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Children of Men Poster
Your November UMC Results Are In!

Tagline: No children. No future. No hope.

Preshow Entertainment: Old clips from Simply Red, Todd Rundgren, Suzanne Vega




We opened the evening with a batch o' video from the '80s. Simply Red on American Bandstand featured singer extraordinaire Mick Hucknall giving Dick Clark the shit he deserved for being condescending. A new band at the time, they lip-sunk their two hits "Holding Back The Years" and "Money's Too Tight To Mention." We also watched the music video for "Money's..." Then came Suzanne Vega's "Marlena on the Wall" from SNL, and a 1989 performance of Todd Rundgren on Letterman doing "The Want of a Nail" with guest Bobby Womack. That's all we had time for, so we'll continue where we left off next time.


There is no doubt about it. CHILDREN OF MEN is a really well-made movie. It keeps one step ahead of you, so don't take any bathroom breaks because you may miss an important fact here or a tidbit there.

CHILDREN OF MEN, based on the novel by P.D. James, is a cautionary tale of Man's brief existence on Earth as it nears the end. This is the kind of sci-fi thriller I love. No silly made-up names or weapons here. It's just a story of mankind trying to save itself.

In the very near future, the world has gone to hell (except for Britain) and infertility has made us a childless society. Clive Owen plays Theo, an average coffee & cigarettes guy going about his day when he learns that Baby Diego, the youngest man on Earth (he's 18) has died. The world is in shock, but Theo is not. While everyone in the coffee shop is glazed over while watching the news, he orders a coffee. At work, everyone mourns Baby Diego, yet Theo is complacent.

But circumstances soon push him into the epicenter of the conflict, a conflict he didn't know existed. He becomes the protector of a woman named Kee who is... pregnant. So the man who was so uncaring when Baby Diego died is now saving Mankind.

Theo (Clive Owen) and Julian (Julianne Moore)
Recruiting him is his ex, Julian (Julianne Moore), the leader of an underground equal rights for immigrants organization called The Fishes. These immigrants have made it from their various now dead homelands to England where they are placed in refugee camps. Twenty years ago (or now, if you're reading this in 2007) Theo and Julian were quite the rebel-couple before Julian went underground and Theo became a clerk.

Michael Caine as Jasper
Also along the way, Theo meets up with his old hippie pal Jasper, played by Michael Caine. Jasper can rattle off philosophies of "chance and faith" while making pull my-finger fart jokes. And why do I get the feeling if Caine had not been an actor, he'd actually look like Jasper.

Other characters drift in and out of the story: The colorful cop Syd. The ex-medical professional Miriam. Marishka, the unstable gypsy-like woman. And a Fish called Luke, played by the super prolific and chuckle-inducing-named Chiwetel Ejiofor. Some help Theo and Kee. Some do not.

Theo and Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey) maneuver through the destruction
The whole movie is a non-stop chase as Theo and Kee maneuver through various roadblocks and situations in lively action sequences that rival the best out there. Their goal is to make it to The Human Project, which, as far as they know, may not even exist.

Below the surface of CHILDREN OF MEN lies the theme of "What are we doing to ourselves? What has the world become?". Peppered with references to Homeland Security and anti-government sentiment, there's no denying this is a thinly veiled metaphor of today's times. Look carefully and you'll even spot street signs that mention Iraq and demand you to report suspicious behavior. There's even a hooded immigrant prisoner in a cage in the humiliating Abu Ghraib pose.

Naturally, a story about starting a new world is bound to have religious references. Kee first tells Theo of her pregnancy in a stable, to which his jaw-dropping response of disbelief is- "Jesus Christ." And when exiting, Luke says to him, "It's a miracle, innit?" And later, Kee even jokes that she's a virgin. Also, there are characters with names like Simon and Luke. And let's not discount our hero's name, Theo, the prefix for "God."

Director Alfonso Cuar´n
Director Alfonso Cuarón sure knows how to make a movie (he also made HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN, the only good HP movie, in my opinion). He shares the suspense with matching imagery, something directors either forget or choose not to do. Here's my quick assessment of Cuarón: He's smart.

Many of the sequences in CHILDREN OF MEN are breathtaking. Special mention should go to three in particular. They are feats of wonder. Lengthy shots that have seemingly hundreds of events taking place simultaneously. Stunts and choreography that seem impossible to do in one take. Shots that make goodfellas walking into the Copa look like a student film (I exaggerate to clarify). Shots so complicated, you may not even realize it's the same shot. One clocks in at over four minutes and another nearly six and a half, though I suspect they pulled a "ROPE trick" about four minutes in when Theo moves through a dark corridor and emerges out of the shadows (I noticed the splatter on the lens was in different places).

Influence of Pink Floyd's ANIMALS album?
I'm not sure if Cuarón was listening to The Compleat Pink Floyd when he made CHILDREN OF MEN, as allusions seem abundant. From the Obvious (the artwork of Floyd's ANIMALS album comes to life), to the Maybes (the alarm bells from DARK SIDE OF THE MOON), to the Probably Nots (The rowboat from PULSE and soaring planes from THE FINAL CUT). I wouldn't go so far as to suggest that if you sync CHILDREN OF MEN up with the ANIMALS cd you'll get an experience that will change your life. Nope, it's just my imagination again. My guess is he simply used the Pink Floyd ANIMALS reference to reinforce his animal-heavy motif. There seems to be some sort of animal or animal sound on screen throughout the entire movie. Dogs, cats, greyhound races, sheep, cows, a gull, a deer, a zebra, roosters, a plastic duck, and even a statue of a dinosaur. And remember, the underground are called The Fishes.

But why all these animals? Is Man the only animal to let himself go extinct? Does Man imprison his own species while animals are free to roam the earth? Or is it simply...Noah?

I'm going to get silly now, so beware. Watching CHILDREN OF MEN made me flashback to a similar though more escapist movie, ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES. Innocent people in cages, treated like animals. Baby Diego vs. Baby Milo. On the run from the government to save the one child that will keep the race going.

Anyway, I sure hope I haven't oversold this movie. Though it may not be the greatest movie ever made, CHILDREN OF MEN is surely one of the smartest, well crafted films to come along in a very long time. I'd like to see what Cuarón does in the future. Oh, wait...

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