Archive | 8:00 pm

Not-So-Little Children

21 Jan

Children of Men presents a really unsettling picture of the world, circa 2027: all women have been infertile for 18 years, there is widespread poverty, no clear leadership, and bands of rebels use militaristic efforts to forward their goals. It’s not a pretty picture. So when a miracle pregnancy is discovered, extreme measures are needed to keep the secret and not interfere with the birth. Enter Clive Owen’s character, Theo Faron, who is grappling with his own inner demons (his child died years earlier), and who is charged with protecting the mother. That’s about all I understood about the movie. There’s a bit more to it, and much of that went over my head. I was unclear about what the Fish were doing, why Julianne Moore was only on for about 15 minutes, what Michael Caine had to do with any of it, and how this movie, which is actually quite good despite my not following it entirely, could resort to things like a character (the mother) whose name is Kee and a ship named Tomorrow. They’re not exactly subtle symbols. But anyway, I didn’t want to see Children of Men when it first came out, but the good reviews changed my mind. And now that I’ve seen it, I can’t say I entirely agree, but I do still think this is a very good movie — largely because I was impressed by the vision of writer/director Alfonso Cuaron, and because I thought Clive Owen made an engaging hero. So I’m giving Children of Men a B+.

Second Helping

21 Jan

I always hate going to the movies after year-end awards have been handed out because I can’t help but be biased while watching the film. It’s like my inner critic is crying out, “Impress me!” And yet I do it anyway, mostly out of obligation because I want to be able to have seen the major Oscar nominees. So with that kind of mindset, I went to see The Queen on Saturday. And it’s a good movie, but I won’t be adding it to my top 10. I don’t want to make this a “refuting the awards” review, but I’ll add that Helen Mirren is good, and yet I can’t say it’s far and away the best female performance I’ve seen all year (not that I can think of a better one off-hand).

If you don’t know, The Queen basically documents the week following the death of Princess Diana from the perspective of Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth II. Of course, no one knows what really happened behind those closed doors, but the film posits that the Queen, not a fan of Diana’s, was stuck in her old-fashioned ways, and was reluctant to acknowledge Diana’s death publicly or, it turns out, privately. It took Blair’s intervention for her to change her ways. This is, of course, an interesting story, and the film tries to be insightful rather than rehash what we all lived through (for example, it discusses Elton John’s attendance at the funeral but doesn’t show his performance, and it shows that Blair did not come up with the term “people’s princess” all on his own). Mirren’s performance is appropriately stoic and not showy, and Michael Sheen’s (as Blair) is more engaging, but I don’t know, I sort of wanted more out of the film. And that’s why I’m only giving The Queen a B+.