Hey folks, Harry here... Cuaron is brilliant. He's absolutely perfect so far as a director. Making consecutively great films for the last 11 years. And it seems he's done it again with his THE CHILDREN OF MEN. This opens September 29th this year, which can not get here soon enough for me. The first word I got tonight came from some coolguy, briefly:
I just got back from the first showing of the film children of men. Let me start off by saying it is an excellent film. Clive Owen solidifies his status as being one of the top leading men. Michael Caine is hilarious in a role you wouldn't expect him in. The real driving force of this film though is Alfonso Cuaron. There are two sequences in this film that are just downright masterpieces of filmmaking. Both are extended long shots. I wont go into what happens, because it's best to be experienced without knowing before hand. But expect to hear nothing but good things about this film. I've never read the book, so I couldn't say how it compares, but it truly is a great film.
Then there was this longer piece by The Spikey Spartan. And together - their takes on the film have me beyond excited. Here ya go, watch out for spoilers in this one...
Alfonso Cuaron confuses me. Maybe "amazes" is a better word for it. He makes the best Harry Potter movie (in my opinion), he made a great coming of age movie with Y Tu Mama Tambien, he did children's fantasy with The Little Princess, and now he's channeled his inner-Kubrick and made a drama set in the future with The Children of Men. Good for him
diversify, my father always said.
I found myself confused several times throughout the movie, trying to grasp on to what exactly what happening. But the story is actually quite simple: It takes place in 2027. It has been 18 years since the last baby was born in the world. Something has happened and all of the world?s people have been rendered infertile. In the ensuing years, the world has basically turned to shit. Especially in London, where this takes place. Martial Law. Warring factions. You know how nasty that can get. Theo (Clive Owen) is a former activist who gets pulled into quite a "Hero's Journey" when he's asked by his estranged ex-wife (Julianne Moore) to make sure a girl gets out of the madness and into safety. You see, this girl is pregnant and she and her baby hold the keys to the survival of the human race. This journey (near odyssey) introduces us to a slew of characters who threaten to undermine the mission, those who are martyrs for the mission, and those who just can't accept that the mission is actually happening at all.
Clive Owen is forced to carry the picture and does a good job with it. He knows how to play the reluctant hero and grounds his character with the same disbelief and exhaustion that I felt at times. Julianne Moore doesn't stick around for a whole helluva lot of time, but works well as the catalyst for the story. In the fucking brilliant category is Michael Caine. He plays Jasper, an old pot-smoking hippie buddy of Clive's and it seems to be that this wasn't one of the roles the old pro took for money. He sells the hell out of this and it's nice to see this nice, proper British institution of a man toking some weed ("Strawberry Cough," he calls it) and being a laid-back, but vital, part of the journey.
So let's talk about Mr. Cuaron. What he has crafted here is, simply, the most disturbing view of the future I've seen. Now, I've seen a lot of movies and way too much TV. So, like you, I know how poorly the future can be painted on the big screen. This, though, is so fucking effective because it seems so real. It's pure "dare I say it " cinema verite. In the future, that is. With just about every shot and every bit of production design, he has created a raw look. A very real look. Lots of handheld camera, but not shaky-cam. Lots of long, moving takes, but not crisp dolly shots. And, yet, because of the tone and the vision, I kept thinking that Cuaron, like I said before, was channelling Stanley Kubrick more than anyone else. He puts the audience in the middle of the turbulent urban violence but directly into the heart of the drama. This is how a good documentary would capture Theo's journey. It's insanely well-directed.
Now, when we watch documentaries, there's a lot we take for granted and there's a lot that gets explained via narration or text. Here, we get nothing. We get no long speeches which set up the storyline, we get no solid explanation of the factions at war, and we get all the benefit of the doubt that we'll pick up on the important bits of information through the dialogue. I applaud this. But, maybe my mind wandered a few too many times when I couldn't quite latch onto what was happening and why. There are classes of citizens Fujis (Fugees?) and Zens and, worse, Zen-Fujis who are basically the lowest form (read: poorest) of people. There are strange prison situations. There's basically a lot of shit in the background of this story that I didn't quite pick up. The good news was that I could always just ease back and know that the point of the story was just to get that girl (named "Key") and her child to safety.
So, what am I left with here? I can honestly recommend this movie to those who feel like science-fiction and films about the future have been co-opted by flying cars. It's got a little Clockwork Orange in it. A little 28 Days Later. A little bit of The Wall. A little Blade Runner. And a whole lot of **insert war documentary here.** I can't say that it was a fun movie, but I don't think that was necessarily it's intention. Minority Report it is not. It is, though, a movie that I respect and a movie that I gotta give a second look at. It kept me interested and entertained, but it's probably one of those things that the allegories and metaphors become clearer on repeated viewings.
We don't get a ton of previews here in Mountain View, California. We don't get A LOT of stuff here. So, I'm pretty proud to be able to write in about this movie. if you print this, call me The Spikey Spartan.