Saturday, January 6, 2007

Jason Watches "Children of Men"

And Alfonso Cuaron's sci-fi thriller about a near-future world where humans are infertile is as good as the reviewers say. I've added a link to Rotten Tomatoes, a movie review compilation site, to this blog (look to the right). "Children of Men" has a 93% fresh rating as of when I'm writing this. That's incredibly high, and it deserves it. The bleak future is fully realized, the camerawork is impressive (with several long elaborate tracking shots that sometimes cross over the line to showing off), the acting is great all around (particular kudos to Michael Caine, although he wasn't my favorite character he handled the burden of 99% of the exposition with clever humor).

Some thoughts--first, don't be fooled into thinking this is a simple political movie. It's about political people, but it's more about human nature, despair, and hope. And it's about how politics gets in the way of hope. Rather than taking a political side, this movie takes a humanist, anti-politics stance.

Second, for me the movie almost broke down under the weight of its premise. Not that humans became infertile--although it's unexplained that's the central premise and I went in ready to go with it. What started to bug me was that in this world an 8-months pregnant woman (Kee, played by Claire-Hope Ashitey) could exist without anyone knowing about it. Okay, for a while she could hide out with the secretive activist group known as "The Fishes", but once she leaves their compound how can nobody notice? I bring this up as an insight into how I watch movies. I love movies--I want to love every movie I see. So when I see something starting to bug me, rather than start hating the movie, I'll try to change how I look at it until it's something I like. So I thought about the fact that nobody is noticing that this woman is pregnant, and thought about what they are noticing instead. She's black, she's a refugee, probably an illegal immigrant (although it's not specified whether she's illegal, rounding up and deporting illegals seems to be the governments main occupation). So the fact that she's the salvation of mankind is lost in all the meaningless political fearmongering labels attached to her. And that idea--that humanity's obvious savior could go unrecognized because of ignorant, racist, fearmongering--is compelling. Do I believe were at a point where we wouldn't recognize a savior because of racism or xenophobia? Not really. If civilization collapsed could I belive it in 20 years? I like to think not, but I do find the idea interesting to think about. And more to the point, with a simple change of thought, I changed the one thing that kinda bugged me into one of my favorite things about the movie.

By the way, if you see it stay through the credits to listen to Jarvis Cocker's "(The Cunts are Still) Running the World". I loved it. I love it when a movie rewards me for sitting through the credits.

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