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2007-01-10 - 12:31 a.m.

jordanianembassybombing1

1st, I keep forgetting to update this page. you are better off looking for new posts at

http://syrjustus.livejournal.com/

We know return you to your irregularly scheduled blog:

Children of Men

It is not perfect, there are several scenes that fail to hit the mark they are aiming at.

Now that I have that obligatory comment out of the way, I can say that it was one of the most remarkable movies I have ever seen.

I can’t say it is the best, or the most beautiful, however it is certainly one of the most powerful and thought provoking films ever made. Unbearably grim in many sections, terrifying and shocking as well, both for what is depicted on screen and also for the all too real possibilities it will leave you thinking about after the film is over.

The film is technically brilliant, the extensive use of handheld cameras heighten the realism without the gimmicky effect that so often accompanies this technique. Part of this is the choice of shot and camera direction, part is just plain good camera work. Other movies that have tried this often leave me thinking that the operator has Parkinson’s.

This movie hangs everything on its gritty realism though. The story is told almost entirely in close up POV shots, this brings the chaos of urban warfare right into your lap. It is not a comfortable place to be. The director manages to bring enormous amounts of tension and anxiety to this movie, there is an edge of your seat car chase scene that never moves faster than a person can run. So when things do explode I found myself holding my breath and gripping the seat arm. I also cannot think of a film that was able to convey a sense of dread or impending danger like this one does. Some scenes will leave you very shaken.

Sounds like fun huh? This is a grim film, but it is not heartless, and there is quite a bit of humor, though there were a group of people in our audience who couldn’t seem to distinguish between horror and comedy, and laughed at the most impossibly inappropriate times.
I was tempted more than once to turn around and tell them to shut up or get out, but...

(I’ve noticed this several times, a good example was when Saving Private Ryan first came out. During the beach landing scene a young woman near me burst out laughing only to be harshly hushed by the people around her. I chalked that one up to nervous anxiety, but since then I’ve moved more towards the “there is something seriously wrong with young people” argument.)

The depth of detail is exceptional. Much of the back story is told in a brief overviews of newspaper clippings, of part of a news report, even key plot points are only hinted at. Thank you Alfonso Cuaron for treating us like adults and not spelling things out like a 4th grade text book. There is true enjoyment in figuring things out for yourself.

The Future is very well imagined; there are no flying cars, no far out clothing. The hints that remind you are subtle, and never distracting. Movies set in the future almost always fall prey to the “look at all this cool stuff” trap. While it is there in the details, it never pulls you out of the movie, which emphasizes the main point of, “this really could happen” If the actors were wearing silver spandex coveralls and hopping onto hover busses, there would be a huge detachment from us. However the movie has to be set in the near future, or it falls into the “alternate reality” world of Jurassic Park. The way this movie balances the problem is perfect.

The movie is also very adept in its approach to its characters; people don’t always say the right things, in the right way, with perfect dramatic or comedic timing. Real people misunderstand things, or say silly things. The problem is that in movies this is so hard to do convincingly without it seeming like just plain bad writing. The hero never swaggers in and delivers a witty one liner. It is like watching a home movie, there is a very natural quality to the performances, it makes them accessible, and enables you to connect with them and feel protective of them in a way you never could with a too-cool action hero/heroine.

Nothing is black and white, or two dimensional. You often don’t know which side you are on, or even which side you are supposed to be on, there is no safe place.

But while the movie is stunning and it often left me breathless, it is the idea behind it that really struck home. The world rests on a fulcrum, and it can tip at any moment. This isn’t a new idea to me, but this film brings a reality to it that pulls several current trends together and weaves them into a very possible future that I hope people will begin to take seriously.

So will anyone get it? Probably not. As in it will not change choices we make or influence decisions on a nationl level.

2027 as imagined in the film is all too plausible. We don’t need a global pandemic of infertility to set something like this in motion, in fact the future as depicted in “Children of Men” is reality to many people of our world today. Heavily armed soldiers fighting guerrillas in the streets, civilians getting caught in the crossfire, people being segregated into camps based on ethnicity, bombs going off in markets, countries building walls to keep out immigrants. Refugees being rounded up and put into military camps. Militant insurgent groups kidnapping and killing people.

All that happens today, if you live “over there”

But it could never happen here… right?

That is a key point of the film. We see scenes like this on the news every night, but since it is happening to the “other” it is almost completely ignored. But when a little bit of the third world makes it’s way onto a subway car in London, the media is saturated for months.

“That could happen here!”

“Those people are just like us, they share our language, and they look like we do”

When 40 people are kidnapped and executed overnight in Baghdad, it might make page three. “Too bad for them…” “Let them kill each other, it’s not our problem”

The global population is growing exponentially, resources are not. There will come a time when wars will be fought over water and food resources.

We are at war right now to protect our economic interests in the Middle East, China is growing faster than anyone ever imagined. When China does something, it does it big. Copper has doubled in price, largely due to increased demand in China. China is the worlds second largest consumer of oil. China increased its oil imports 25% last year, and is expected to double the amount it imports by 2010.

China gets half its import oil from Iran.

Will we fight a war with China over Middle Eastern Oil reserves? I don’t know, but the idea of the US and China shaking hands and deciding to share seems unlikely. The US and Iran have become increasingly hostile toward each other, and China had continued to defend Iran by blocking motions to sanction Iran for it’s nuclear weapons activities. If the US Threatens to invade Iran ala Iraq, will China not defend it’s energy assets? We’ve fought one war there already for that reason, and are neck deep in another. We are alienating the Arab community while China is making friends.

Prolonged US presence in the middle east is all but a certainty, our economy is exceptionally oil dependant, we are the worlds largest consumer, and the largest importer, and we get the supermajority of our supply from the middle east. We can’t just walk away and let the chips fall where they may.

Conflicts in the third world are increasing in size and intensity, fueled by weapons from the first world. It’s no longer Ak-47’s in the jungle, it’s tanks and jets in the city. What makes us sure that these conflicts will not spill over into where we live? Or as is happening now, draw us into them to protect our own interests. We attacked positions in Somila yesterday.

Whether from increasingly taxed resources, political instability, or the looming threat of a global pandemic, the “world as we know it” is not nearly as stable as it may seem.

Can’t happen here? Look what happened in New Orleans when Government failed. Absolute Chaos. The LA riots, Seattle, when civil order breaks down it happens very quickly and it’s everyone for themselves when it does.

Imagine another large scale attack on the eastern seaboard. On September 11th people rushed downtown to see what was going on, next time there will be panic because people will expect the worst. Now whenever something happens in a major city, whether it is dead birds or a gas leak, “TERROIST ATTACK” immediately goes through peoples heads.

"Children of Men" convincingly portrays society’s reaction to these kinds of global problems. It is a vision of a future that is all too realistic, and equally disturbing.

Five Stars.

-Justus

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