But within the first two weeks of the new year, we managed to score TWO movies. I'm going to talk about both below, behind cuts because of possible spoilers - but let me just say, right now, that both are worth going to see even if you DO trip over spoilers because nothing I say can beat the visual experience of these movies.
I honestly don't know why this thing doesn't have more out about it. It's ASTONISHING. Also, and this is perhaps the reason why it's such a sleeper, it's frightening - perhaps too frightening for some to handle. It isn't a question of Bad Future, it's a question of No Future (well, maybe - but it hangs on one tiny miracle and the cost of it is high, so high...)
Scenario (based on a book by P D James, apparently): in 2027, no human children have been conceived or born for EIGHTEEN YEARS. The movie opens with the youngest person on the planet, known as Baby Diego, having been stabbed and killed - and the expressions on the faces of the people watching this on the news are appallingly tragic. The news announcer goes on to give Baby Diego's age at death in years, months, weeks, days, hours and minutes - which brings it home, graphically. HE WAS THE LAST CHILD BORN ON PLANET EARTH. They knew exactly when, down to the minute.
The world we are brutally thrust into is almost frigtheningly possible. The planet has gone to hell in a handbasket - quite aside from the human childlessness thing, the place is shot - nuclear war, disease, rampant migrations by people who have no other choice at all. The London of 2027 is a filthy place with garbage bags out on the streets which are filled with tuk-tuk type rickshaws and buses which have steel mesh on the windows. So do trains. For good reason - they are being pelted with rocks by the don't-haves by the wayside.
The political situation is complicated, and volatile. The refugees - known as 'fugees - are herded into camps, camps crawling with lost and hopeless people in rags gathered around tin drums in which forlorn fires have been lit, living in semi-abandoned buildings which are eighty percent rubble, sleeping (if they're lucky) on stained dingy ripped up mattrresses or on the ground wrapped (if they're lucky) in a threadbare blanket.
Enter a British armed-and-dangerous "Terrorist" group known as "Fish" - which may have more than one agenda. In the pursuit of one, a major character is slaughtered early in the movie in a bloody and violent car chase, only for us to learn that it was NOT the cops who were to blame but her own organization who needed to clear the way for a change of leadership - because there is much at stake - and what's at stake is simply this: the first human pregnancy in eighteen years.
In the body of a young black 'fugee girl, who makes an extremely unlikely and yet an utterly affecting modern Madonna.
This baby is what the movie swirls around - protecting the baby, coveting the baby, needing the baby for individual plans by everyone and their dog, this baby is more than a child, it's a symbol, it's a flag to rally people around whatever cause you want. And, while still in its mother's womb and then barely born, this infant is put through what a review has called "...[a powerful] set piece where Owen escapes a nightmare Gitmo into the exploding rubble of an incipient Fallujah" - a hell on earth where burned out cars and smoke filled streets filled with rubble and the occasional almost irrelevant weeping woman cradling a blood-stained body of someone she had once loved in her arms in the middle of an empty road. In an incandescent scene which, for me, is enough in itself to allow me to say, RIGHT NOW< that I fully intend to see this film again, the mother and the newborn infant are caught in a shoot-out between the army and the rebels hiding out in an almost completely demolished building which might once have been an apartment complex. In the shattering maelstrom of noise and blood and fire, the cry of the infant is heard by those closest to it, and then a pool of silence spreads as the mother, cradling the child, stumbles through the war around her, through people who stop what they are doing and reach out hopeless, hopeful arms towards this whimpering bundle, through hardened army sergeants whose "Cease fire!" roars are almost unnecessary as their men instinctively lower weapons to allow the child to pass, through ranks of men some of whom fall on their knees and cross themselves as the child is carried by... and then this bubble of peace closes behind the mother and child, and behind them the hell begins again as they walk away.
In order to ensure this baby's survival, a dozen have already died before our eyes - and that's just the characters who have a presence in the book. WHo knows what the true body count is.
No Hope. And yet she is found, this lost child who has borne a child, and taken away in a ship that bears the name "Tomorrow".
Searing stuff. Shattering movie. See it and weep.
And from an Armageddon of a future, into dark fairy tale.
Franco's Spain. A young girl and her pregnant mother arrive in this country house, where the pregnant woman's second husband - and the father of her unborn child - await them. The husband is a fascist pig of a soldier without an ounce of compassion or love - his interest in his wife is apparently confined to whether or not she can have his son (and he tells the doctor, if you have to choose, choose the baby). He is ruthless, perhaps irrationally ruthless, and utterly without redeeming feature.
Thrust into this horrifying world, the girl finds an ancient labyrinth... and, apparently, the chance fo salvation, because she may be the vessel in which the soul of an ancient lost princess has returned. A faun (and this is no tame faun, this is a wild and feral and frightening creature out of TRUE fairy tale) gives her three tasks to complete before the moon is full in order to prove that she is who she is supposed to be. The girl stumbles, and even fails - and there might be dire consequences if she fails completely, in BOTH worlds. Her actual reality, however, is much more of a nightmare than anything that's in her fantasy world - and believe me, they don't make the fantasy world Disney-pretty at all. This is one powerful piece of movie making, extremely affecting, visceral, reaching back to the frightened child in us all. It is subtitled, which I didn't expect, but that didn't detract any from it - in fact, it almost made it a level more enthralling, because these people spoke a language which I only barely understand. Be warned, they pull no punches here. The thing is GRAPHIC. They don't show you an actual torture session, but they show you the beginning of one... and then the pathetic thing that is left at the end of it, a thing that says, "I talked... I talked... not everything, but I said enough... please... kill me... kill me now..."
Bring Kleenex. You will need it. But see this movie. See it NOW. And if you don't get to see it in a cinema, then get the video when it comes out. This one's a keeper.
And remember I said I wanted the soundtrack, a while back? Well, now I REALLY do, more than ever. It has a powerful lullaby melody, a sad sweet tune which is still haunting me.