January 18, 2007


If Alfonso Cuaron's new film CHILDREN OF MEN is any indication of what kind of year 2007 will be in film, we are in for a fantastic voyage indeed.

Ok, so technically released in 2006 (to attempt to latch onto Oscar votes and years end "best of" lists) it has only recently seen a wider release in Ohio area theaters. Do yourself a humongous favor and make it a point to see what it truly a remarkable film on the big screen with a decent sound system, both of which will only enhance the film's many strong points.

A dark look at the near future (the year 2027) where the world's youngest living human has just died, and women have been mysteriously stricken infertile for the past 30 years. A strikingly different 'end of the world' scenario than has previously played out in works like Stephen King's novel THE STAND, Boris Sagal's cartoonish film THE OMEGA MAN, or any number of 'post apocalyptic' films like Jean-Pierre Jeunet's DELICATESSEN.

The setting is England where an obvious police state has been enacted and all foreigners have been (and are being) evacuated. England has thrown up the fences, border patrols, and military to keep the country intact and the world at bay. But bombs are going off, underground rebel groups supporting immigrants rights are attacking from within, and civilization seems to be hanging by a thread.

I say "seems to be" for a good reason. Cuaron has structured his film is such a way that we are literally with the protagonist, Theodore Faron played by Clive Owen, from the opening frames of the film to the end. There is very little that happens on screen that is not directly in Theodore's immediate realm of senses. We SEE the backgrounds of the crumbling England, the lines of refugees, the cages, the police, and the occasional bomb....but always in a passive manner. Theodore's been here, seen all this, and observes it with a kind of apathetic detachment. Images like a abandoned elementary school or a spay painted sign reading "Last One Alive In England Turn Out The Lights" may grip us with morbid fascination, but they pass by as quickly as they came.

The central story of CHILDREN OF MEN, which I won't go into too much detail about for fears of spoiling it's many surprises and plot twists, actually brings to mind Michael Cutiz's CASABLANCA. At it's core is the story is of Theodore, the uninterested businessman drone (with echoes of Terry Gilliam's BRAZIL here), drug into Bogart's world of passports, papers, visas, checkpoints, and espionage. It's what Cuaron does with that simple story that sets CHILDREN OF MEN apart from the rest of the cineplex crowd.

By making the decision to tell the entire story through Theodore's eyes Cuaron creates the entire world that his film is set in so utterly believable and immediate that it resonates like no other look at our 'future' we've seen before or since. We hear tidbits of television and radio chatter that give us bits and pieces to go on as far as what state the world is in. There are asides and pieces of conversations that we/Theodore hear about a possible 'flu pandemic' or 'nuclear strikes' in the world, but none that go as far as explaining exactly how mankind has arrived at this point in time.

It's this vague 'just out of reach' look at the world Cuaron has dropped us in that give the film such an amazing feel. From there we follow Theodore on trains, buses, buildings, farms, checkpoints, and hideouts on his given quest of what could be the key to mankind's future.
Sounds heavy, and it is, but Cuaron infuses the action sequences with an immediacy that was unlike anything I'd seen recently at the cinema. Prolonged "one take" camera setups literally thrust the viewer into Theodore's immediate place and time.

Supporting roles of note include yet another interesting character brought to life by Michael Caine. He's an aging 'buck the system' hippie that has dropped out to his house in the woods to watch the world go down while listening to music and partaking in what hippies partake in. Julianne Moore is solid as Theodore's ex who sets the mechanics of the plot in motion with her 'special request' of Theodore.

CHILDREN OF MEN builds to an ending that is more than a little heavy handedly promises the possibility of brighter tomorrows. But it's the trip there, and the frighteningly timely images and reminders along the way that warn us of the possibilities ahead.

January 16, 2007


Why is it that the icons of the Christian Religion are constantly popping up in food, water, trees, potatoes, and toast?

Do deities of the Muslim religion make a practice out of popping up on desert plants or Middle Eastern foodstuff to incite a passion in the faithful? Does Ganesh do this? I never hear of Jews getting excited about an apparition of some Old Testament figure in a kosher meal.

Since these Heroes of Christian Literature aren't' REALLY becoming bored in some mystical spirit world and making that snap decision to rally the troops by popping up in a urinal hockey puck or half-burnt piece of grilled cheese......you know, because that's ridiculous, then it all comes down to the Christians themselves.

What is it about Christians that makes them seek out these images in everyday life? Certainly not an amazing phenomena.....I remember picking out teddy bears and rabbits out of cloud formations as a kid. But then I grew up and realized they were just......clouds.

I'm not specifically picking on Christians........at least their current fascination isn't strapping on explosives and taking out shopping centers. I'm more amused than anything.

Crowds Pray To Frozen Virgin Mary In Store Freezer

POSTED: 11:52 am EST January 15, 2007
UPDATED: 12:15 pm EST January 15, 2007

An ice formation inside a Morton, Texas, grocery store's freezer is prompting tears from people who see it and has apparently answered the prayers of some visitors, according to a Local 6 News report.

Morton Thrifty Foods employee Alma Avalos said when she went to the back she noticed that some drops of water from the ceiling had frozen.As more and more people began to hear about the Virgin Mary, they started traveling in droves to see the ice.Some people cried when they spotted the ice and others said it answered their prayers."I had a lump in my breast and yesterday when I went home it disappeared," a woman said. "I don't have it no more."Others said they believe the ice formation is the real thing."There are some really Catholic people that really cherish her and they really know it's her and stuff like that and they are really amazed," visitor Stephanie Santos said.Workers at Morton Thrifty Foods said they will keep the Virgin Mary in the freezer.Watch Local 6 News for more on this story

January 08, 2007


"We Are Marshall" could have used an editor at the very least (and the most a more experienced and talented director wouldn't have hurt).

After a brisk and serviceable set up the movie then spins it's wheels for almost an hour and a half. Scenes of grief, heaped upon scenes of more grief with the occasional redundant scene of one character after another expressing doubt. And grief.

A story on the rebuilding of the football program would have been interesting in and of itself, but instead we are subjected to long drawn out "should we or shouldn't we" scenarios that seep to be on some kind of loop.

Eventually the movie get out of this downward spiral of reveling in despair in time to feature a couple of football games. Neither of which contain anything in the way of surprise or originality.

It's a shame such an interesting and human tale was stripped of all reality and emotion and saddled with every single known cliche' that exists in the sports film handbook.