Children of Men (2006)

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Here is an old review of mine that still applies to the way I feel about the movie today after having just re-watched it.

According to this movie, the onset of a bleak global future will begin in the next two years (Note: this review was written in 2007). In Children of Men, the last human baby was born in 2009 and the movie takes place in the year 2027, with the world’s youngest person just having been killed. It’s a drab futuristic world, one where a person might question their own continued existence as part of a daily routine. As it stands, there’s seemingly no hope for the continued survival of the human race. Or at least there wasn’t until somehow one girl ends the infertility string by getting knocked up with the world’s first human baby in almost 20 years.

Alfonso Cuarón and a team of writers adapted P.D. James’ novel for the screen, with Cuarón handling the directing duties as well. The cast is comprised of screen veterans and solid character actors, assembled to tell this tragic tale of a potential future humans may one day have to face. The story is decent and intriguing, if not filled with holes and mystery. Yet, Children of Men still manages to be a great film, despite any shortcomings related to storytelling or imagination.

The strength of the film (besides having the awesome Clive Owen onscreen for almost the entire running time) is almost entirely a technical thing. There are a few extended scenes in the film that were shot in one take, immersing the audience into the story, making you feel as if you’re part of this whole tragic occurrence. And these aren’t just five minute scenes of two talking heads that I’m talking about here. These are scenes that are so complicated that they had to invent camera equipment to film them in the best possible ways. Filmmaking like that is near impossible to turn away from, keeping you wrapped up in an almost unbelievable story.

Another particular stylistic choice that I really enjoyed with the film was the version of the future that they used. This wasn’t Hill Valley 2015 with amazing and eye-popping changes. There wasn’t the feeling that you were in a futuristic world. Sure the cars looked a little different, but they weren’t flying or anything. Everyone still heads to the coffee shop early in the morning for their daily pick-me-up and there aren’t any sass-talking robotic maids. Other than the whole infertility thing, that’s a future I could almost get behind. Actually, that would also take a load of my mind too. Hmm.

The only gripes I have with the movie is that it doesn’t feel like it gets going anywhere until Julianne Moore’s character has a life-altering experience, and then the movie becomes a high tension thriller. Some of it is relatively predictable, and the storyline definitely seems to take a back seat to show off some of the more dazzling camerawork. All in all, it’s not the happiest of movies to experience, but there’s truly some amazing things to witness in the film.

4 / 5

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Boogie Nights (1997)

The opening shot of Boogie Nights is a three minute long tracking shot that introduces almost all of the main characters of the film.  It is easily better than the entirety of Bucky Larson, which has a similar theme of a heretofore unknown becoming a big thing in the pornography industry.  This movie was essentially Paul Thomas Anderson’s first real studio film, and it is an epic spanning two and a half hours of late 70s to early 80s porn history.  And really all I want to talk about is Rollergirl (Heather Graham).

Or more specifically, the Rollergirl that I met years and years ago.  Back in the late 90s to early 2000s, I used to be a big bar goer.  There was this one club in Calgary called Outlaws, and every Wednesday night was Boogie Night there.  My work schedule worked out in favour of that, so I frequented it pretty much every week.  One of the first times I was there, our waitress was dressed up as Heather Graham’s character in this movie, Rollergirl.  She was gorgeous, stunning, and funny.  We’d buy her a shot, next time she came ’round she’d get our shots.  I don’t remember how it all happened, but I actually got a waitress’ phone number, and I’m pretty sure by the end of the night we were about to kiss and something happened.  I cling to silly memories like this for some reason.

Anyways, it’s a great movie, but the running time of two and a half hours certainly works against it.  I started writing this thing about halfway through the movie, and I’m pretty sure there’s still a quarter of it left to go.  It features spectacular cinematography, excellent acting, great writing, and a massive cast that all went on to bigger things, or died (Robert Ridgely).  This movie was a huge break for numerous careers, and without it we probably never would have There Will Be Blood which may be one of the greatest movies of all time.  Not for the prude of mind, it’s a dark tale of how fleeting fame can be and how devastating the burning out is.

Ugh, originally I was going with a 4 for the movie, but it’s just far too long.  There are so many little trims Anderson could make to the movie that would actually improve it, in my opinion that is.

3.5 / 5

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011)

Normally in a movie such as Crazy, Stupid, Love. there is one character or set of characters that are clearly defined as the bad guys, the jerks, the assholes, what have you.  There has to be a reason for people acting the way they do to one another, and usually it’s because they are missing characteristics that one would normally attribute to a “good” person.  In CSL though, that reason is clearly stated in the title, it’s just love, man.

Basic premise of the movie is that Cal (Steve Carell) and Emily (Julianne Moore) have been married for a long time, when all of a sudden Emily blurts out that she wants a divorce.  It turns out that she slept with David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon) for whatever reason and that starts this whole movie off.  Cal goes into a little depressing spiral, until one night, ladies man Jacob (Ryan Gosling) broaches the idea of tutoring Cal on how to become a ladykiller.  And if the movie was just that, well we’ve all seen that movie before and it’s not that interesting or funny anymore.  Thankfully, there are two more plotlines with other characters that all end up dovetailing into one of the most brilliantly written romantic comedy movies in awhile.

It’s not a “sexy” rom-com though, it’s got a lot of heart and realness to it that helps it stand above your run-of-the-mill rom-coms.  Carrell and Gosling are great, Emma Stone is as charming and amazing as I’ve always thought she was (seriously, if you haven’t seen Easy A yet, WATCH IT, it is excellent).  The point is, that none of these characters are cartoonish assholes.  They’re all real people with real emotions and even Bacon’s character, the one that you should hate most of all, well he’s a regular guy too.

Great movie, highly recommended.

4 / 5