He smiles as the puppets dance

So I guess my award to Pan’s Labyrinth for “best movie I’ve seen in 2007” has already been made obsolete, and much faster than I had really anticipated. Who knew that Children of Men would be so good? Oh, sure, everyone who’s seen it. But you know how hype is. Alas, no — this movie was the real deal. Intense, harrowing and grim, but never soulless. Between this and Pan, I think Hollywood needs to implement a new rule: Mexican directors only.

I knew Children was pretty much a lock for excellence as soon as I realized that Alfonso Cuaron had filmed a lengthy sequence entirely for me. It began with King Crimson, meandered through a look at art preservation, touched briefly on video game addiction and ended with a shot of an inflatable pig floating above the Battersea Power Station — from inside the station.

That’s what I’m talking about. FIVE STARS ***** BEST MOVIE EVER

(P.S., please do not confuse with “Children of Mana.” Huge difference.)

20 thoughts on “He smiles as the puppets dance

  1. I dunno if you caught it, but the floating pig is a nod to the cover of the Pink Floyd album “Animals”. (Not that I know a damn think about Floyd, but everybody around me at the theatre seemed to get the joke. Damned bastards.)

    That said, yeah, for better or for worse, Children of Men is the new Blade Runner. That is, if Blade Runner had aging hippies instead of eyeball cloning technicians and the bad guy from Serenity in place of Rutger Hauer.

  2. Ah, yes, someone else who gushes about that awesome sequence. As soon as I heard the opening chords of King Crimson, I was thinking “this is probably going to be the best sequence ever?” And the fact that the music matched perfectly to the odd circus taking place only made it better. It was a fantastic film.
    Crimson wasn’t the only highlight of the soundtrack either, it had everything to Aphex Twin, Kode9 and the Spaceape, all the way to freakin’ Penderecki. They also kept the soundtrack mostly British too (with the exception, of course, for modernist Polish composers). Cuaron ain’t no slouch!

  3. Does Clive Owen kill any rabites?

    …Sorry, my wife actually made that mistake before you ever mentioned it. Yes, in real life.

  4. Well the board seems to have devoured my previous attempt to comment, I shall try once more. I was very disappointed by Children of Men. I was expecting something that pleased even the snobbiest of film geeks and instead got “slow, preachy and pretentious.”

    This review pretty much sums up my thoughts on the film just well enough for me not to go into further detail.

  5. I dunno if you caught it, but the floating pig is a nod to the cover of the Pink Floyd album “Animals”.

    I’m at an impasse between the withering, condescending sarcasm this deserves and the fact that I like you and don’t want to be an ass. HOW TO RESPOND?

  6. Wikipedia said this about the album cover:

    “The giant, helium-filled pig seen on the cover was actually flown over Battersea Power Station for the photo shoot (under the direction of Storm Thorgerson). On the first day of shooting, a marksman was on hand in case the pig broke free. However, according to Thorgerson, this was considered an “insurance problem”, and he was not hired for the second day of shooting. Ironically, on December 3, 1976, during the second day, a gust of wind broke the pig free of its moorings. Because there was no one to shoot the pig down, it sailed away into the morning sky. A passenger plane reported seeing the pig, causing all the flights at London Heathrow Airport to be delayed. A police helicopter was sent up to track the pig, but was forced to return after following the pig to an altitude of 5,000 feet. A warning was sent out to pilots that a giant, flying pink pig was loose in the area. The CAA lost radar contact on the pig near Chatham in Kent, at a height of 18,000 feet and flying east towards Germany. It finally landed in a farmer’s field (without much damage). They then repaired the pig, and flew it up for a third time. The resulting pictures were not deemed suitable on their own (as the clear, blue sky from day three was thought to be much less evocative), and the final image was made as a composite of the power station picture from day one and the pig from day three.”

    I don’t want to fact-check it because it’s kind of cool.

  7. For me the situation was reverse. I caught Children last week and just saw Pan’s yesterday. Leaving me slightly disappointed at the mild decrease in awesomeness between the two, otherwise incredible, films. Seriously, CoM had me crapping my pants multiple times, during all the one-take action scenes. It’s going to end up as another one of those cult on dvd films, played incessantly in college dorms and late night geeks outs. Like The Matrix (damn shame they never made a sequel to that movie).

    Also, Parish, I dunno if you caught this, but the pig from the cover of Pink Floyd’s album “Animals” is supposed to be a reference to “Animal Farm”, a book that hated on fascists, just like this movie! Lol fascists!


    (This is what I get for spending my childhood listening to sea shanties and Tom Waits albums rather than Zeppelin/Floyd/ELO, etc. I’m a goddamned rock n’ roll retard, man.)

  9. Actually, the entire sequence is sort of the movie in a nutshell — “In the Court of the Crimson King” describes the rich living wantonly in hell, David (a symbol of youth and purity) is shattered, Guernica (a piece inspired by the human slaughter of the Spanish Civil War) is the only art shown to have survived intact… and then, yeah, the Orwell element of Animals. Not actually very subtle when you stop and think about it all.

  10. I really liked it, as well. Hell of a kick in the teeth, but it was really good. I wasn’t getting a preachy vibe out of it.

    The documentary-ish style, with some really long (and terribly complex) shots, had me in oh-goodness-I-dare-not-blink mode for most of the movie. Lots of bits that I liked, but they’re spoiler-ey to mention.

    If you see the preview, and it sounds at all interesting, then it’s probably a safe bet.

  11. I went to see Children of Men with no preconceptions, no knowledge of it at all, just because I was desperate to see a film and it was the only thing on at my cinema at the time that looked half-decent. In fact because I knew nothing I assumed it was American-made, meaning the future would be made of pearly white and computer neon and there would be an action sequence on a train, but I was happy to be wrong.

    I immediately recognised the pig balloon as a tribute to some album cover but I didn’t try to remember which one because it would have distracted me from the film.

    Still to see Pan’s Labyrinth. Not out where I am yet.

  12. Fun anal-retentive fact: the novel CoM was more of an anti-facist tale, yet all the blatant symbolism ended up in the movie.

    No complaints here, though, the music helped make it all better.

  13. “Does Clive Owen kill any rabites?”

    That kind of reminded me of my own Mana series/art juxtaposition from way, way back, entitled Secret of Nirvana, which in a nutshell, was Secret of Mana with Kurt, Krist and Dave as the three playables.

  14. I haven’t seen the film yet, but it seems to me that the obvious thing to do in a world without babies is to learn to live forever real quick. Problem solved.

  15. The Eliot (Wasteland) references gave me chills… but could have been better integrated. Not really a complaint, since I have no idea how that could even be done. But still. What might have been.

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