The MichaelVox Movie Review Weblog
Proudly Spewing Unsolicited Film Opinion Online Since 1996
January 3, 2007
San Jose CA -- Cinearts Santana Row
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After you've seen CHILDREN OF MEN, listen to the MichaelVox and Tassoula K. "Cinebanter" podcast, which is available here or at iTunes. But until then, here is a non-spoiler review.
Clive Owen is a government bureaucrat in London who is enlisted by his former lover to help a woman escape to the English coast and catch a boat to safety. It takes place in 2027 and the remarkable thing about this futuristic film is how I believed just about everything I saw as being plausible in the not-so-distant future.
Women are infertile and the youngest person in the world has died as the film opens. He was 18 years old. Fertility tests are mandatory. Illegal immigration is the worst possible offense. Suicide pills are dispensed over the counter to citizens who can't handle what their world has become.
It is bleak and sad and depressing, but at the same time, the sheer movie-making creativity is envigorating. There were action sequences that are among the best I've ever seen, and battle scenes, which take place between the English army and a group of dissedents that are unbelievably tense and compelling. Owen stumbles over debris and dead bodies, avoids being shot by both government and rebel forces, people are cut down in front of him, snipers shoot from above and the army responds with tank cannon fire, often in continuous shots. It was a marvel to behold.
The whole thing is shot in a dingy green. It reminded me of the great BLOODY SUNDAY where the English army is marching through the streets of Ireland.
This film succeeded as an action/war film, an indictment of present-day politics, a realistic future story, and a reluctant good-guy against the odds drama. Throw in a bit about future religions, nationalism, and the miracle of childbirth and you have the recipe for something truly spectacular.
It is a barely exaggerated version of the world today. Everyone gets coffee from a chain in the morning, everyone watches entertainment news--on their computer screens during worktime, there is distrust and a profound lack of communication between humans (also seen in BABEL). Newspaper headlines, radio reports, and grafitti give us valuable information from the edges of the screen. We learn all we need to about Michael Caine and his wife from a short shot of a collection of newspaper clippings.
I loved it.
2006 Oscar Nominations:
~~Cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki
~~Editing for Alfonso Cuaron & Alex Rodriguez
"The movie of the milenium" -- Slate.
"The best movie of the year" -- Washington Post.
"2nd best film of the year" -- Chicago Tribune
A -- LS Entertainment Weekly
A -- KP Onion AV Club
A -- PR Christian Science Monitor
***^ -- MP Chicago Tribune
***^ -- SS Premiere
***^ -- MB Film Threat