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“Children of Men”

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By Matt Singer

IFC News

[Photo: “Children of Men,” Universal Pictures, 2006]

I am jealous of you, reader. You haven’t seen “Children of Men” yet, and you don’t have any idea what’s in store for you. “Children of Men” is a great movie and I plan to see it again, soon and often. But nothing will compare to my first viewing, when I didn’t quite know what to expect and didn’t realize the raw power of the movie I was about to watch. You still have the opportunity to have that rush of excitement that comes so rarely at the movies, when you truly and totally fall in love with a film, and for that I envy you. The way in which surprise and shock factor in on the impact of “Children of Men” makes my job here somewhat difficult: the more I reveal about the film, the less effective it will be. Even hinting at its ability to shake up a viewer diminishes its potential to do so. So I will step lightly.

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón and shot by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, “Children of Men” is at once one of the most technically complex and emotionally charged movies in recent memory. Rather than subverting character or story to the whims of his effects team or resigning himself to a talky, unimaginative intellectual exercise, Cuarón and his four co-screenwriters fashion a complete world, both of action and of thought. Their chillingly relevant future world contains the one crucial ingredient necessary to all effective dystopia: an air of inevitability which suggests that we’re already on the road to the damnation depicted but we don’t yet know it.

To that end Cuarón name-checks a potpourri of issues of the day, from flu pandemics to immigration rights to refugee camps to human rights violations in wartime prisons. The central sci-fi element of this dystopia, that at some point in the near future humankind will lose the ability to procreate, is really just the icing on the cake of what was already a pretty shitty world to begin with. As our reluctant hero, Clive Owen’s Theo Faron, notes, “It was already too late before the infertility thing.” The apathetic Theo — who’s taken up smoking to try to hurry up the dying process — gets roped into helping an immigrant woman by his ex-wife, played by Julianne Moore. Quickly all of their lives are threatened by a variety of forces.

Cuarón peppers “Children of Men” with violence, not to titillate or entertain, but to keep the audience in a constant state of dread. He and Lubezki further ratchet up the air of paranoia by filming much of the movie in long takes where seemingly innocuous events are interrupted by explosions or gunshots. Soon the audience is as paranoid as Owen’s Theo — I began wondering who, if anyone, could be trusted, from Moore’s activist to Michael Caine’s kindly old pothead scientist.

Lubezki’s long takes, particularly during the film’s two major set pieces, will astonish you, not only for their pure skill and audacity but for the way they enhance and enrich the drama. The climactic sequence, which follows Theo through a battlefield, is like an embedded dispatch from the frontlines of Iraq or some other war zone. Few science-fiction films have ever been as committed to inventing a true sense of earthy realism, though that is always the secret to getting an audience invested in a fantastic premise.

Saying any more endangers the film’s ability to blow your mind, so I’ll stop. Even though I want to compare “Children of Men” to specific films — including one by Alfred Hitchcock — I can’t, for fear of revealing too much. Go have that great first screening. Then we’ll talk. I’ll be happy to; I haven’t shut up about it since I saw it.

“Children of Men” opens in limited release December 25th (official site).


Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at


Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.


Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…