I'm not going to lie, it's been awhile since I blogged; and yes, I know I promised I'd finish this countdown before the end of February. Although time is rapidly disappearing, not all hope is lost! I could go totally out-of-character and mass post over the final 5 days of the month, and after this I'll only have 5 more reviews.... coincidence? Yes, definitely.
Anyway, my crude, self-deprecating sarcasm aside, I've got a self-imposed countdown to continue... and what better way then forcing out a recent flick?
I originally saw this movie in late November, when it was released in England first. I found this fairly ironic, and definitely raises the question of what constitutes a film's nationality... since the director was Mexican. But alas, this was certainly not a Mexican film (push the stereotypes of immigrant workers and sombreros out of your head - that's not a Mexican film). And a few months later, people and friends started coming to me asking "have you seen this film? you should see this film!"... Sometimes I wonder if I'm just too far ahead of even my own people (I am).
But alas, Alfonso Cuaron's film Children of Men is definitely worthy of this list; although in all fairness, upon first watch it somewhat washed over my eyes and brain. But on my second watching, so much more fell into place; and a key thing to note here is that I was about two months apart in the viewings, after I started getting peer reviews. So I gave it a second chance; and subsequently, it's why it pops up on this list after some reshuffling.
The cinematics are fairly memorable throughout; and what struck me most is how plausible Cuaron makes a fairly ridiculous storyline. The action sequences aren't necessarily super-gratuitous - in fact, when thinking about all but one rationally, they're very plain - but yet, Clive Owen's actions coupled with the supporting actor/tresses make each action, each decision seem like it's what an ordinary person would do; in many ways, Owen is shot and cast as the unfortunate, clueless, lucky hero - he falls into the plot and survives a lot from strangers' actions. However, I have to admit that the final action sequence is by far and wide astounding - for a number of reasons.
First of all, it's done almost entirely in 1 shot, and easily less than 20. A long tracking shot follows Owen as he attempts to evade death while trying to rescue the child. Although it's actually two shots disguised with an extremely clever edit, to the untrained eye it looks like one super-long, super-intense shot that gives the viewer the feeling that they are trying to survive and hide from the gunfire. Although I'm apt to say it's a homage to Orson Welle's Touch of Evil, I actually think that it's just an opportunity to give a super-organic feel to a massive disaster in action.
Secondly, I admire this shot because of how real it is; I've touched on this already with the organic mention, but what my friend pointed out to me (and what ultimately made me realize it wasn't one long shot) was the fact that when Owen gets on the bus, you see a splatter of blood hit the camera lens - a splatter which stays on the camera as Owen escapes down the street. In an era of newsreel footage and a stress for "realism", this shot really does a fantastic job in putting the viewer in the action and not messing around with spacial awareness (as in, you know where everything is in the shot because they're no edits).
The story itself is well-written; and Cuaron makes great use of little quips and small throwaways that really pad the story's plausibility (like the TV footage of "Britain soldiers on"). There is a lot of little things that the viewer can pick up on each time they watch it; which really gives the film a rewatchable value.
Of course, my reviews have really focussed heavily on cinematography thus far; something I didn't entirely expect because I'm usually a narrative guy. But this is no typical countdown; so screw typical reviews.
Soon... possibly tomorrow: #5?