Now that’s what I call dystopian!
My head is still spinning from “Children of Men,” a movie best described as “devastating.” Kind’ve a “Handmaid’s Tale” meets “The Pianist,” Alfonso Cuarón gets how to sell a high concept speculative fiction world. The key is in the details. This is why movies like “Brazil,” “Dawn (and Day) of the Dead,” and “Starship Troopers” are lasting works of art and something like “The Matrix” or the on-the-face-of-it-similar “V For Vendetta” is a hunk of turd. When thought, care and intelligence are used in creating a total world that has an internal logic, that is when a project like this is successful. The story is gripping from the first shot and continually riffs on its own premise. There are leitmotifs within leitmotifs (who didn’t love seeing Japser’s lazy tabby cat?) and much of the actual plot is gleaned from observing the mise-en scene, the newspaper clippings, TV ads, photos, buttons, t-shirts — kinda just like in real life. For a movie that is, ostensibly, a wall to wall action picture, there are a lot of story elements that are just hinted at. There’s just enough info to let you fill in your own gaps, little hints at complete other worlds within this universe. This is the hallmark of a very mature filmmaker.
Let’s talk about Alfonso Cuarón. “Y Tu Mama, Tambien” is a marvelous picture. His “Harry Potter” movie, like all the “Harry Potter” movies, is unwatchable. And. . .that’s all I know about the guy. I’m gonna have to dig up his earlier stuff. Because “Children of Men” is one of the boldest technical pictures I’ve ever seen, ever. There are choreographed long takes in “Children of Men” of such remarkable fluidity that they make Brian DePalma’s “Snake Eyes” look like a hip-hop video. And all of these long takes are completely motivated by the story — such that there were times when it took me moments to realize on a conscious level that I was seeing a marathon long take (and yet, my unconscious was being squeezed through a nervewracking excersize in perspective.) I can’t wait to see “Children of Men” again just to analyze these sequences. But I’ll see it on DVD. I don’t think I could emotionally handle another viewing in the theater.
Lastly, cruising through modern London at the end of the world blasting “In The Court of the Crimson King” — totally fuckin’ sweet. “Y Tu Mama. . .” had Zappa’s “Watermelon in Easter Hay” over the closing credits if I’m not mistaken. Who doesn’t love this guy?