Monday, January 08, 2007
My message today: GO SEE "CHILDREN OF MEN." I saw it twice over the weekend, cuz I couldn't believe my eyes the first time and had to make sure it was as great as I thought it was. First time, the darling spousette nearly left the theater because the despair and dread and sheer human agony in this movie just about did her in, but I came out thinking: I haven't been grabbed like that by a movie in years. Took my dad the second time, and thought: I haven't been grabbed like that by a movie in years, and I saw the same movie two days ago. Even better on a second viewing.
I'm not sure you can find a more perfectly realized dystopian world on film, and there have been some great ones (A Clockwork Orange, 1984, Brazil, the first hour of Minority Report, 28 Days Later -- isn't that the title of that great horror movie a couple of years ago, the one about the rage virus? -- to name but a few). I swear, this beats 'em all. I was sucked into it from the first scene, and never doubted it to the very end.
There's been a lot written about the uninterrupted eight-minute shot, and how Alfonso Cuaron rehearsed cast and crew for twelve days to get what may very well be the most complicated combat sequence every recorded in one go. I was all set to be amazed by this fabled shot, but was so caught up in the movie the first time that I completely forgot to look for it. The second time, I could barely believe what they pulled off in that eight minutes. It's as masterful a piece of directing, design, effects, and camerawork as I've ever seen. Gotta get my hands on a script, so I can see how much of the finished film is in the screenplay.
There's also the slowest yet most suspenseful chase scene ever, involving a car that has to be jump-started. And Clive Owen is superb. And Michael Caine is sublime. And Julianne Moore (spoiler! read no further if you haven't seen it!) does one of the best jobs of dying on film since my brother in Full Metal Jacket.
There's a topic for comments: Great film deaths. Who died and made you remember it?
I seem to recall Kevin Spacey's eyes going really dead in L.A. Confidential. I wonder if that was all him or if they did something in post-production to enhance the effect?
Probably my favorite film death of all time is the old Inuit guy in A Map of the Human Heart, alone on an ice floe, imagining a reunion with the woman who's been his soulmate since they were kids. Can't remember the actor's name. Jason Lee? Is that right? Anyway, it's not so much his performance as the cumulative effect of the story. Kills me every time.