Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Week (plus a few days) in Review: Part 2

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)

Based on an excellent short story I had to read for my English class, this is a classic example of England's "kitchen sink dramas", which focused on the working class and dealt with more mature themes than its predecessors. The stark black and white cinematography reveal the tale of a young man (Tom Courtenay) sent to a boy's reformatory for robbing a bakery. He is given a chance to make himself an honest citizen when the warden of the prison (Michael Redgrave) gets him to train as a long distance runner. During his solitary practice runs, he musses on his past. The performances are excellent, the script (by the writer of the original story, Alan Sillitoe) is first rate, and the story moves at a steady but quick pace, like the runner of the title.

Children of Men (2006)

I quite enjoyed the the premise of this film: what would happen if everyone in the world suddenly became infertile, so that eventually the youngest person on Earth is 18 years old? As it turns out, everything goes to Hell, and at the center of it all is England, now transformed into a police state. Clive Owen gets involved with protecting a young pregnant woman from harm, which is pretty difficult task, since the government and the rebels would use her to further their own ends if she is discovered. It got a bit too sentimental for my taste near the end, but thanks to a breathtakingly bleak art direction and impressive editing and cinematography (complete with carefully edited together shots that give the appearance of long takes), I found it quite enthralling.

South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (1999)

This is a South Park movie: it is loud, rude, offensive, and immature. It contains incredible amounts of violence, swearing, and crude humor. It has the Devil be the subservient lover of Saddam Husain. It has the US going to war against Canada.  It shows why people should never light their farts on fire. It mocks censorship and parents that worry too much about what their kids are exposed to. You have never seen anything like it. It is one of the funniest cartoons I have seen in a while. And the songs are catchy, too.

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