Nick Stahl’s Yellow Bastard. Women, like men within the world of Sin City, were products of their environment. A corrupt city with even more corrupted values.

Women in Sin City: A Dame To Kill For are the devil in disguise, devils that need to be controlled and maintained. Manipulators who use their bodies to manipulate men to exact their bidding and attain the glory and riches they crave. The most problematic of course is Eva Green’s Ava Lord, the titular Dame To Kill For. A femme fatale from the classic old school noir of the forties. She is Barbara Stanwyck from Double Indemnity taken to grotesque extremes. Like Stanwyck’s character, Ava Lord uses her body and sexuality to manipulate every male character she comes into contact with. She is not human, but a demon. “A Goddess who makes slaves of me.” A femme fatale taken to such grotesque extremes, she is not human. At one point, her character even emerges naked from a fountain in an almost supernatural way. A siren or Greek legend, emitting her song of sexuality, luring any poor hapless soul. Granted, we are visiting a truly fantastical world where the dialogue is as hard boiled as the eggs, so of course Miller and Rodriguez may be making a comment on these female archetypes but I doubt it. Now, in the first film, women did not corrupt men. Men were already corrupted. Here, good men are corrupted by Ava, driven mad by her body and siren like superhuman abilities. Ava is a devil in disguise, a succubus, using men to attain nothing more but wealth and riches. She is a woman in control of men and this cannot be condoned. Like all good film noirs of the forties, she must be punished for her transgressions.

Brolin’s character (taking over from Clive Owen) describes Ava as having a hold over him, corrupting him completely. She is a woman whose sole crime in the movie is her manipulation of men. Like the classic femme fatale, her goal is financial gain, and her tools are her sexuality and men. Ava, a woman, is in control of the male and in Miller’s world, that poses a problem. The status quo must therefore be righted. Thus, Dwight recruits Rosario Dawson’s prostitute Gail to assist him in righting the wrong. Unlike the first film, in which Dwight was helping Gail protect her girls from psychotic gangsters, here Gail is nothing more than a servant, an assistant in aiding Dwight in exacting vengeance on the woman that wronged him. She may not be having sex with Dwight, but Gail is providing a service all her own, with no agency for herself other than to service the male in her life.  By the story’s end, Dwight has righted the wronged and in the final shot of the storyline, Dwight is framed between Gail and Jamie Chung’s Miho, a shot that highlights Dwight’s return to power over the female figure.

The problem here is simple… Ava Lord is an outdated archetype. As discussed last week, we live in a world where the heroes of the big screen are people like Katniss Everdeen, Tris Prior and Black Widow. I’m not against having a female villain, in fact I think we need more of them, but I think as an audience, we are beyond a female villain who wants nothing more than riches and gold and has all the complexity of a dollar note.

Watching this storyline play out of course, I found myself amazed and strangely bored by this age old archetype playing out on screen before me in 2014. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve read the source material on which this is based. It’s a fascinating read, and works beautifully in comic book form… but in film form… Not so much. I just couldn’t believe how outdated an archetype such as that of Ava Lord, was playing out before me.

There was hope of course in the form of Jessica Alba’s Nancy Callahan. Following on from the first film, Nancy is now a drunk, still stripping, but haunted by the visage of Bruce Willis’ John Hartigan, her one and only true love. She is out for vengeance. Her story isn’t actually too bad, but like Ava, she manipulates her body to corrupt the last smitten of moral goodness that hulking brute Marv has left inside of him. She is still defined by her sexuality. She manipulates her face, damages her own body, in order to exact vengeance. It’s almost as like the filmmakers are saying that Nancy cannot exact vengeance before dismantling the body and sexual creature of which she is.  Instead of exacting revenge, she spends much of her story simply stripping and dancing erotically for the pleasure of sum bag losers that populate her place of work.

Other female characters, such as that of Maisie in Joseph Gordon Levitt’s storyline, merely exist so that sadistic violence may be exacted upon them. Perhaps only Miho is the only one left unscathed by the misogyny of Frank Miller’s world.

Maybe I’m being too harsh on the movie. Granted, the male characters don’t exactly come across as examples of pure innocence and purity, but my word they certainly do fare better than the female characters of this world. Perhaps that why audiences just didn’t turn out for Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. Maybe because we’ve moved on from this age old outdated archetypes of yore. No matter what you read, audiences are smart. Perhaps its time that we put characters like Ava Lord to rest for good.