Monthly Archives: November 2014

John Lennon interviewed by a Boy

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Children of Men; Is it Worth it?

Children of Men is an intense tale of the inability of humans to reproduce. It is set in a dystopian future. Children of Men is a harrowing cinematic wonder, which enacts long takes with few cuts, and an immensely beautiful, yet terrifying setting, contrasting modern battle grounds, and industry, with deep green landscapes. It seems the most poignant shots offer the least amount of cuts, and vast range. This movie offers opposite pars and poignant meaning in social critique of violence and birth.

Children of Men highlights the human condition: we strive to reproduce and pass along our heritage. Being unable to do this, we become depressed and despondent. The human race is setup against a fascist government and a terrorizing guerilla activist group, F.I.S.H. With the setting we are drawn into a world of binary design; one aspect of the world is city-centric, very much modern dystopian, the other is one closer to nature, deep, rich, and holistic. This dichotomy offers a reprieve from what seems an endless barrage of violent attacks which plague the city centers. With this the audience is offered two ideologies: 1) a world based off of free love, attempts at birth, and peace (Shanti Shanti Shanti), and 2) a world based off of violence, oppression, and control. What is offered in drastic contrast is played out tenfold in this move; we see comparisons between life and death, humans and animals, and peace and war. Doubling extremes keeps this film at a fast pace.

In each shot there is much movement and sharp narrative change. Some of the most intense scenes go from a whimsical playful stance to a tragic situation, or vice-versa, in mere moments; the car chase, the baby exiting the building in the middle of an artillery battle. What we see is two very different concepts placed next to one another. We have the love of humanity, wanting to reproduce, create, expand, share, love, and then juxtaposed that, we have death, violence and deception. The question one must ask during Children of Men is not whether we have the ability to reproduce, but whether we should reproduce.

The director of Children of Men is extremely clever. He pits light-hearted empathy with the most atrocious violence. One moment the audience is laughing, the next moment they are gasping in shock. Children of Men is not your run of the mill movie, but something exceptional, and riveting, with a greater meaning. By comparing life and death, peace and war, the director shows two sides of human nature. The film draws you in with humanity, and begs the question: with all of this destruction of life, is creating new life worth it?

Boys Don’t Cry, and then People Die

Boys Don't Cry Poster

Boys Don’t Cry Poster

Boys Don’t Cry carries from start to finish with an emphasis on light, perspective, violence, and deception. One thing to note especially about Boys Don’t Cry is the beginning and ending are the same: the audience is given a car on a dark highway, traveling to anywhere, driven by a female character. The lights are out of focus and what is dark surrounds. This set-up and finish could be symbolism of the protagonist Teena “Brandon” Brandon. Hilary Swank, who pulls off a Justin Bieber/young Matt Damon in this film, is astonishingly believable as a soon-to-be F to M gendered person. She moves in the night, in the shadows, sans good light, and those around her can’t really pin-point her basis, or what she actually is. Her foundation is out of focus. Peirce captures this incredibly well, and that is what makes this movie so gripping, its honesty. The audience does not know what is coming next… That is honest. Life is not scripted, anything can happen. It could be physical violence, romantic sexual expression, or a drunken domestic outburst centered round the most sacred part of the house, a living room. The beauty of Boys Don’t Cry is the reality it mimics, the unknown- and not knowing.

Sexuality within the film focuses on “Brandon” trying to find love, find himself/herself, while moving around just trying to exist, survive. He deceives all those around him by not being straightforward about his situation; he is not a man. Brandon comes into a precarious situation by way of alcohol and drugs, and probably chance. The audience is taken in, first-hand, as Brandon is. He build relationships and is pitted against what would seem “normal” or “average” antagonists, against an ambivalent character. Brandon tries to be macho in respect to Lana’s ex-lover, felon, Brandon tries to win the heart of Lana. Role reversals within Boys Don’t Cry seem shocking; Brandon is raped (as a woman), Lana is intrigued that Brandon is actually female, and the drunken mother. I think the message within the film is that there is a duality to each situation. It is not so much about labels, blame, or deception (everyone is to blame within Boys Don’t Cry), but rather how it makes you feel, and for what purpose. That is the most important bit.

Lana and Brandon seemed in love, as opposed to Lana and her ex-lover, total drunk loser. There was a peace in the atmosphere when Lana was with Brandon that took her out of the “Hell” which was her living situation. And that all came to a violent end.

Kimberly Peirce’s directing utilizes fast cuts and manipulated lighting, not to mention the set, makeup, and overall appeal of the environment which is being imagined. It appears to me that most of the scenes take place at night or in the dark, or in sorted establishments. This filter affects one’s perception of reality, characters who appear in the dark, are not as they appear during the day. Fast cuts emphasize the fast pace of the movie, there exists this whirlwind love affair which is bound to become disastrous and volatile. Swank’s general presence gave me an uneasy feeling; I wonder, if one can be so convincingly conjured that no one is to know the difference, who around us is real? And what is “real”? Does it matter as much as the feeling that individual gives off? This not knowing of what is “real” creates the tension that eventually leads to the climactic ending.

The culmination of the film was shocking; people got shot, in the head. The interesting thing is the passing of the torch at the end. We have another character touched so much by Brandon’s ambition, concepts, and love that she embarks on what was to be his journey. The dangers of deception, manipulation, and drunken violence transcend intent (as good as it may have been), hence why Brandon was eventually killed. Boys Don’t Cry is a powerful film with a poignant and tragic message; people are still concerned with labels and other peoples’ sexual preferences, so much so that they will carry out violent acts in retaliation.

Drunk History: Frederick Douglass; Am Lit 1.