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Alfonso Cuarón - Children of Men


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saw this in an almost deserted cinema (it was 11am on Sunday though)

Brilliant stuff indeed, very realistic and thought provoking. Some ropey acting lets the side down a bit and it has far too many "fucks" in it, but apart from that a real milestone in recent british cinema.

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One of the greatest films I've ever seen.

Is this classed as British cinema? I fucking hope so, because we should be damn proud of it.

The walking down the stairs meeting the army was one of the most moving pieces of cinema I've ever watched.

Just to add that I bloody love dystopian stories, so if anyone wants to understand my- rather short -angle, there it is.

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How can you say that the action was the best you've ever seen in the cinema, and yet consider the film a big disappointment?

Action must not be a big deal for you, right-right?

I agree with the comments about the spoilerific trailer, though.

It’s because the amazing action was surrounded by a bland script, dull performances and annoying characters. 2 fantastic sequences couldn’t rescue what was a pretty dull movie, for me. If Alfonso Cuarón ever makes an action movie I’ll be first in line to see it but C.O.M left me cold.

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saw this today, pleasingly to a packed cinema (glasgow cineworld, maybe glaswegians have better taste than everyone else!).

it's really brilliant, one of my all-time favourites already i think.

agreed that the script is nothing special, but the direction is what makes it. the best parts are when the story is told visually, developing within the shot rather than through editing or exposition

like the ambush scene for example

- very impressive, making full use of the medium

i know what i mean at least, it's hard to explain.

the futuristic setting was so much more convincing than the usual bladerunner-y look sci-fi movies go for. pretty much like the present day but with more billboards and litter and slumminess.

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Just got back from seeing this and I loved it. Apart from the aforementioned spoiler that was in the trailer, I never really knew what to expect from this film all the way through.

I especially didn't expect...

Moore to buy the farm so quickly. I was also pleased that Owen didn't pick up any discarded guns and turn into an action hero. The closest he got to using any weapons was picking up that car battery and busting that guy's nose open.

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Saw this on Saturday one of the best films of the year. I left the cinema tingling and i can't tell you the last time that happened. The cinema was packed and straight from the off the cinema was silenced by THAT beginning. London looked stunning the action sequences were astonishing, the characters were great. I think this will be a word of mouth film.

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Saw it last night, was about 30 people in the auditorium :D

I absolutely lapped it up - the decaying future London was pretty terrifying really, and really makes you thank your lucky stars that you don't live somewhere that is already like that.

I loved the visuals, the lack of machismo and the supporting cast.

The whole scene with the army versus the uprising was one of the most amazing pieces of cinema I've ever seen

Maybe a bit bleak for some, my financée didn't love it, but a remarkable film.

first time in a long while that I've looked at my watch in a film and wished there was more time to go instead of wishing it finished.


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I saw this last night, and thought it was absolutely excellent. Full of clever touches, like the way that the "Avoiding Fertility Testing Is A Crime" posters were in the same font as the "We Are LondONErs" campaign, or the way that Michael Caine's character was listening to Roots Manuva in his car, like the old git he is. I also liked Clive Owen's faded, tatty 'London 2012' sweatshirt.

And, like everyone else, I was gobsmacked by those lengthy one-take action sequences. The first one in the car was particularly stunning. Almost too stunning in fact, because I spent most of the second half (and about ten minutes afterwards) thinking to myself "How the fuck are they doing this?", and thus wasn't paying much attention to the story.

The best bits for me were the ones that resonated particularly with the present day. That bit where they first enter Bexhill in the bus and go through the detention center, seeing all the terrified immigrants being lined up, humiliated, tortured and (presumably) killed was particularly striking (and depressing), purely because this sort of thing actually happens all over the world. I liked the way that the film's future history was evoked without resorting to an opening credits text-crawl ("It is the future. Men have been relegated to walled cities known as Quadragogs") or without reams of expository dialogue (except for that bit in the school). The audience get the message of what had happened to the world without it being spelled out by the characters; they referred to events (like what happened to New York) obliquely, in the same way people in real life do.

If I were to criticise, I'd agree with the other people who said the script's a bit weak in places; there aren't really any twists or surprises. Not that I wanted a pointless twist like "Clive Owen is the baby's father!!!!!" or "That massive inflatable pig caused the infertility!", although it would have been nice to have some explanation of why all the women (except one) are infertile and how that one woman isn't affected. It's not really the point of the film though, as the film sticks so closely to a group of characters who would never have discovered this.

Also, did the film ever actually explain what the Human Project actually was? I kind of got the vague idea, but it never seemed to be very well developed.

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I agree with all of that, K, especially the bit about the filming technique being so revolutionary to the point of being distracting.

It definitely needs rewatching to absorb all the surrounding detail, and to catch the dialogue (was it my cinema, or was it quite muffled?) At least in Half-Life 2 you can hang around and take it all in.

Although I really wanted to see more of the dystopia, I think there's a lot to be said for leaving things to the imagination. I'm thinking of the 'tears in rain' speech in Blade Runner or the shark story in Jaws. I'd like to have heard more about the rest of the world, not necessarily shown it.

More than any news footage or journalist's account, it made me imagine what it must be like to live somewhere like Iraq or Afghanistan. It had a massive impact in that respect.

I got the impression that no-one really knew what the Human Project was - people had blind faith in some kind of promised land where they might be able to escape to. Until the end I doubted it even existed.

It was a nice touch that the people who had some hope for the future were also the kind of people who believed in UFOs - further muddying the waters between the crackpots and the sane.

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I liked that they didn't explain much and it was left to us to fill in the little details or asides from characters.

I loved all the little details like Africa recovering from a nuclear fallout and the USA being destroyed.

And your right about stuff like the music Michael Caine listens to, he would have been fairly young in 2006.

The same with Pam Ferris's hair she too would have been young so it sort of makes sense why she has her hair like that.

I've must see this again so much to take in on a first sitting.

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I really enjoyed this film. Walked out and could hear a group of people saying how crap it was, I couldn't understand what more they could have expected from the film or exactly what they did expect.

What was with the burnt cows in the field? I must have missed why they were being destroyed.

There were quite a few moments where I was expecting something to happen. When Theo was in focus and they were talking about how he lost his child, I wasn't quite sure where I was supposed to be watching then, heh.

It was good, I've been finding a lot of films making it too obvious when something is going to happen. The bomb explosion was a prime example, he walks out and it almost goes silent. I was thinking to myself "boom"...That was about the only time in the film where I was sure something was going to happen though.

I was pretty shocked when Julian died. I was almost certian that most of them would die but didn't see that coming..There were a few moments in the film when I did wonder what the hell they were going to do. I actually wondered if this human project was some kind of trick setup by the government or something like that.

I found it interesting that they had lots of pets around, I guess highlighting that only people were affected?

I loved the stalk joke! :D

I think i'll go and see this again later this week.

ed: urm, am I doing something dumb with these spoilers tags? ed ed: Odd, comes up fine in IE..

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Something I forgot to mention in my first post; I thought the sound was excellent. I'm not sure what the sound designers did differently compared with every other film ever made, but the gunshots had a really visceral 'crack' to them, instead of the usual 'bang'. It made each and every shot that much more wince-inducing.

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I meant to mention the sound too, the surround was excellent, even the speech sounded clearer and more directional. And as you said the gunshots really 'sounded' out more, with each shot being heard and followed.

Actually due to the absolute clarity of the audio I noticed one guy fall during the single take sequence who didn't go down with an accompanied gunshot, minor detail really, and I only noticed due to the clarity of the rest of the film.

One other technical piece I couldn't work out was the camera setup in the car, it seemed to be central to everyone. Either it was a really small camera on a robot arm, or they did loads of takes with the camera man replacing one of the offscreen cast. Either way again it was an amazing piece of work.

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I hate it when that happens in cinemas, you really should be in your full right, the sad fact is that you'll never get that first time feeling again.

That's one thing I noticed when walking into the screen on Sunday, it said Dolby Digital EX Theatre or something like that, I knew I was in for a treat anyways.

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Went and saw it today with my dad, as is custom on a Wednesday. I can't explain how intense an experience it was. Like nothing I'd ever seen. Completely blown away. So much detail, I could probably talk for ages about everything that was amazing, but Cuaron has clearly cemented his reputation as being one of the best modern directors. Stunning in every respect.

Just to talk about the sound, our Cineworld is fully THX'd up and was completely amazing. I don't think I've ever heard sound as well implemented. As has been said the bullets properly cracked and everything was so perfectly fine-tuned - the baby screaming, for instance. Brilliant, it was.

It earns a 10/10 on the Nick-o-meter: a film where I would not change a thing.

Actually I feel I'm not doing my experience justice if I didn't comment on the things that really turned me on, as it were:

It's Cuaron's attention to detail that does it. The painting of Guernica subtly placed alongside Michaelangelo, the newspapers detailing atomic explosions in the booth where Owen is held initially, the posters, the periphery. It was all absolutely stunning and too much to take in. It was like holding your breath throughout the movie because you couldn't believe what you were experiencing. It was so visceral, so alarmingly real and not far enough away from our current situation as to be truly impacting. It shocked me to my core.

The parallels to World War II are unmistakable and yet beautifully implemented. I thought it was a stunning decision to make the first caged person who Owen hears to speak German, to plead with the guards. That meant so, so much to me that I can't describe it. Of course there were lots of other nationalities but it was the few German speakers who really turned the world upside down for me, to see a horribly mangled reproduction of the past perpetrated by the British. So intense.

And the action. My God. I just couldn't fucking see how they were doing those set pieces. I really couldn't. Everything was completely convincing, totally real. I kept comparing the film to Schindler's List in certain places for obvious reasons and I found it fascinating to compare in my mind how different their approaches to setting out the humanist struggle and the futility of life were, although both arrive at the same harrowing and completely convincing conclusion. It was a breath of fresh air to see no imitation, a completely new take on the dystopian future and ghettos in general. I thought the shooting of Jules was terrific in its composition. Not just the way it was shot and staged but how, at the moment of truth, instead of us thinking "duck" she just froze - isn't that what you'd do in reality? Just freeze? Rabbit in headlights? Or are you boldly sitting up, knowing it's your demise and determined to be proud to the end, to have your life extinguished in such a way as to enter into martyrdom on your own terms protecting what mattered to you? I'll come back to this later.

Another thing that struck me was how, of course, Cuaron did not linger in any one set piece too long. He exposed enough of a certain scene to ram the point home with shocking force and yet never overdid it. It didn't descend into sentimentality. Two examples:

- Near to the end when he carries the baby out it could have been such a longer scene. It seems to last forever and yet be over in seconds, and without that descent into the chaos that was previously upon them it wouldn't have worked so well. The exchange of three (well, two) lives for all inside that building... it was, again, staggeringly well done. An average director would have just played that scene out and created a false sense of sentimentality. I, for a brief few moments, forgot all the pain and suffering against the beautiful orchestral backdrop and, like the soldiers, concentrated only on that fragile little life. And, again, I was jerked back out of that surreality into what I had somehow come to accept as normal.

- I think every director would have just carried on with the terrifyingly atmospheric mood at the beginning of the movie relentlessly. However, two things struck me. Firstly was when Owen was being chauffered in the Bentley, driving down Horseguard's Parade. This was a pivotal point in the movie for me. You saw perhaps 30 seconds of the other side of the tracks, and yet it was so shockingly bright and gay as to have a greater effect than had Owen ever come into contact with that separate, esoteric world. It was closed off because the narrative followed the characters and not what was happening in the world. And yet there was just enough there to show you 'the gap' and it was so unexpected and masterful as to beggar belief. Secondly you had Michael Caine's refuge, the antithesis of the city, surrounded by nature: peaceful, safe, warm. You felt safe yourself without even knowing it, Cuaron using it as a breathing space for the audience. It was utter genius and when it was stripped away you felt cut off from all you knew from that point onwards. Tremendous.

Now I'll come back to something I touched on briefly: humanity. Because after all I think this is what Cuaron is famous for, his absolute portrayal of humanity at its best and worst. He lays bare everyone in the movie, everyone's defences are let down at some point or another. Not just the caged prisoners, the Muslim woman mourning the death of her son, but the soldiers who for that brief moment are reverted to a time of innocence, Luke who is so wrapped up in the fight that he realises he doesn't quite know what he's doing anymore, Pam Ferris' character who basically loses it like the fellow in front of her not by looking down but by looking up. Everyone is exposed as being as naked as the very child that is the crux of the movie and again it hit me so hard. That's what Cuaron's about for me and that's what made this and his other films so utterly special.

It was also worth staying to the end of the credits just to see a T.S. Eliot quote, two more themes running through the movie, peace and The Wasteland:

Shantih Shantih Shantih

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that's an excellent review, expresses a lot of thoughts i had watrching the film and can't really convey when i tell people about it. I loved the newspapers linking back to the present day, made it so much more convincing somehow.

of course i didn't even notice a lot of the details you picked up on. definitely a film to watch over and over and analyse i think.

can't quite understand the mixed reviews it seems to have got. ho hum

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Saw this last night and was as transfixed as everyone else.

At a couple of points during the film I looked round at the largely empty auditorium and looked at the audience.

Without exception they were in a slack jawed stupor staring at the screen as though posessed.

This film really grabs people.

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Saw this last night, scared the B'jesus out of me.

Convincing realisation of how London could look and feel in the year 2027... The streets are mixed with technological trickery and Half Life style sandbagged surroundings.

Hard to take in at first as this is a city we all know and love, a city that should be feeling the rewards and flourishing after the Olympics and not in decay.

I suppose the balance is about right as Britain is the only surviving nation, as Britains dark future unfolds you realise that without hope and cries of a baby, there is no future...

Anyone spot the game console... What is a Nintendo?

Creepy movie, with one of the best chase scenes ever!

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