Sunday, January 21, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It snowed today, while I assembled IKEA furniture and watched playoff football.   Some of you may recall that I made two ill-advised bets in Vegas after Christmas with funds garnered from a double whammy of getting the victory and the over in the Holiday Bowl.    The first-- NYG to win the Super Bowl at 40-1-- was laughable; they faded away miserably in the wild-card game.   The second was one I seriously intended to win: NE at 6-1.  And right now I think I've got that locked up.   Peyton's got too much baggage to win this one, and I'll give you two great quotes to help us laugh at him:

We're talking about our idiot kicker who got liquored up and ran his mouth off.

I'm trying to be a good teammate here. Let's just say we had some problems with protection.

Of course, as I type this, it's now a one-possession game and Peyton's driving.   I'm calling it now: he runs for President within twenty years.

So this post isn't about Peyton.   I want every post to have a purpose, even if it's grousing about the people in my building who annoy me or carrying on about some date.   But that's for another time.   We have a film review today at Katzenklavier,  from a live viewing referred to in an earlier post.

I  chose a terrible venue to see Children of Men.    The Dupont Loews is a little art-house with what seem like twelve-foot-high screens and theaters that feel like screening rooms.   It's basically a first-run version of the Academy, which some of you may know.   The advantage of the Academy was that it was poorly attended, and you could find yourself alone in the theater, except for the mice, and as long as they're not too active it's a great way to spend an evening out solo or dated.  

Oh hell, they've tied it.   I'm such a jinxer. 

I sat up front and was privy to the annoying conversations of Dupont couples and groups, mostly drunk and younger than me; I was honestly surprised at how well-attended it was, considering the schtick of the film: both serious and genre.    Yikes.    I won't spoil anything not already in the previews, which is a blessing and a curse.    The setup: 2027 or thereabouts, and people stopped having babies 18 years ago.   The world is in flames and this blessed isle, this white rose, this fried gobbet of fish, this England is the last bastion of civilization.   Except even they've tended toward martial law as everyone else in the world tries to emigrate there all while everyone becomes understandably crushingly depressed.

Clive Owen plays this guy, who's a run-of-the-mill bureaucrat, long grown out of his youthful activism.    He's brought out of what basically is him running the clock out on life by his old flame, Julianne Moore, who he hasn't seen in twenty years and is running a revolutionary organization.   She convinces him to use his influence to get traveling papers for someone, and the movie takes off from there.   This someone is a macguffin-- a pregnant woman, the first in almost twenty years, and the film follows Owens' journey to get her to some offshore research installation.  

Tom Brady steps up.     This is gonna be a good one.     There's a challenge on this TD, though.

The feel of the movie was remarkably similar to 28 Days Later but is helped by a much stronger sense of characterization and, let's face it, not being about zombies.    It was a little tough for me to accept Owen as a good guy after having seen Closer (in the theaters, twice) wherein he plays perhaps the least broken member of a colossally broken foursome (Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, Jude Law).     I wish I had read my dad's copy of Herbert's The White Plague when I was younger; I seem to remember it had a very similar plotline.    Maybe I'll order it from Amazon tonight.  

There are so many nice touches that mark great worldbuilding in a film like this: little scenes or characters that build a sense that there's real subcreation going on and the storytellers have put a lot of thought into everything.   I'm talking about Julianne Moore's character, Michael Caine's hinted-at past, Owen's brother/friend who collects art rescued from the torched cities of Europe, the subtle hints that it's the near, not far future, and the constant attention to detail in every scene, even when attention to detail means making everything as dirty as possible.   I particularly liked the understated religious symbolism throughout-- the baby born to save the world arriving in "such mean estate", and Clive Owen taking a bullet in the side as part of saving the life of mother and child...maybe I've taken one too many English classes, but as a result some of the scenes that could have been treacly and eyerolling were quite moving.

Indy's making another move.   Damn.

The refugee camps that feature very obvious Abu Ghraib references rang a bit of a wrong note to me; I don't like being preached at, and it could have been handled with more delicacy.     But that's a quibble. If you're at all into well-done sf, you should see this, and even if you think sf is all about Ren Faires and doors irising into crappy libertarian commentary, you should still see it: it's great filmmaking, too. 

It's stopped snowing.   Not soon enough: the commute in the morning will still be insane.   I'd better go stock up on bread, milk, and toilet paper...if there's any to be found.   It was two whole inches of powder, after all.

And now another Holy Roller to tie it up! Somebody wake me up.   


Ian said...

I wish I had read my dad's copy of Herbert's The White Plague when I was younger; I seem to remember it had a very similar plotline. Maybe I'll order it from Amazon tonight.

Eh, you might want to skip it. It's a decent read, like most books by Herbert, but the main character is... unconvincing, and the climax and aftermath underwhelm.

Thanks for the review, though! I'd completely forgotten to go see this movie.

Anonymous said...

Fuck Tom Brady.

-Michael Hill