08 January 2007

The trouble with living in a great year for movies is that you start to sound like a lunatic, or like one of those pathetic shills in the movie ads. In September, I noted that The Illusionist was easily the best movie I'd seen all year. A month later, I raved that The Departed was the best movie since The Illusionist. Then came a little number called Pan's Labyrinth, which, according to this blog's resident critic, was "the year's most powerful movie, and the most remarkable work of its kind in a long time." And I haven't even mentioned Volver yet. (Or seen Babel, for that matter.)

I stand by all of these statements. So how can I possibly convince you that Children of Men is the best movie of the year, and the most cinematically exhilarating movie of the decade? Obviously, I can't. I've gone crazy. But the sliver of my brain that still cares about movies insists that Alfonso Cuaron has just raised the bar for every director in the world. A few friends have pointed out problems with the plot, which I'll grudgingly admit. But this movie isn't about its plot, or its politics, but about the most remarkable sequence of purely cinematic epiphanies—at least one per minute—that I've seen in ages. Like Orson Welles in Citizen Kane, Cuaron is so far in the zone that he transforms everything that he touches. He keeps showing you things that you've never seen before.

Some trivial examples are in order. This isn't an action movie, but it contains a couple of action scenes that kick the shit out of anything else I've seen this year. Its creation of the near future is sly and unobtrusive, but as persuasive as any movie since Blade Runner, and demands multiple viewings to fully appreciate. The soundtrack is smart enough to use "Life in a Glass House" by Radiohead and "In the Court of the Crimson King." Most impressively, Children of Men contributes a new champion in the extended tracking shot sweepstakes, hands down, and then tops itself in that category less than an hour later. And these are all things that a casual viewer might not even notice. The closer you look, the more you see. The fact that someone gave Cuaron $80 million to make this happen strikes me as insanely hopeful.

Best of all, I've finally found the right director to adapt my novel to the screen. At this point, there isn't even a runner-up. Mr. Cuaron, are you reading this?

No comments: