1 – The favourite film
Well The first item is an easy one for me; the first film that comes to mind whenever someone phatically asks “what’s your fave film then?” It has to be ‘Children of Men’ – the gritty dystopian book adaptation starring Clive Owen and Chiwetel Ejiofor is superbly crafted by Alfonso Cuaron. For me this film ticks every box…
Okay so its not a Hollywood Blockbuster, Its not art-house indie work, I suppose its somewhere in between the two extremes. Its a fusion of brilliant acting and ingenious film-making; in-case you didn’t know Alfonso Cuaron is one of the founders of a new cinematic generation back in Mexico, it’s cutting edge stuff! But more about that another time.
The film itself is shot in a gritty film stock making heavy use of grey-scale colours to reflect the decaying locations and atmosphere. We often follow the protagonists on foot in an immersive documentary style with very long (but well choreographed) shots. Shooting whole scenes in one take with a pacey and shaky feel is typical of Cuaron, and whilst it is very unconventional in the eyes of Hollywood the overall result is nothing short of breathtaking.
Shooting a film like this requires a lot of attention to detail, and a lot of preparation. In some cases they only have one or two shots at a scene, like the opening scene: A real street full of extras all doing different things as a roadside bomb destroys a coffee shop.
Now as well as being quite literally ‘blown away’ you will also notice that the film is harrowing in the sense that it is not too different from the way we are now. There’s a few more flat-screen televisions, but no flying cars and cyborgs running amok; Britain still looks British, but its a post ‘peak oil’ post recession Britain. I think that’s what makes this film so moving, we can see ourselves in this world of pollution, war and infertility because we could end up in a similar state one day.
So not only is this film incredibly seamless and brilliantly shot, it’s also shocking and affective. It’s ‘non-sugar-coated’ feel leaves us thinking about what we could become whilst delivering a cynical message about humanity. ‘Children of Men’ is nothing short of a masterpiece, and that’s why its in my cabinet.