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Children of Men (2006) - Alfonso Cuarn

PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 8:58 am
by wpqx
Well good lord is all I can say. It is clear from the start that Cuaron is putting us in his own world, a place far removed from anything we may be familiar with or have seen before. Taking a reversed stance from nearly every science fiction film set in the future before, Cuaron reverses the problem plaguing mankind. Birth control isn't an option, there seems to be no shortage of resources, but oh lord the world has certainly turned to @#%$ because there are no babies being born. In one brief scene we hear about the strange phenomenon starting, but there is no real explanation for the world's infertility, and that's fine with me.

Cuaron has made some interesting pictures over the years, bouncing back and forth between north and south of the US border. Children of Men takes him off to England, and a London that looks like it never rebuilt itself after WWII. The refugee camps, called fugees here as one of the numerous references to music, are indecipherable from the military ghettos that the nazis horded Jews in during that war. Nearly all the refugees we see are partially crazy, muttering to themselves and walking around hysterical all the time. It is no doubt because of the traumatizing effect of being captured. Working so hard to make it London, and when rounded up, they are randomly beaten, literally thrown in cages, and no intention of ever actually deporting them happens. The government would rather just put them in a ghetto under lock and key and guard them like prisoners.

Clive Owen's somewhat detached manner makes him channel his inner Bogart. His Theo is every bit the sentimentalist former idealistic freedom fighter Bogart's Rick Blaine was in Casablanca. A man with a few loyal friends, who may say he's doing something for the money, but when back in the fight he quickly remembers what made him such a revolutionary in his younger years. This is brought back slightly when encountering his former lover Julian (Julianne Moore), who parted ways after the death of their child. Cuaron pulls a Hitchcock trick ala Psycho on us 20 minutes into the film, but it isn't even this that makes Theo accept his responsibility. It isn't until he discovers the plans of this organization that he resumes his heroic past, but for a much more noble cause.

The entire film was shot hand held, even the short shots. Much of the film enfolds in long takes, and towards the end, Cuaron and his camera men pull off what can arguably called the most impressive single take I have ever seen. I can't quite describe it, but it goes on and on, and takes us through several parts of the ghetto, and in true guerilla fashion, even some blood spurts onto the camera lense. Whereas many modern films may begin with a attention grabbing take (and this film had a pretty good one at that), this shot is saved for the climax and good lord its amazing. Cuaron has been making tremendous roads as a filmmaker, but nothing he has done before even hinted at the magnitude of this film. He has achieved something completely extraordinary and unique here. Quite possibly the film of the year.

Grade A

Re: Children of Men (2006) - Alfonso Cuarn

PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 9:28 am
by justindeimen
Glad to hear you had the same thoughts. I ranked it as my favourite of the year as well. I loved the air of resignation throughout the film, even with the shock treatments. From the beginning's 'shock', to the middle's 'shock' to the end's less shocking but no more downbeat ending, with just a glimmer of hope. Although it has to be said, I think there were some silent edits to the single takes, but no less impressive as they unfolded.

I'm in a rush right now, would love to talk more about it when time permits.

Re: Children of Men (2006) - Alfonso Cuarn

PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 7:01 pm
by wpqx
Well considering I watched this right after Pan's Labyrinth, that was a film that drew attention to the editing, and it got to a point where everytime the camera panned across a tree, I expected a cut on the other side. This film is like The Road Warrior mixed with Battle of Algiers, which does nothing to describe it.

Re: Children of Men (2006) - Alfonso Cuarn

PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 8:37 pm
by peppajaa
Regarding the comment about the hand held camera work on this film. . . . . at least the individuals holding the cameras had the good sense not to jerk the cameras all over the place as they did in Babel and drive me out of the theater with nausea. I guess some directors and cinematographers think it is trendy and cool to put that bit of realism in a film, but I'm thankful to those filming Children of Men that they considered the affect on the audience. Urgency, etc. may be achieved on film without making the audience ill.

Peppa

Re: Children of Men (2006) - Alfonso Cuarn

PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 10:17 pm
by arsaib4
I'm going to have to disagree with the comments regarding Babel. While Children of Men is a great technical achievement, no doubt about it, I believe in its own way, so is the Irritu film (it won the Technical Grand Prize at Cannes last year and has received various other mentions in formal categories). I plan on watching the film again next week (it's still playing in theaters here even though the DVD came out about a month ago), but compared to his earlier efforts, especially Amores Perros, I didn't think that the camerawork drew as much attention to itself.

Re: Children of Men (2006) - Alfonso Cuarn

PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 10:28 pm
by wpqx
I don't think the camerawork in Babel was as noticeable as Children of Men, but that doesn't make it better. Cuaron's film will most likely come within my top three of last year, Babel won't even make my list.

Re: Children of Men (2006) - Alfonso Cuarn

PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 2:46 am
by arsaib4
Well, that's wonderful to know, but I was responding to an earlier comment about camera being "jerked around," and wasn't comparing it to Chidren in regards to the value of steadiness.

Re: Children of Men (2006) - Alfonso Cuarn

PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 3:22 am
by wpqx
Sorry to get off topic, damn if these bastards would ever return DVD's to facets I'd be able to make my list for last year.

Re: Children of Men (2006) - Alfonso Cuarn

PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 10:40 pm
by arsaib4
I resubscribed to Netflix a couple of months ago to catch up with the new releases. A Facets membership is tempting but the shipping charges are relatively high, especially for video tapes.

Re: Children of Men (2006) - Alfonso Cuarn

PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2007 11:11 pm
by wpqx
Facets is very select with import DVD's. They have a few but not enough to really get excited. I found out there is a UK release of Sons and Lovers as well as Way of the Stars, but neither are available here.