Monday, April 09, 2007

CHILDREN OF MEN



Movie of the week:
CHILDREN OF MEN

Will we really go crazy when the end comes?

What is the most destructive emotion? Is it hate? Or love? This movie suggests that the answer may be ‘despair’. The filmmaker might be on to something.

The story opens 20 years in our future. “Something” has happened 19 years previous (Let’s see. That would make it …… about a year from now), that has left the entire human race infertile. The last baby was born about 19 years ago. This may not seem like such a big deal at first, but consider the consequences – in about 80 years, there’ll be no one left alive. As the youngest generation passes through them, elementary school grades shut down one after the other – there’ll be no incoming class next year. Soon there are no children at all. No one to play ball with, no grandchildren to spoil, no one to ‘inherit the earth’. There’s no reason to conserve, and no reason to not pollute – they’ll be no new generation to inherit our problems, and make us feel guilty. There are no children to set a good example for – so anything goes. The population will dwindle from attrition. Slowly at first, but then at an alarmingly accelerating rate. Rules of society will break down because “what the hell?”, nobody really cares anymore. Shortages – fewer people to produce the goods you need and want. Unrest – riots - violence – anarchy – police state! Despair sets in and people will just go crazy!

It doesn’t happen fast. Folks have plenty of time to understand what’s happening. Youth, or what’s left of it, is a rapidly disappearing commodity. The youngest humans on the planet become world-beloved celebrities. At the opening of this story, he is “Baby Diego” – now 18 years old, and someone has just killed him - occupational hazard when you’re a celeb in a crazy world. And the world is indeed crazy. Much of the world has “moved on” as they say. Hints are that the US was destroyed by nukes, most of Europe has been sacked, and the rest of the world is not doing too good either. Only in England is there any semblance of order – but at a price! England has become a totalitarian police state. The military patrols the street. Foreigners, who escaped the downfall of their own countries and came to England, are rounded up and carted off to death refugee camps. Members of the growing uprising and the agents of the government both commit atrocities in order to blame the other. Paradoxically enough, with life in such short supply, it seems to have such little value. Maybe the value of life is not measured by supply, but by the promise of immortality. And if there are no future generations to make your mark for and to keep your memory alive ........ – bummer.

Our hero, Theo, formally a political activist, currently a cog in the wheel, is contacted by his ex-wife, who is still in the game. She needs him to help her transport a young foreign woman to the coast. Why? Because by some miracle, she’s pregnant! Because the future of the human race may rest with her. Because she’s in danger from all the political factions who would use her to further their cause. Their only hope is to get her to the coast where a ship from something called "the Human Project” may pick her up and bring her to a safe haven, and perhaps reproduce the “thing” about her that allowed her to become pregnant, and thus save the world. The problem is, nobody is really sure if the Human Project actually exists.

This is easily the best movie I've seen so far this year. I know we’re not far into the year yet, but I'm willing to bet that I won't change my mind by December (Of course, I haven't seen Grindhouse yet). I won’t tell you more than that. The rest is for you to discover. I will however, tell you why I liked it.

  1. It has a great visual style thats quite intense, not for the weak of heart. I like the intensity. At my age, there’s not a lot left that will get my blood pumping and my heart racing. It’s like aerobics – yeah, that’s it, watch this movie instead of your normal workout. I wonder how many calories you can burn off by watching a video (probably less than you gain from the popcorn you’ll eat during the show).
  2. I also like films that put effort into the details. There are a lot of cultural references that you may or may not get upon first viewing.
  3. One of those references has to do with the “Ark of the Arts”. What famous rock album cover is reproduced in the top photo (above).
  4. I’ve heard it referred to as a Sci-Fi Thriller. After thinking about it for a while, I can agree. It starts with an interesting premise, and follows the logical consequences of that premise. Good sci-fi is like that – just don’t expect any space aliens ……………. Drat! I gave it away!
  5. It has a great soundtrack featuring music from the 60’s and 70’s – because nothing gives a better sense of 20 years into the future as music from 40 years in the past. Doesn’t it?
  6. It is perfectly believable that, after all that’s happening and the human race is dying out and civilization has crumbled, that pot is still illegal.
  7. Director Alfonso Cuarón also made another FranksFilms recommended movie, Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN. Oh yeah, he also made Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – not too shabby.
  8. Appears on the IMDB top 250 at #152, between The Wild Bunch and Die Hard.
  9. Also, it scores a 91% on the tomatometer.
  10. The movie respects my intelligence. It doesn’t call me an idiot. It doesn’t call me a lame-o meat head who would rather be watching American Idol. It doesn’t call me a brainless, thoughtless nincompoop who needs to have his hand held and his tushie wiped and have all the answers and loose ends wrapped up and bottle fed to him through the built-in teat of his DVD player. …………and it doesn’t call me ‘s###-for brains’ – I like that in a movie.

I hope you enjoy CHILDREN OF MEN as much as I did.

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