when dialogue screams

There they are, the billboards, advertising a movie due to be released in January 2009. "My City Screams" writ large in comic book letters, with the silhouette of a fedora-wearing man in a red tie obscuring the "A." It's quite a dose of confidence, isn't it? Creating a buzz so early...especially when the trailer screams, if you will, Sin City.

But that's not all it screams. Frank Miller, not my cup of tea, has questionable dialogue in Sin City that works on paper but sucks the air of the room on film. If the teaser for The Spirit is any indication of what we can expect, I despair. Consider the gritty voice-over layered over a vignette of the Spirit running the city rooftops to the sound of screams and ringing phones.

"My city. I cannot deny her. My city screams. She is my mother. She is my lover. And I am her spirit."

Let's parse that, shall we?

"My City."
So far, so good.
"I cannot deny her."
A bit strange. What does this even mean? Deny her what? But I'll let it slide.
"My city screams."
I like it. Melodramatic, perhaps, but not without poetry. It also lets the previous sentence take on a semblance of sense...can't deny the city help, attention...
"She is my mother."
Whoa. That's a bit much, isn't it?
"She is my lover."
Ewww. I mean, really: ewww. What is it with embodying inanimate things as women and relating to them as mothers ANDlovers? Hasn't that vampire Freud been staked through his Oedipal heart yet?
"And I am her spirit."
Now that's pretty good. The Spirit as a ghost of the city. It's kind of like the Ghost Who Walks - the Phantom.

Not only is the voice-over icky, it doesn't really say very much. If I were to take a stab at it, it would go something like:

"My city. Crime, corruption, despair. My city screams. But also hope. And justice. My city is my home, and I am it's spirit."

Not perfect, but better than what they have now.

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