Friday, May 25, 2007

Apocalypse in England

I saw three movies this past weekend. All of them, I realized, are set in England and about strange things going on there.

Here's what I saw:

28 Weeks Later - a British take on what happens when a military drug designed to make viscious soldiers gets loosed upon the population and everyone goes insane with rage and kills each other. Interestingly, the film doesn't focus on the gory savagery, but the psychological experience of a family that is torn apart by this catastrophe. It's a taut thriller with many cutting insights and metaphors about our times.

Hot Fuzz - Don't let the name fool you; this movie is not porn. It's a British comedy by the same team of guys who did the fantastic Shaun of the Dead (a spoof on the George Romero zombie classics, Dawn of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, and the recent and amazing Land of the Dead). Hot fuzz is a whacky, slap-stick oriented silly spoofy comedy about a small cozy town miles away from London that wins "best town of England" award every year. A snappy police officer who is the best in London, gets canned and sent to the small town because he's "so good he makes the entire police department in London look bad". What he discovers when he gets to his new post (the small town that wins best town of the year every year) is that while there are no "crimes" there is an alarming rate of fatal accidents. He discovers that these accidents are murders perpetrated by a group of gray hairs who want to keep winning the award. Prat falls and puns, zaniness and goofiness abound in this odd comedy.

Children of Men - Another movie about bad things happening on the British Isle. This one is ten notches above Hot Fuzz and 28 Weeks Later, due to many qualities of a superb movie: the poetic and poignant screenplay that has no frills or excess, the bold and precise direction that doesn't add sentimentality or skew the perspective, the unflinchingly personal and sweepingly majestic cinematography (a striking contrast), and the surprisingly intense and authentic characterization brought to the main character by the actor, Clive Owen.
Children of Men is a dystopic meditation on what would happen if women could no longer get pregnant and mankind faced extinction. It's an "end-of-the-world" sci-fi flick with dark and scarily realistic tone. The movie is rife with images and scenes that reflect events going on in the world today, and many times during the movie I did not feel I was watching science fiction - I felt like I was watching a documentary. One of the best moments of the movie for me was a long single take at the movie's climax (I won't give it away, but watch for the amazing uncut sequence).
I just found out that this movie has been rated in the top ten best sci-fi movies of all time, and I agree...

It's funny, because I did not plan to or even realize I was seeing three movies set in England about epidemics causing death and major change. One was a horror movie, one a comedy, and one a drama. Interesting!

1 comment:

Darren said...

I saw Children of Men several months back when it came out. The camera work in it was amazing to me. During some of the film I felt like I was watching scenes from Half-Life 2. I plan to add it to my dvd collection soon.