“Cinema is a hostage of narrative. And I’m very good at narrative as a hostage of cinema.” A. Cuaron
More about some movies I’ve watched:
Stardust is one of those fantasy movies that don’t take themselves too seriously. Think of movies like Dragonheart or the Princess Bride but with a little less slapstick humor than the latter. For example you won’t find find R.O.U.S.s (‘Rodents of extraordinary size’) in Stardust. Though you sure could say there are some parallels, for example the evil Pirate King only being a role played by a nice guy to keep his image up: you got the Dread Pirate Roberts in the Princess Bride and you got Robert De Niro as Captain Shakespeare, a secretly well-mannered drag queen Pirate King. Stardust is the tale of a boy promising the girl he’s in love with to get her a star when they see a shooting star on the night sky. He sets out to to the magical kingdom that happens to exist right behind a wall next to the village the boy lives in. When he finds the star it isn’t some meteor stone thingy but has turned into a girl so – fairy tale logic, you know – he simply ties that girl up and decides to bring her to his beloved woman. Of course he’s not the only one seeking the star: A star helps witches to stay young when they cut out and eat her heart, and Michelle Pfeiffer plays a wonderful evil witch. There’s another party hunting the couple but I won’t tell any more.
It’s one of those rare movies that left me with a big happy satisfied smiling sigh. It’s not as outstanding a the Princess Bride but still the best witty adventure/fantasy/romance movie I’ve seen in years. And like I’ve already mentioned: There even is a unicorn. It even kind of explodes. Now if that’s no proof of quality…
Children Of Men – also a must-watch! – has no unicorns but is somehow heavy on mythology too. It’s a movie settled in a threatening near future world in which all humans have gone infertile and no children are born anymore. Until one fugee woman gets pregnant. ‘Perfect christmas movie, a saviour baby being born by a fugee..etc.’ is what I thought when I read the plot but my inner damned-christian-propaganda-rant ground to a halt when I heard the pregnant woman’s answer when someone asked her who the father of her baby was: “Whiffet! I’m a virgin. Nah! Be great, though, wouldn’t it? Fuck knows. I don’t know half the wankers’ names.” I think Cuaron, the director, has done a great job in turning a christian novel (Children Of men was written by christian crime writer PD James) into a story with enough open ends to question any philosophy. For example the Human Project in the movie – about which you don’t get facts, you have to believe in it – is a scientific man-handled project, no god-from-above-saviour-thing. Or another example: The Fishes (a quite clear telling name for a christian group) turn out to only want to use Kee’s child as a political tool while in the novel they were ‘the good guys’ out to save their saviour kid. In such nice twisted ways the movie script gets rid of the straight christian message the novel had. The heroes in this movie come from a leftist journalist background, you know: people who question everything and everyone, and we get hints at the generation of ’68 through the nice appearance of Michael Caine as eremite neo-hippie.
Genrewise the movie might be pinned down as a classic on-the-run story that keeps you pinned to your seats by cool use of un-cut single-shot sequences and quick twists and explicit violence. Terror, civil war violence and merciless immigrant-hostile politics hold the dystopian UK of this movie in its stranglehold. Think 28 Days Later with an ignorant and cruel population instead of zombies. The lack of hope that set in when no children were being born anymore is even plausible to a not-very-maternal person like me. Somehow it is the ultimate ‘No Future’ philosophy having come true. Part of the scare factor of the movie is that its desolate world is so close to ours, not only in years (it’s settled in 2027) but also in just putting grievances and injustices that already exist a bit over the top, one of the center motifs being the cruelty against illegal immigrants. We have no cages of refugees at railway stations for everyone to see. Yet.