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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bummerman Candyland

The imagery from Children of Men, last night's movie outing, is still haunting me. Reminiscent of Cuaron's earlier masterpiece, Y Tu Mama Tambien, when the screen pans across a desperate widow or a grieving mother on the side of the road, the camera lingers. You realize that the real story is there in that face. The main actors play out their narrative and take you through a world, but it's the environment in which the plot unfolds that is really the point. And that environment is incredibly immersive. As with the best of cautionary science fiction, Children of Men completely pulls you into its nightmare dystopia.

While Y Tu Mama Tambien was a brilliant parable about Mexico on the brink of a major political crisis, looking to its youth for the next generation of leadership; Children of Men operates as a meditation on the sanctity of human life and how society recklessly disregards that sanctity in the name of politics or personal gain. Cauron's first challenge is to create a plausible future world where the birth of a child could be the most sacred thing imaginable. Without spoiling the nuances of the film for you, I'll say that Cauron succeeds admirably. I was drawn in so completely, that I caught myself completely blown away when that miracle actually happens.

Thus entranced, Cauron next succeeds in getting the audience to identify with Clive Owen's character: An honorable man with a tragic past, who is now comfortably insulated... A man who has lost his faith in ideals... A man that numbs himself to the horrific state of the world with a steady flow of alcohol. This is the character (symbolic of all of us) that needs to be shocked into understanding that life is pointless if you've lost your faith in everything. We need to believe, we need to hope, we need to act toward some kind of goal rooted in principle. We need (as Michael Caine's brilliantly portrayed stoner hippy character points out) praxis. This point is hammered home so forcefully, that I felt a bit staggered afterwards. I felt my own commitment to social justice issues challenged. I felt disgusted by the horrors that lurk just around the corner if our world doesn't pay heed to the warning signs.

Cuaron injects a healthy dose of mystical Catholic imagery into the pic. Scenes that happen in mangers for no apparent reason, a joking reference to virgin birth, sacrifice and betrayal both in biblical proportions. This bothers me slightly because (to some extent) it's the Catholic Church that encourages overpopulation, which leads to the devaluation of human life that the film so effectively rails against. The imagery that sticks, and rings hauntingly true, isn't the Catholic crap though... it's the scenes of refugees. They recall Nazi concentration camps, our own internment of Japanese during WWII, Abu Ghraib, Guantanimo, and how we've already begun signing away our liberty to the forces of fascist fear-mongering.

While I wasn't wild about the musical direction, the film does effectively mine English peacenik folk-rock from the 60's and 70's. And (probably because of their anti-war anthems) the film pays brief (but startlingly obvious) visual homage to the cover of Pink Floyd's Animals album. I suppose if you set the film in England, you have to use English music. At the end of the final credits song, you actually hear the singer say "stop all the killing!" While this is obviously the point of the film, I would have preferred a more subtle approach.

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At 12/29/2006 11:24:00 AM, Blogger Yojimbo_5 said...

Also, high on my list of "ones to see." Just wish it weren't at just the one theater.

At 12/29/2006 03:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Cuaron injects a healthy dose of mystical Catholic imagery into the pic."

Really? So do Presbyterians use mangers? Do Baptists believe in the virgin Mary? What about the Anglicans?

The word you're looking for is Christian. Why do you limit your anger to a single denomination of the overarching religion? You could spew so much more vitriol slandering the big mama! Y tu mama tambien!

"This bothers me slightly because (to some extent) it's the Catholic Church that encourages overpopulation, which leads to the devaluation of human life that the film so effectively rails against."

Oy. The Catholic Church is not responsible for overpopulation. The fact that people really like having sex is responsible for overpopulation, and people like having sex regardless of what any church tells them (see "homosexual men").

The words "go forth and multiply" can be applied to anyone, anywhere. Most people don't even need to be told.

The Catholic Church has nothing to do with hair coloring products, Match.com, fishnet stockings, or countless other things that may eventually lead to the birth of a baby. In fact the Church is against most of that stuff (see "sex").

People are attracted to each other, hubba hubba. The Church can't stop human attraction, and it also can't enhance it. You might as well try to blame the Catholic Church for the invention of estrogen or testosterone.

What I saw in the movie was people being calm in the face of danger. The Zen-like calm of the main character made me think of Buddhism. And that made me angry, because as everyone knows Buddhism was initially responsible for the spread of A.I.D.S. in Africa.



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