Film of the week: Children of Men
ITV1, Sunday May 19, 10:15pm
Hollywood has had many half-decent stabs at depicting dystopian futures. Problem is, most of these attempts at showing us society on the brink of collapse have been so stylised they end up looking like the sort of worlds that only exist in big-budget blockbusters. Alfonso Cuarón’s masterstroke with Children of Men was to give it an air of documentary realism, employing hand-held cameras and lengthy single-shot sequences at locations in London and the South Coast to place us in the heart of the action.
It resulted in one of the most vividly convincing yet utterly nightmarish visions of human disorder since Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. There might be plenty of artistic licence in having global female infertility threatening to bring about the extinction of our species as a major plot point, but most of it is not much more than one step removed from the world we live in today. In Children of Men, Britain’s response to its societal breakdown is to round up immigrants and deport them, a policy you could easily imagine the Conservative Party toying with as it veers right in a bid to head Ukip support off at the pass.
It is little surprise that the film appeared in so many critics’ top ten lists in 2006; in fact it is easily one of best made since the turn of the century. Clive Owen is superb as a cynic drawn inexorably to resistance, as are Julianne Moore, Chiwetel Ejiofor and the rest of the cast. Michael Caine gives quite possibly the best performance of his career. A buzz of excitement is already building for Gravity, Cuarón’s first film since Children of Men. Seeing just how brilliant the latter is, it’s not hard to understand why.
Set the recorder for:
Film4, Thursday May 16, 9pm
Thematically, boxing movies generally fall into one of two camps: Rocky or Raging Bull. Given that Micky Ward, the boxer on whose career The Fighter is based, is far more Rocky Balboa than Jake La Motta (i.e. likeable) David O. Russell’s sports biopic sits firmly in the former. It’s far more complex, however, thanks to Christian Bale’s Oscar-winning performance as Ward’s crack-addicted brother, faltering as he seeks to join his sibling on the road to redemption.
The Simpsons Movie
E4, Sunday May 19, 8pm
The Simpsons is undeniably one of the best TV shows ever made. But by 2007 it had started descending the slippery slope from consistently wonderful to consistently inconsistent. This was largely due to many of the original writers having moved on to pastures new. Fortunately, many of them returned to help creator Matt Groening draft the screenplay for the The Simpsons Movie. And guess what – it is consistently wonderful too.
The Social Network
Film 4, Sunday May 19, 9pm
David Fincher’s ‘Facebook movie’, as it was dubbed whilst still in production, sounded more than a little silly at first. I mean, who could make a narrative film about the virtual place we go to convince everyone we’re all so happy and living such wonderful lives, without it ending up as a Tron for the iPhone generation? You can’t, of course, so instead Fincher got Aaron Sorkin to knock up a belter of a script based on its creator, Mark Zuckerberg. A definite Like.