Movie Review: Children of Men (2006)

Children of Men (2006)___8/10
Tyranny and terror in a world of the “death of birth”

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Screenplay by Alfonso Cuarón
Based on the novel by P.D. James

Clive Owen …. Theo Faron
Julianne Moore …. Julian Taylor
Michael Caine …. Jasper Palmer
Chiwetel Ejiofor …. Luke
Charlie Hunnam …. Patric
Claire-Hope Ashitey …. Kee

Children of Men is an escape thriller set in a dystopian England 20 years into the future, where for reasons that are never made explicit women of the world stopped having children (ca. 2009).  While the continents crumble into chaos, England holds on through an extreme xenophobic (foreigner-bashing) police state.

Sounds depressing, right?  Well, sure.  But the plot is tight and interesting, and high hopes counter the dangerous bleakness.

Londoner Theo Faron (Owen), a former peace activist with a reasonably comfortable position in the government, has a run-in with his still-revolutionary (kind of a pro-immigrant movement known as Fish) ex-wife, Julian (Moore).  She wants him to use his connections to help smuggle an illegal immigrant Kee (Ashitey) out of the country.

Kee has miraculously conceived and is close to bearing her child.  The Fishes are loosely associated with a sea-faring group called The Human Project, which has arranged to accept Kee with the goal of restarting the species.  In addition to providing the transit papers, Theo winds up as Kee’s escort.

The everpresent state cameras and police are always on their tails, then an internal Fish power struggle threatens to upend the mission.  Their route to the sea is full of obstacles.  Theo and Kee, with a woman serving as Kee’s birth coach, make their way into the woods where Theo’s longtime friend, Jasper (Caine) sets them up for the final leg. Continue reading

Movie Review: The Confirmation (2016)

Humor and caring richly imbue this inspiring ultimate modern family movie 10/10
Review by Brian R. Wright

No fewer than four actors in this exceptional film deserve Oscar nominations, including, of course, Clive Owen (Walt), then the others: Jaeden Lieberher (playing Walt’s son Anthony), Patton Oswalt (Drake: the meth addict with a heart of gold who embarrassingly tries to help the father-son team), and Robert Forster (Otto: Walt’s friend and confidant thru Walt’s struggles with alcoholism). Then you can toss in Maria Bello (Walt’s ex, Bonnie who wants Anthony to find moral grounding in her Catholic faith—hence the title, referring to Anthony’s impending confirmation—and even Matthew Modine (Kyle: Bonnie’s kindhearted yet fluttery new husband) for Academy recognition as well.

As we’re doing nominations, let’s also not forget writer/director Bob Nelson, either. Nelson takes the father-son personal, mutual journey to new heights, and reminds us that simple humanity can be sublime, even divine. The movie is pure magic, everyone involved simply hits the artistic target dead, solid, perfect. Every viewing reveals a subtle new truth.


Of what? This is the central metaphor that leaps right off the screen. We know from the first scenes when Walt comes to pick up Anthony (via visitation arrangements of the divorce), that Bonnie is making a special move to have Anthony attend church and ‘get with the program’ so to speak, by the rite of confirmation (which is designed to initiate a child into spiritual adulthood in many Christian denominations).  Continue reading

Movie Reviews: Croupier (1998)

A black-and-white-feel film noir, like The Hustler (9/10)

Croupier“The world breaks everyone, and afterwards many are strong at the broken places.  But those that will not break, it kills—it kills the very good, and the very gentle, and the very brave, impartially.  If you are none of these, you can be sure it will kill you, too, but there will be no special hurry.”
— Jack Manfred (Clive Owen)

That’s my favorite of the quotes from this brooding yet determined character, young, slick Jack Manfred.  It comes toward the end of the movie. Here’s another:

“Gambling’s not about money… Gambling’s about not facing reality, ignoring the odds.”

Quite a fascinating character, right from the beginning, when we see him talking to a London publisher about a book idea.  The publisher is smarmy, the type who sucks up to the in crowd; his advice to Jack is in effect, “Just work your ass off for us every waking moment and eventually success will arrive.”  The vibes Jack gives off, however, are anything but those of an aspiring, hardworking writer… Jack carries a constant grin of confidence.  His appearance is hotshot retro, he dies his hair blond and wears a pork-pie straw hat. Continue reading

Movie Review: The International (2009)

Like a Bourne movie only with too much “reality”

The InternationalUmberto Calvini: [In explaining the “true” nature of banking in the world] The IBBC is a bank. Their objective isn’t to control the conflict, it’s to control the debt that the conflict produces. You see, the real value of a conflict, the true value, is in the debt that it creates. You control the debt, you control everything. You find this upsetting, yes? But this is the very essence of the banking industry, to make us all, whether we be nations or individuals, slaves to debt.

Written by Eric Singer
Directed by Tom Tykwer

Clive Owen … Louis Salinger
Naomi Watts … Eleanor Whitman
Armin Mueller-Stahl … Wilhelm Wexler
Ulrich Thomsen … Jonas Skarssen
Brian F. O’Byrne … The Consultant
Michel Voletti … Viktor Haas Continue reading