Monday, January 15, 2007

Double Dipping

So the boyfriend left me to my lonesome again this weekend - hello darling; enjoy Barcelona! - and I found myself with naught to do... so I ended up revisting a pair of films in the theater that I've seen before. I used to see films a second time in the theater more then I have as of late... for one, there are just too many movies to see these days and I always seem to be playing catch-up; for another, movies are too gosh darned expensive in this damn city, so I usually have to choose wisely what I fork over 11-12 bucks for; and #3, the boyfriend never wants to see a movie a second time in the theater, it's like against his moral code or something.

So with that third obstacle (a lovable obstacle!) outta the way, I was able to make myself sidestep the others with relative ease. I saw Little Children a second time on Saturday evening because a friend of mine hadn't seen it and I'd been contemplating giving the film a second chance anyway after being so thoroughly disappointed the first go-round, and I saw Children of Men a second time Sunday morning because you're able to get actual real matinee prices for movies before Noon at one of the theaters in Times Square, and also I loved it so very much the first time and wanted to make sure I hadn't overstated my initial adoration.

Little Children fared much better with a second viewing; there are still things that bother me about the film - the voice-over comes and goes too spottily, and that ending is far too pat - but the plot mechanics are less distracting when you know where the things going and I found myself swept up in all the wonderful performances with much more ease this time. I can, for one, backtrack on my statement that I don't think this is a performance worthy of Kate Winslet winning any awards for; she really is marvelous here. And while Sarah may never hold a place in my heart like Clementine, Kate so fully embodies this mess of a woman down to her very toenails I can say, even without any expectations that it will happen in the face of the Mirren steamroller, that she's totally worthy here of all the praise she can gather.

Also looking better with a second viewing was Noah Emmerich, whom I hated the first time around and was one of my main problems with the film. I still think his character's shift at the end is far too forgiving to be believed, but I did notice more of the way Emmerich instills this wounded character with an humanity - albeit a pathetic one - throughout.

Really standing out to me as excellent this time was Phyllis Somerville as the Ronnie's mother - the sad plea in her eyes for her son to be able to stand without her is heartbreaking throughout - and if there were an award for Best Cameo (where an actor's past filmography fills in all the blanks we need to understand their character) the winner would have to be the wonderful Jane Adams as Ronnie's blind date in the most excruciating, for me, scene of the film. I couldn't help but conjure up memories of Adams' loveless loser Joy in Todd Solandz' masterpiece Happiness while watching her here and imagine this character as Joy a few years later, a lot more fragile and defeated.

As for my second viewing of Children of Men, well, my love only deepened. I could honestly go and see this film a third, fourth, fifth time on the big screen. There are so many rich details to this world I picked up this time that I missed before that I'm sure there's even more to be found. Clive Owen's performance was even more commanding this time - the egoless way in which he never seems to be trying to Act - he never once pushes this character too hard, too in your face, but we see the entire transformation play out in front of us from a cynical, broken man to one with some degree of hope and love stirring him to do great things. It's a beautiful performance, one that anchors the film and leads us through this sad world intact in the end because he gets to smile in the film's final moments.

Also seeming even more impressive to me was Claire-Hope Ashitey as the pregnant Kee; the way she embodies this very-much-in-very-real-danger girl with so much life and spark and wit, she makes the scenes that in a lesser film would've annoyed me - where it underlines the Miracle nature of her pregnancy - real and lovely and seem like, yes, a miracle. Kee is slightly vulgar, easily annoyed, and not completely sure what the hell is going on or what she thinks of any of this, but when she tells Clive Owen's character Theo that she feels "alive" now, we can see exactly what she means, and what that means for this world. What a marvelous movie.


Reel Fanatic said...

Though I haven't managed to see Little Children even once yet, I did also see Children of Men twice in the theater, and I'm glad I did ... Alfonse Cuaron just packs the great story with so many unforgettable images that it's impossible to appreciate them all in one take

Anonymous said...

Clive Owen - Commanding?
You have to be joking. Mr Owen is the most boring actor ever to appear in mainstream movies.
And yes I can remember Kevin Costner.
There's laconic and then there's asleep. Mr Owen has phoned in each and every one of his performances since he was 'the chancer'. on Central Tv.
Never before has an actor got by on his looks alone more than CO. Yes there are bad actor's, mostly 'b' movie ones that have nothing going for them other than their appearance, but this bloke is taken seriously!.
I really did fall asleep during Closer, which made my wife furious...