©2008 Big Empire Industries and Randy Shandis Enterprises
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This week:
Children of Men

Filthy says:
"The end s like me: filthy and elegant!"

It's been so fucking cold here that I thought Christmas would never come. This is a time to be with loved ones. Not right now. Right now it's January and any rational human being is crying himself to sleep thinking about what a God damn waste he's made of his life. I mean December. December is a time for denial and, subsequently, joy.

This year, though, I damn near thought I was going to spend Christmas alone thanks to all the God damn snow and airport cancellations. Not exactly alone; Mrs. Filthy and the dog were here too. But the end of the year is the time when I become a crafts-project widow, finishing in second place to whatever projects my wife finds in the latest issue of Apartment Crafts Lifestyle magazine, like a fish-stick Santa, and making her own actual-size Christmas tree out of old newspapers, flour, water, pruning shears and twelve cans of Rustoleum. We still have the coat-rack she made out of chicken bones from last year, and besides the fact that she could have cleaned the carcasses a little better, it's quite a conversation piece.

Christmas came the night the Mrs. used the entire dozen cans of paint and we were trapped in a tiny apartment with the windows closed and the heated pumping the lead-based paint fumes around the living room. I got lightheaded, Mrs. Filthy got randy and the next thing I knew, I was running down Olde Wadsworth with my underwear in my hands (which had a mean and healthy streak of shit in them-the diet is right) and a police cruiser bathing me in the most glorious, brilliant Christmas light I've ever felt. I swear to God, with all the people watching me in the spotlight, I knew exactly how the Angel Gabriel felt the night he got all juiced up and told Mary God was going to knock her up. I'm not going to get into specifics except to say I am not pregnant and I saw Rudolph, a talking snowman and Mets manager Willie Randolph that magical night. A night that restored my faith in the holidays, not the least of why is because the city jail was overcrowded so they let me go home to sleep off my paint high.

Oh, yeah, nobody came over at all. As it runs out, though, it wasn't because the airport and roads were closed. My relatives and my wife's just hate spending time with me. I can live with that.

So, we are finally dug out after three successive snowstorms. People who drive cars have it easy. Even when it snows three feet they can pretty much tell where their car is. Hell, I know where my Falcon is, but you don't drive lightweight, rear-wheel drive, bias-ply-tired cars on ice, so I use my bike in winter. Even sober, I have a hard time remembering where I left. When it's under a yard of snow, it's damn near impossible. I spent four days this past week just sort of shuffling my feet in old familiar places hoping to stumble across it.

I did, finally, and was able to ride down to the Olde Town Cinema to watch Children of Men in an empty theater. What a God damn good of moviemaking. I know Willie, Rudolph and Snowie would have loved it, and if I can find them again I will tell them.

Children of Men has a fairly standard premise that feels like a lot of other dystopian sci-fi stories. It takes place in a war-torn near future full of bureacracy, xenophobia and awful filthiness. The filthiness and nearness of the movie's future looks like what Spielberg probably wanted for Minority Report, but director Alfonso CuarŪn does it way more effectively. You can taste dirt in the food and feel grime on the floor in nearly every scene.

Clive Owen is like a lot of movie heros before him: reluctant and disinterested, but drawn in against his will and slowly committed. He plays a numb bureaucrat in a world 20 years ahead where all countries have collapsed except England--presumably because of their manners--and all women have been rendered sterile by pollution, war, using too much hairspray, etc., for more than nineteen years. So, humanity is in its last throes and the haves and still trying to keep the have-nots away from their stuff. The government does what it does best and instills hysteria and blame in its people. Primarily they do it through trapping, caging and dehumanizing immigrants from other, destroyed countries, claiming they are the problem. Hmmm, that sounds familiar.

Owen was once a political activist, along with his ex-wife Julianne Moore. But after the death of their son some twenty years earlier, he has gone cold and buried himself in paperwork. Moore, on the other hand, has stayed active, and now works with a group ostensibly trying to protect the rights of the immigrants. That's how Owens gets dragged into helping transport a young, pregnant African (Claire-Hope Ashitey) out of the country and to a (maybe fictitious) group called The Human Project before the government can either exploit or bury her.

As I said, it sounds like a lot of sci-fi plots. What is truly amazing, however, is the subtext. In a typical Hollywood movie like Blood Diamonds, there is no subtext. The grassfucking director is so smug has to be explicit about every God damn point he wants to make. That means speeches and cardboard characters. Not in <Children of Men. I don't think anyone gets to say more than about three sentences at once, and it's never directly about what CuarŪn and about a half-dozen screenwriters are trying to say.

The movie's unspoken commentary is about many things, and largely done well. One is how compromised the goals of the fighting factions are. There are terrorists, immigrants-rights fighters and the government, all of which have lost their paths due to greed, corruption, ego or want of power. Another is CuarŪn, a Mexican, speaking on the shitty, inhuman way immigrants are treated in countries built largely on the backs of foreign labor. He reflects on what happens to activists as they age. Michael Caine plays the aging hippie who no longer agitates but recedes into the woods where he can pretend to be politically alive while actually hiding. Owens is the kind who gets worn down until he becomes part of the problem. Moore is the one who stays true to her ideals and--good news for people who can't stand her acting as much as I can't--gets killed early.

Another thing CuarŪn does really well in both the Harry Potter he directed and this is not fall in love with hi tech bullshit. He applies it like an expensive topical cream at the free clinic: only where it's absolutely necessary. And that keeps the focus not on razzle-dazzle, but on the story and subjects.

Four Fingers for Children of Men. It's a fine fucking movie. What a damn good way to start 2007. The rest is sure to be shitty and sad, but at least it started well.



My favorit, Pete Hammonmd

Alpha Dog (starring Justin Timberlake) is "Edgy and startling. The movie is on fire! A fiercely original shocker. A riveting look at a lost generation, an unpredictable real-life account of a group of teens in freefall. A great young cast delivers performances that can only be describes as explosive. Justin Timberlake is a complete revelation, creating a whole new career for himself as an actor."

Rocky Balboa is "The surprise of the season!"

Filthy's Reading
George Kalogerakis - Spy: The Funny Years

Listening to
Beck - The Information


The Ox-Bow Incident