Wednesday, December 27, 2006

At the Movies: Children of Men

I know this is a TV blog most of the time, but I did say in my very first post that it would feature "occasional comments on the books I'm reading or movies I've seen," and after watching "Children of Men" yesterday, I'm feeling the need to prostelytize. I don't get to the cinema as much as I did pre-fatherhood, but this is the best movie I've seen this year, if not in several years. I'm currently wrestling with my review of FX's "Dirt" (short version: mud), so I don't have the time or energy to explain why I love it so much. Thankfully, there's this series of tubes out there, so go read some of the reviews, and then after it's come to your local cinema and you've been lucky enough to see it, we can talk more in the comments.

I stumbled on this movie by virtue of Fienberg's capsule review, and it baffles me that it's not getting a major Oscar push, either by the studio itself or by the press, so I'm doing my small bit.

20 comments:

Scott T. said...

I'm pleased to see that this film has attracted such a passionate following, because I couldn't (and still can't) understand why such an obviously dazzling and moving and relevant cinematic experience was attracting so little attention from critics and awards groups. When the five of us at The A.V. Club got together for our consensus lists, CHILDREN OF MEN was #1 with a bullet (#1 on three lists, #2 on mine, #4 on the other), and I believe it will endure as one of the key movies of our time. Those single-take shots are I AM CUBA staggering, but the film succeeds most in detailing the future that we're currently shaping for ourselves. And what more could you ask for from science fiction?

Undercover Black Man said...

Apparently, this is that kind of movie... Makes the hardest-to-please viewers want to yell from the rooftops. Me included. I haven't felt this way since "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"... which didn't need any bloggers bearing megaphones.

Within the first 10 minutes, "Children of Men" had created a throughly convincing fictional world... using all the tools in the cinematic toolbox: the look, sound design, set design, performance. It's a great movie.

There's one thing that bugged me... a rather crucial element of CGI which I shan't discuss for fear of spoilering. I could deal with it, it didn't ruin anything for me... but I was instantly aware that it was CGI. And that registration of awareness was probably the only time I was a step removed from the amazing story unfolding onscreen.

Alan Sepinwall said...

UBM, I know exactly the moment you're referring to; it made me turn to Marian and say, "Hey, that's pretty good CGI," which I don't think was the goal. Ditto the tracking shot where the blood squib hit the camera lens, and we spent the next several minutes discussing how difficult it would have been to reset and start over.

Anonymous said...

You guys might be interested in this article. It ran in Sunday's Washington Post & details the friendship & working habits/history of CoM's Alfonso Cuaron and Guillermo Del Toro (director of the *other* stunning new piece of film-making, "Pan's Labyrinth").

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/22/AR2006122200176.html

Kristin said...

I'm glad to hear your rave review. I am a big movie fan, but also having children, I no longer go to the theater to see movies. I wait until they come out on DVD.

I keep an eye on the new trailers on apple.com, and this was one I discovered back in August or September. I knew of the book, though I had never read it, and was intrigued by the premise.

Anything about a bleak future, the end of the human race, etc. is of great interest to me. Now, you make me look forward to seeing it!

I was also dismayed, though, to see virtually NO ads on tv for this film and hardly a mention of it anywhere else.

Tina said...

The book, by the way, is highly recommended. I read it when it came out 10+ years ago and taking a second trip through it now. I can't wait to see the movie.

jim treacher said...

J. Hoberman is a miserable creep, but I can't wait to see this.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know of a nationwide release date? I was anticipating seeing this film om Christmas day, much too my chagrin that release was limited. Seems like it is becoming more and more prevalent for NYC and LA to get a movie weeks ahead of the rest of the country.

Taleena said...

I am leery of watching the movie because I love the book so much. I knew that they would not be able to keep the slow paced instrospection of the book, the quiet sliding into oblivion that characterized James' future world but the trailers I have seen of this make me apprehensive. Peter Suderman, with whom I generally agree is disappointed with the movie and so I am even more apprehensive.

Manuel said...

i liked the film, for all the obvious reasons. I'm not quite sure, though, what to make of the film's many political references. Part of me thinks this is all just tapestry. On the other hand, it's refreshing not to be hit over the head with some sort of message (aka the Sorkin method)

velvetcannibal said...

The film is stunning. I don't want to comment any more than that. I saw it tonight in Manhattan where the shows have been sold out every night since its opening. I think word of mouth is going to do a lot for this film. To those who haven't, go see it. Don't read the reviews. Just go see it and form your own opinions. You don't want a single element of this spoiled.

I haven't been affected this much by a film in years.

Anonymous said...

I immediately noticed the CGI in question. Obviously it would have been near impossible to shoot the scene without it. The friend I saw the movie with - a nice day of chinese food and movies on Christmas day - had no idea that there were any CGI elements.

Also - I've been screaming about this movie to whomever might see it. I think it's a brilliant, harrowing, scary, uplifting film that anyone who cares about the world at all should see.

Undercover Black Man said...

As Manuel said, there is the question of the film's politics. I want to see it again just to focus on that. Clearly by showing immigrants being rounded up into interment camps, Cuaron advances a vague open-borders sentiment. But that clashes with the dystopian world he's created. Wouldn't it be EVEN MORE reasonable and legitimate for Britain, under such a scenario -- a world in upheaval, to clamp down hard on immigration and protect its own citizens?

jim treacher said...

Jan. 5 nationwide.

Dark Tyler said...

I don't get it. If this is an american movie, how come it was released here in Greece 3 full months ago? Anyway, this was a stunning masterpiece, for me one of the best films of 2006 second only to United 93.

And it reminded me a lot of Y - The Last Man, which is one my favourite comic books. Altough I presume the book preceded Y. Anyway. Stunning. Breath-taking. Multilayered. I mean, the symbolism in this thing was shocking. After the civilized west manages to self-destruct, the hope will come from the thirld world. This is as humanistic as art can get. Man. What a film. Thanks for reminding it to me, Alan.

Manuel said...

Actually, Children of Men is a British- American co-production.

Anonymous said...

just got back from seeing it. I really Cuaron's past work (but not the Potter flick. the wholse series is a dust off!) and this film is VERY good but I couldn't help but feel that so much of pedestrain with a few bright spots sprinkled in. the guys is all balls talented but this is not, IMO, the best flick of the year (sorry, gonna take am ountain of flick to be as engrossing and entertaining as "The Departed" is).

that being szaid, there was one great, tour de force sequence towards the end and if you've seen it, you can guess which one I mean and I wept in the theater. Haven't cried in a flick in years but those two, three minutes and that squence made the film great, despite the roughness of the rest of it all.

dez said...

Finally saw this last night (screening was 3/4 full on a Sunday evening, which I think is good, plus the film was #3 at the box office) and found it very engrossing. The blood on the camera didn't bother me--made it more like I was watching a documentary, which I think was the intended effect because it made what was happening in that scene even more immediate. It's definitely one of my Top 10 films of 2006 (nothing I've seen so far, not even "Pan's Labyrinth," is knocking "The Departed" from the #1 slot or "Borat" from #2, though).

jim treacher said...

You guys are talking about the bee-eye-are-tee-aitch scene being CGI, right? Because I can't figure out any other way they could have done it.

Alan Sepinwall said...

That would be the one, Jim. I don't know how else they would've done it in a tracking shot, but that was one instance where I would have sacrificed the fancy camera moves in favor of a more traditional, less attention-calling method of showing that event.