Children of Men

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released from Arrow and the films on them.
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scalesojustice
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#76 Post by scalesojustice » Mon Jan 08, 2007 1:02 pm

caught this over the weekend and boy am i glad i did. not a single ounce of ticket buyer's remorse over this one. in fact, i'd pay to watch it again right now.

other than being a film that wow'ed me to the point of not being able to discuss it without tossing around huge generalities about its greatness, i really wasn't prepared for the unforgiving manner of the film. through and through the film leaves very little room for hope in the future. the brutality blindsided me and yet, i didn't find it all that absurd. perhaps there is an inherent fear with infertility that makes sense of the futility and anger and compells us to hope and care for characters as much as we do. We want them to succeed not because we like them, but because of what they stand for.

on a side note about the ending, i didn't find it to be completely "happy." as there are still uncertainties, despite the auditory clue. but, for myself, i needed that more hopeful ending because if they would have cut it sooner, i don't know if i would have been able to pull myself out of bed the next day.

EDIT: i don't think this has been posted. apparently, NPR did an interview with Alfonso Cuaron about the shots in the film. haven't given a listen yet, but it may be interesting.[/url]

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tavernier
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#77 Post by tavernier » Mon Jan 08, 2007 7:38 pm

The Children of Hollywood's Deformed Imagination

By Thomas Hibbs/National Review Online

Assisted by the splendid cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki, a superb performance by Clive Owen as Theodore Faron, and a lean script that throws us immediately into the midst of revolutionary activism against an oppressive political order, Alfonso Cuaron's film version of P. D. James's novel Children of Men is not so much a futuristic sci-fi film as a gripping meditation on what we already are. The stunning visual quality of the film provides access to a world much darker, but not completely other, than ours — a world in which humans have been rendered rapidly and bafflingly infertile and hence face the imminent extinction of their own species, members of whose last generation are known as the Omegas.

Cuaron, who has directed such solid films as A Little Princess and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, takes one of the many symptoms of malaise from the book — xenophobia about immigrants — and makes it the central issue of the film. For this streamlined film, the issue of immigration works as a dramatic framing device. But it also severely truncates, and in crucial ways inverts, the intellectual and political content of the story, so much so that the political and ethical implications of a “regime that combines perpetual surveillance with total indulgenceâ€

David Ehrenstein
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#78 Post by David Ehrenstein » Mon Jan 08, 2007 7:58 pm

So much for Children of Men not being about anything!

The National Review correctly identifies it as a threat to its neo-fascist "values" -- as do the Catholic neo-fascists at First Things. Add Armond White's withering disapproval and you know you've got a film that's really done its job -- kicking all the right people in the balls.

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John Cope
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#79 Post by John Cope » Mon Jan 08, 2007 8:10 pm

Thanks for posting this, tavernier. Yeah, this is kind of what I was afraid of and what I figured would happen. James is a very serious, introspective Anglican and I didn't presume that subtext would be carried over here. Though I'm sure the other prevalent themes make it worth watching, the removal of this aspect of James's thinking feels like a serious gutting of intent. Still, I'm sure that its overt absence made the film more palatable to many.

The book, BTW, culminates in a reconstitution of the baptism ritual by a character who does not understand it but is conscious that it once held great significance. If there is any hope at the end of the book, it lies in that recognition.

This once again circles back around to the whole argument over the Huston character and his "meaningless" reliquary of art--is it meaningless or, in Wittgensteinian fashion, is the response that drives such devotion acknowledgment of its implicit worth, whether that response is intellectually integrated or not? Damn. I really need to see this film.

As to David's comments: :roll:

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jbeall
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#80 Post by jbeall » Tue Jan 09, 2007 1:13 am

You roll your eyes at David now, but I would suggest that the real eye-rolling should be done at Armond White's review. It really was crap.

As to the National Review article, I thought it was good, even if I disagree with parts of it (and I'm on the opposite end of the political spectrum from the NR).

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Polybius
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#81 Post by Polybius » Tue Jan 09, 2007 4:00 am

David Ehrenstein wrote:So much for Children of Men not being about anything!

The National Review correctly identifies it as a threat to its neo-fascist "values" -- as do the Catholic neo-fascists at First Things. Add Armond White's withering disapproval and you know you've got a film that's really done its job -- kicking all the right people in the balls.
Agreed.

I'll take one of those neato rolleyes smileys, too.

TNR could manage to wedge in a cheap slap at John Lennon in the course of reprinting a recipe.

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miless
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#82 Post by miless » Tue Jan 09, 2007 4:49 pm

I'm quite happy that this movie is doing so well in theatres. it took #3 this weekend... which means that some Americans are finally watching a good movie... let's just hope that Universal realizes what they've got now.


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colinr0380
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#84 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Jan 09, 2007 5:46 pm

That video was very good and has me even more excited about getting the DVD soon (don't worry I'll try and get a copy of the PD James novel as well!) - I had been wondering whether they had worked the ID card issue into the film, so was interested to see it in one of the clips near the beginning of that video!

PsychoAU
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#85 Post by PsychoAU » Tue Jan 09, 2007 5:53 pm

I don't think it should even be nominated for Best Picture, much less actually win it. What that video doesn't highlight is the subpar writing and terrible acting. Sure, this movie could win Best Cinematography, but should not get Best Picture. Just because it looks pretty doesn't mean it should win.

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miless
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#86 Post by miless » Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:32 pm

PsychoAU wrote:I don't think it should even be nominated for Best Picture, much less actually win it. What that video doesn't highlight is the subpar writing and terrible acting. Sure, this movie could win Best Cinematography, but should not get Best Picture. Just because it looks pretty doesn't mean it should win.
I disagree... The acting was quite fitting (especially Caine) and the writing was lean and trimmed of fat.
In my opinion, it was the best film of 2006... true, I have not yet seen Pan's Labyrinth, Inland empire or any number of shitty Hollywood films... but CoM stands out even more so due to 2006 being a crappy year for film.

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#87 Post by David Ehrenstein » Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:42 pm

I couldn't disagree more. It was a great year for film what with Letters From Iwo Jimi/ Flags of Our Fathers, Shortbus, Quinceanera, Brothers of the Head, The Queen, Little Miss Sunshine, A Prairie Home Companion, Half Nelson, The History Boys, The Departed, This Film is Not Yet Rated, Two Drifters, Broken Sky, and An Inconvenient Truth.

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miless
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#88 Post by miless » Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:53 pm

I disagree with most of those films... Flags of our Fathers was uninteresting (Iwo Jima, on the other hand, has some potential) Little Miss Sunshine made me cringe (mostly due to others reactions to it... calling it "the greatest comedy they'd ever seen" when I merely thought it was okay)... A Prairie Home Companion was unbearable (but I dislike the radio show immensely, and I found the film far too sugar-coated and nostalgic for my tastes). The Departed was nothing compared to the original, Infernal Affairs (but it was fun), This Film Is Not Yet Rated brought up some good points, but went into places that I found unnecessary (such as peoples garbage).

Yet again these are just my opinions.

Compare 2006 to 2005, with such amazing films as Caché, The New World, Mysterious Skin, Brokeback Mountain, Me And You And Everyone We Know, The Squid And The Whale, Broken Flowers, Downfall, Match Point, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, L'Enfant, Keane, etc. and 2006 looks a bit anemic.

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#89 Post by David Ehrenstein » Tue Jan 09, 2007 7:15 pm

Yet again these are just my opinions.
And they ain't worth much!

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exte
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#90 Post by exte » Tue Jan 09, 2007 8:15 pm

miless wrote:Compare 2006 to 2005, with such amazing films as Caché, The New World, Mysterious Skin, Brokeback Mountain, Me And You And Everyone We Know, The Squid And The Whale, Broken Flowers, Downfall, Match Point, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, L'Enfant, Keane, etc. and 2006 looks a bit anemic.
Anemic, perhaps, but The Squid and the Whale?

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Michael
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#91 Post by Michael » Tue Jan 09, 2007 9:00 pm

I can't complain about 2006 because so many good ones are still being released ... in other words, they're late. At least for this part of Florida where I'm living. And also 2006 gave me a couple of delightfully moronic films: Crank (which my partner likes to describe as "the future of cinema") and Jackass Number Two both films I can't recommend enough.
Last edited by Michael on Tue Jan 09, 2007 9:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

leo goldsmith
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#92 Post by leo goldsmith » Tue Jan 09, 2007 9:03 pm

This thread is becoming really annoying.
David Ehrenstein wrote:
Yet again these are just my opinions.
And they ain't worth much!
Nor are yours, if you think Shortbus was great. Now there's a badly written film with terrible acting.

And while I'm at it ...
PsychoAU wrote:subpar writing and terrible acting
Come again? Explain this for me please, so that the next time I see a film with a script as tight and thoughtful and acting as consistently outstanding as Children of Men's, I'll know that I'm actually mistaken.

David Ehrenstein
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#93 Post by David Ehrenstein » Tue Jan 09, 2007 9:34 pm

Shortbus is sublime -- the Moon is Blue of the millenium. To quote Jean-Pierre Melville "Your lack of taste is appalling."

leo goldsmith
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#94 Post by leo goldsmith » Tue Jan 09, 2007 9:44 pm

Quote Melville all you like (and maybe in another thread), but it won't make John Cameron Mitchell's paper-thin characters and vaginaphobia any less laughable.

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Galen Young
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#95 Post by Galen Young » Tue Jan 09, 2007 11:25 pm

miless wrote:I disagree, extremely, with the notion that this film is Spielbergian in any way.
I have to disagree. Just compare the ending of the novel to the new ending in the film. As P.D. James herself has said: "The detective novel affirms our belief in a rational universe because, at the end, the mystery is solved. In 'The Children of Men' there is no such comforting resolution."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the only Spielberg film that I can think of that doesn't have a "comforting resolution" is Munich, no? To say that the five screenwriters "Spielbergized" the ending isn't meant as disparagement of Spielberg, but as a simple observation. ( and I'm one of the few people on this board who seems actually likes Spielberg films!) As compared the ending of the novel (which is much more political and harder hitting than the film), the film definitely feels like it has a typical Spielberg denouement.

I love the film and can appreciate it for what it is, its just after reading the book it's a pretty big shock to learn what it could have been.
miless wrote:I think that this was one of the best films of its kind, up there with Haneke's Time of the Wolf.
I would say that Haneke is far more of a so-called "auteur" than Cuarón is at this point.

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miless
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#96 Post by miless » Wed Jan 10, 2007 5:25 am

My main problem with Spielberg is that it seemsas if he's trying to raise, and deal with, some major issues... but he then totally undermines his intentions with cookie-cutter endings (the most powerful ending imaginable for a film such as Minority Report, for me at least, would be to have the fascistic government step in and seize control of the operations and continue the project on as normal, leaving all the individuals' attempts at change to be futile... therefore calling for a change in modern thinking to solve the issues of tomorrow)
I cannot, however, comment upon Munich, for I have not seen it.
Galen Young wrote:
miless wrote:I think that this was one of the best films of its kind, up there with Haneke's Time of the Wolf.
I would say that Haneke is far more of a so-called "auteur" than Cuarón is at this point.
of course Haneke far more an "auteur" (especially since Cuarón is extremely inconsistent)... but maybe this films success will allow Cuarón to blossom (or just get sucked further into the machine, a la Ridley Scott)

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Steven H
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#97 Post by Steven H » Wed Jan 10, 2007 12:15 pm

That NR review was terrible. Cuaron didn't even finish the book, why compare it to the film? Your better off pretending it's an adaptation of the last five years of Adbusters (a lot more productive commentary could be made about that, at least). The childlessness premise seems merely a jumping off point for a film that is about world politics now, and "then", a far more visceral and combative idea than merely pondering philosophically about religion and morality. This film shows us the nastiest aspects of human nature reflected in dangerously ramped up versions of the real world.

I agree with David about this being one of the best films of last year. The dense symbolism of the film is fascinating, rooted, I believe, in the current political forces driving out any vestige of cultural relativism, rather than purely xenophobic reasons for the immigration issue. It does attack the fragmentary and inhumanely radical nature of the left as well as the distrust, fear, Nationalism, and hate of the right, the latter being one of the most painful parts of my, and many others, daily life.

The "hyperreal" Saving Private Ryan battle scenes, take *all* the distancing out of the Sci-fi aspect, and put you directly in the way of "Falied State" bullets. The long takes build tension and let you inhabit Theo's character in the way Tarr's Werckmeister Harmonies makes Lars and his world of circus freaks and whales seem real enough to touch and be scared of. The film bypasses every other futuristic or apocolyptic film made recently (Minority Report, Gattaca, Code 46, what else?) and makes them look extremely out of touch and gutless (though the Brazil and Week-End touches were nice). The acting worked, though Moore was a little unbelievable near the beginning, and I honestly felt that Cuaron and Owen had made a convincing hero out of Theo by the end (something that this film might have been intolerable without.)

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#98 Post by David Ehrenstein » Wed Jan 10, 2007 1:42 pm

leo goldsmith wrote:it won't make John Cameron Mitchell's paper-thin characters and vaginaphobia any less laughable.
What vaginaphobia? John tried cunnilingus for the very first time in his life in Shortbus.

It's all up there on the screen, whether you like it or not.

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Barmy
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#99 Post by Barmy » Wed Jan 10, 2007 2:02 pm

Why does that tedious Shortbus have to be mentioned in every thread?

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tavernier
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#100 Post by tavernier » Wed Jan 10, 2007 2:15 pm

Because it's Ehrenstein in action.

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