Posts Tagged ‘Children of Men’

Gravity, WALL-E and 2001: A history of Hollywood in space by Richard Crouse Metro Canada Oct. 2, 2013

walleIt’s one thing to feel cut off from other people. It’s another thing to be alone thousands of miles above the earth.

A new film from Children of Men director Alfonso Cuarón does a great job of showing the isolation felt by two cosmonauts who, in the words of David Bowie, are “sitting in a tin can, far above the world.”

Gravity stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts who get pelted by a debris storm, comprised of bits and pieces of old satellites. With their space shuttle disabled and their communications offline and they are forced to become Space MacGyvers in order to survive.

Bullock and Clooney aren’t the first movienauts to be cut adrift in space. From animated films like WALL-E to epics like 2001: A Space Odyssey Hollywood has mined the vastness of space in some unforgettable movies.

In the film Moon Sam Rockwell is astronaut Sam Bell, a Lunar Industries employee living and working on a space station on a three year contract.

His job is to tend to machines that are “harvesting solar energy from the dark side of the moon” and providing almost 70% of earth with power. His only companion is a robot / cup holder named Gerty (voiced by the appropriately named Kevin Spacey) although he can receive taped messages from his wife Tess (Dominique McElligott). The loneliness of the job is broken, however, when he discovers that he may not be truly alone.

The comparisons to 2001 are obvious, made even more apparent by Spacey’s HAL-like delivery of his robot lines, but director Duncan Jones has simply used Kubrick’s film as a visual reference on his way to creating a unique and fascinating film. Another thing he borrowed from Kubrick and many other sci-fi films of the 60s and 70s is his emphasis on ideas rather than special effects. Michael Bay this ain’t.

One of the earliest alone-in-space movies came in 1950. Destination Moon is noted as the first Hollywood movie to contain scientific representations of space travel. The story involves a two-man journey to the fifth largest moon in the Solar System and the difficult decision to leave one behind. Heralded at the time for its realism, through today’s eyes it looks somewhat corny. For example: “I know one thing,” says a spacesick General Thayer (Tom Powers), “unless these pills work, space travel isn’t going to be… popular.”


children-of-men-clive-owen-535Last year there was a lot of talk that Clive Owen would be the next James Bond. At the time I thought he would be a perfect choice for the role. In retrospect I’m glad he didn’t get the part because A) Daniel Craig is terrific and B) if he had been playing Bond he likely wouldn’t have had the chance to make Children of Men.

Based upon the novel of the same name by British author PD James, Children of Men is set in England in the not so distant future. A television ad trumpets that the world has collapsed and social terror is the norm but “only Britain soldiers on.” Women have lost the ability to have babies, terrorism and civil war wracks most of the planet, and the youngest person in the world has just been killed in a bar fight.

Clive Owen plays Theo, an alcoholic who spikes his morning coffee with scotch on the way to his bleak, low-level bureaucratic job. He reluctantly becomes involved with a radical group run by his former girlfriend who recruits him to courier the world’s only pregnant woman to safety.

With this film director Alfonso Cuarón (best known as the filmmaker behind the art house hit Y tu mamá también and the mega smash Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) proves that he is one of the best directors working today. The movie takes off like a rocket from its opening moments, shot in long takes that resemble a documentary. His sense of pacing, accentuated by many unexpected thrills is flawless.

Add to that a steely performance from Owen, terrific turns by Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Peter Mullan as a psycho detention camp guard and you have the best movie of the year.

Children of Men was the best Christmas present I got this year.

He’s got the acting chops, but Clive Owen may be almost famous forever In Focus by Richard Crouse METRO CANADA Published: March 27, 2012

children-of-men2Clive Owen should be breathing the same air as George Clooney and Will Smith; that crystal clean A-lister air that only the rarified few ever get to sample.

He ought to be a massive movie star, but despite smouldering good looks and some big hits like Children of Men and The Inside Man, he isn’t.

Last year the Globe and Mail noted that Owen “remains just below popular radar” despite “critical acclaim for his acting chops.” He’s a Golden Globe and BAFTA winner and an Oscar nominee, so the acting chops aren’t in doubt, but being a movie star and being a good actor are not mutually exclusive. If so, Sam Rockwell and Casey Affleck would be superstars.

So why isn’t Owen in the mega leagues?

Partly by choice. It’s said that he prefers a quiet life in the coastal town of Harwich, England, with his wife of almost two decades and children, to walking a red carpet.

Fair enough, but I think the eclecticism of his choices prevents audiences from getting a handle on him.

This weekend, for instance, he plays a protective father who battles a bogeyman named Hollowface to protect his daughter in the horror film Intruders.

It’s not the first time he’s played a family man but in very different kinds of films, with varying portrayals.

In Trust he was a sensitive father shattered by his daughter’s involvement with an online predator and in The Boys Are Back he had to learn how to be a father to two kids he barely knew after his on-screen wife died.

Then there is the long list of action movies on his resumé. He has punched, kicked and shot his way through violent films that relied on cartoon theatrics like Shoot ’Em Up and Sin City, espionage thrillers like Killer Elite and The International and even spy comedies like The Pink Panther.

Then there are the swashbuckling period pieces like King Arthur and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, where he’s all ruffles and chain mail, and Gosford Park, a murder mystery set in 1932, where he plays Robert Parks, the valet to a wealthy land owner.

The only constants connecting Owen’s movies are his charisma — “I don’t ‘do’ emotion,” he says. “Emotions are overrated. I’m more interested in creating a presence” — and his acting ability. Mega star or not, no one can deny the guy has presence no matter what the role.