Tuesday, January 25, 2011


One of the first painters who made a strong impression on me was the Spanish artist Salvador Dali. Instead of painting straight reality, he incorporated psychological dream imagery into his paintings, creating works that had a striking and bizarre quality. He worked in several mediums, including film, sculpture, and photography, and collaborated with many other major artists.

Dali was influenced early by Picasso and Miro, but also by classical artists like Vermeer and Velazquez. He used both traditional and modernist techniques in his work.

The Great Masturbator (1929) is centered around a distorted human face looking downward and based on a rock formation. A female face rises from the back of the head. The woman's mouth is near a thinly clad male crotch suggesting fellatio may take place. The male figure seen only from the waste down has fresh cuts that are bleeding. There is a locust, a swarm of ants, and an egg, all common elements in Dali's work. The painting represents Dali's conflicted attitude towards sex. As a youth Dali's father had exposed him to a book that showed explicit photos of people suffering from advanced untreated venereal diseases to educate him.
The images fascinated and horrified Dali, causing him to associate sex with putrification and decay.

The First Days of Spring (1929) is a painting that deals with Dali's troubled relationship with his father. In the distance is the shadowy figure of a man holding the hand of a small boy. On the left is a figure seated in a chair with his back turned to the entire scene.

In 1929, he collaborated with the surrealist film director Luis Bunuel on the short film Un Chien Andalou. The following year they produced L'Age d'Or. These films were revolutionary surrealist works. Dali officially joined the Surrealists group in the Montparnasse quarter of Paris. They hailed what Dali called the paranoiac-critical method of accessing the subconscious for greater creative activity.

In 1931, Dali painted what is probably his most famous work, The Persistence of Memory, which introduced the surreal image of melting watches. The painting rejects the notion that time is rigid or deterministic and alludes to Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

Dali was highly imaginative and had an affinity for partaking in unusual and grandiose behavior. Dali and his wife Gala attended a ball in New York where they dressed up as the Lindbergh baby and his kidnapper. The uproar in the press was so great that Dali apologized, but the Surrealists in Paris were not happy about him apologizing for a surrealist act.

Most of the surrealists were associated with leftist politics, but Dali maintained an ambiguous position on the subject of the relationship between politics and art. This led to trouble with his colleagues and for various reasons he was expelled from the Surrealist group in 1934.

Dali produced many works in the 1930s including The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft Which Can Be Used As a Table in 1934.

In 1936, Dali took part in the London International Surrealists Exhibition and lectured while wearing a deep-sea diving suit and helmet. He arrived carrying a billiard cue and leading a couple of Russian Wolfhounds.

Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) (1936) shows the struggle of war that can sometimes be both self-fullfilling and self-mutilating at the same time. Metamorphosis of Narcissus (1937) which depicts Narcissus falling in love with his own reflection in a pool. Swans Reflecting Elephants (1937) focuses on double-images that cause the reflections of swans on a pond to look like elephants, and incorporates a self-portrait of Dali. The Burning Giraffe (1937) deals with Freud's idea that the human body or mind is filled with hidden drawers that can only be opened through psychoanalysis. The image is set in twilight with a deep blue sky. There are two female figures, one with protruding drawers and both with protruding phallic forms held up by crutches. In the distance is the burning giraffe, an image Dali used in the film L'Age d"Or in 1930. He believed it to be a premonition of war. He produced Mae West Lips Sofa in 1937 and Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach in 1938. In 1939 Dali produced Shirley Temple, The Youngest, Most Sacred Monster of the Cinema in Her Time was a satire of the sexualization of child stars by Hollywood.

The Face of War (1940) was painted at the end of the Spanish Civil War and the beginning of World War II. Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening (1944) was intended to express Freud's discovery of a lengthy narrative in a dream where an instantaneous chance event causes the sleeper to wake up.

Dali also worked with Alfred Hitchcock on Spellbound (1945) creating the dream sequence that takes place within the narrative. It delves into the themes of psychoanalysis and dealt with the idea that a repressed experience can trigger a neurosis.

Basket of Bread (1945) was a gift Dali painted for his wife Gala is simple and beautiful.

Christ of Saint John of the Cross (1951) is a depiction of the crucifixion without blood, nails, and a crown of thorns at an extreme angle that Dali claimed came to him in a dream. Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory (1954) has the landscape of the original flooded with water and showing the disintegration of the world. It was symbolic of the new physics where quantum mechanics is symbolized by digitizing the old image. Crucifixion (1954) depicts the crucified Jesus upon the net of a hypercube. Young Virgin Auto-Sodomized by the Horns of Her Own Chastity (1954) depicts her buttocks consisting of four converging horns that are threatening to sodomize her. Living Still Life (1956) illustrates the decomposition of a fruit dish. In 1958, Dali produced The Rose. 

The Hallucinogenic Toreador (1970) transmits Dali's passion for bullfighting.The Swallow's Tail (1983) was Dali's last painting and was the final part of a series based on Rene Thom's catastrophe theory.

Salvador Dali created some of the most fascinating works of art of the 20th Century depicting not only the world in which we live, but the dreams, desires, fears, and anxiety of our inner landscape.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


In 1980, I lived by myself in a room in Boston and would listen to the radio in the morning. One of the bands the radio station played was Joy Division. They played the songs Transmission and Love Will Tear Us Apart, which created a dark atmospheric sound that had a strong emotional impact. One morning I turned on the radio and they were playing Joy Division songs and announced that Ian Curtis had committed suicide.

I bought their album Unknown Pleasures and listened to it endlessly. In July 1980 Closer was released and it seemed like a funeral march in the wake of Curtis' suicide. In 1988 Substance was released that contained the singles, b-sides, and some alternative versions of songs. These three records are some of my favorite rock albums of all time.

Joy Division came together in 1976 in Manchester, England. The band was originally called Warsaw and consisted of Ian Curtis on vocals and guitar, Bernard Sumner on guitar and keyboards, Peter Hook on bass and backing vocals, and Stephen Morris on drums and percussion. Their name came from the prostitution wing of a Nazi concentration camp mentioned in the 1955 novel The House of Dolls. They evolved from the punk inflected hard rock of the Sex Pistols to a sound that pioneered the post-punk movement of the late 70s that emphasized mood and expression and pointed the way to a more melancholy alternative music. Their originality came from slowing the songs down giving it a more sparse quality. Hook's bass carried the melody, Sumner's guitar left space instead of filling up the sound with density, and Morris' drums seemed to circle the rim of a crater. Ian Curtis' vocals were full and deep and isolated in the middle of the music. This created a sound that still contained the darkness of punk, but also created a spacious haunting atmosphere where each instrument was distinct. 

Joy Division had been signed by Tony Wilson's Factory Records in 1978 and Martin Hannett was the producer and played a huge role in creating the Joy Division sound. The band members actually didn't like the production at first because they felt it didn't reflect their more aggressive live sound, but eventually saw that Hannett's approach was right for their music.

Curtis was the main force behind the lyrics and content of Joy Division. While the songs and sounds point towards the goth movement, they are not fantasies but come from the drab realism and industrial grime of Manchester and are about a working-class young man trying to make sense out of the world in which he lives. Musically he was influenced by Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Jim Morrison, and the punk movement. He was also interested in literature and even some songs were titled after books - Interzone (William Burroughs), Atrocity Exhibition (JG Ballard), Dead Souls (Gogol), and Colony (Franz Kafka). 

Unknown Pleasures was released in 1979. The album is dark, angry, and aggressive at times, with slower dirges at others, but with a hypnotic rhythm throughout. All ten songs are stone cold and the album is a monument to passion and cathartic despair. Songs fade in and out from electronic noises and sound effects of motion and activity. There is a sense of doom and the feeling of a coming disaster. It starts of with Disorder and Day of The Lords which both point towards a looming apocalypse. Candidate and Insight are more contemplative but still gloomy and experimental. New Dawn Fades starts off with Hook's deep warm bass and is an emotional powerhouse foreshadowing Curtis' suicide. Curtis sings throughout with fear, desire, and a need to connect, yet lost in a storm of loneliness. She's Lost Control was inspired by Curtis witnessing a young woman have an epileptic seizure of which he was also afflicted and with Sumner's repetitive guitar is a trance-like death dance. Hook' s bass again leads us into the romance in hell of Shadowplay with the beautiful guitar architecture of Sumner and the driving force of Morris' drumming. Wilderness is faster and describes a lost man travelling far and wide who sees the despair of the world. Interzone turns it up another notch with two vocals overlapping describing a figure searching in an urban landscape. The album fades out with the slower, dark, intense, and atmospheric I Remember Nothing. 

The cover of Unknown Pleasures was designed by Peter Saville and it consists of a transcription of a signal showing a star going nova, on a black embossed sleeve.

Even though Joy Division was starting to gain success, Curtis was spiraling downward. He was suffering from epilepsy, a failing marriage and bouts of depression. On stage he would sometimes dance in an epileptic fashion and even passed out on stage at times. After watching Werner Herzog's Stroszek on television he committed suicide by hanging himself on May 18, 1980.

Closer had already been recorded and Joy Division was about to embark on a US tour that had to be cancelled because of Curtis' death. The album came out in July 1980. It's hard to believe an album could be darker than Unknown Pleasures but Closer was like a resignation to life depicting a disintegrating world. Musically it was more diverse and sprawling with keyboards and sound effects taking a more prominent role than on Unknown Pleasures. The songs sound more chopped up and fragmented and Sumner added teeth-grinding guitar riffs. It starts off with Atrocity Exhibition, followed by Isolation, Passover, Colony, and Means To An End. Closer turns even darker with introductory bass of Hooks leading into the marching drums of Morris and the guitar shards of Sumner on Heart and Soul. Curtis seems to be retreating deeper into the mix. Twenty Four Hours is a final demonstration of tension/release or soft/loud appoach with Curtis in his final resignation as he is starting to slip away. A buzzing synth with a slow bass march and piano open The Eternal. You can see the funeral procession moving through the streets to the cemetery in the voice and lyrics of Curtis. The album ends with Decades with a funeral-like organ and bone-like drums and evokes an after-life quality. The last four songs on Closer are some of the most emotionally powerful songs in rock music.

Substance was a compilation released in 1988 and fills in the gap of Joy Division's recorded work. It contains early singles that came out before Unknown Pleasures and several of their major songs including Transmission, Dead Souls, Atmosphere, and the ironic Love Will Tear Us Apart that has the most upbeat sound of any Joy Division tune ever. There is also a great alternative version of She's Lost Control.

The film Control was released in 2007 about Curtis and Joy Division and is directed by Anton Corbijn in black and white.

After Curtis' death, the remaining members of Joy Division went on to form New Order and morphed into a totally different sound that embraced electronic textures and disco rhythms of the underground club culture. Personally, I could never get into New Order except for their first album Movement which had its origins with Joy Division and still carried a dark edge. In fact a couple of songs on the expanded cd - Ceremony and In A Lonely Place were recorded in some fashion by Joy Division. In A Lonely Place could have been a postscript to Closer as it has a similar deep dark quality. It seems as if Ian Curtis is still alone singing from the grave.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


JG Ballard was a literary surrealist whose dreamlike narratives explored the darker areas of outer and inner space with a literary beauty and a psychological intensity. Last year Norton released The Complete Short Stories of JG Ballard which included 98 stories written over 40 years from 1956-1996. The stories are in chronological order and display the evolution of his literary output. 

Ballard was part of the British New Wave Science Fiction Movement and wrote 18 novels as well. His early works created a world of a post-apocalyptic dystopian society with his novels The Drowned World, The Drought, and The Crystal World. These works depicted radical environmental and technological changes and how they devastated both the physical world and the human psyche as well.

Many of the earlier stories deal with these ideas as well such as The Concentration City and Billenium which are about the problems of over-crowding and lack of space. In The Concentration City the urban world literally seems to go on forever and in Billenium people have been forced to live in small cellular cubicles to deal with over population.

A theme that takes place throughout all of Ballard's work is a depiction of an isolated individual, usually a scientist, who is obsessively investigating a strange occurrence and leads towards the individual losing his grasp with reality. 

Manhole 69 is about an experiment to eliminate sleep, but it goes horribly wrong and ends with the subjects suffering from catatonic seizures. The mind cannot endure continual consciousness and reacts by shutting down. The subjects could no longer contain the idea of their own identity.

The Voices of Time is about a researcher who studies Sleepers - people who lapse into a coma after going through a period of shorter and shorter wakefulness. The story is quite complex and includes references to the Nuremberg Trials, Albert Einstein and philosophy about the meaning of the Universe.

In The Terminal Beach a man who is having trouble coming to terms with the early death of his wife and son goes to live on an island that was once used for testing nuclear weapons. He goes through a mental and physical decline while having hallucinations of his wife and son within the decaying structures of the island.

Ballard was also influenced by the pictorial surrealism of Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Paul Delvaux, and Yves Tanguy. Ernst's silent forests and swamplands, weathered scenery, and gnarled post-apocalyptic detritus parallel the landscapes of Ballard's early disaster fiction. An earlier copy of the short story collection The Terminal Beach is adorned by Dali's Nuclear Cross. Ballard makes references to the surrealists in his writings and was interested in psychological landscapes. He identified with how the surrealists projected the mind's iconography.

Perhaps my favorite early story is The Drowned Giant. A giant human body washes ashore and after an initial shocking wonderment people start to climb over the body and vandalize and remove parts until it is completely dismembered. After all traces of its existence has been removed people start to wonder if the giant ever existed at all.

Ballard also was a collector of the "invisible literature" of technical manuals, company reports, and medical journals and owned a book of black box flight recordings. This influence started to inform his writings as well and in 1970 he produced The Atrocity Exhibition which was an experimental collection of condensed novel fragments or deconstructed short stories. The stories/chapters describe how the mass media invades and splinters the private mind of the individual, surrendering to a world of psychosis. Public events have personal meaning and the inner and outer landscapes merge together causing life and the world to become a vast geometric equation. 

The Atrocity Exhibition was a major new direction in Ballard's work and was influenced by the cut-up novels of William Burroughs especially Naked Lunch. There is no beginning or ending to the book and does not adhere to any conventional novelistic standards. The protagonist changes his name with each story/chapter (Travis, Traven, Talbot) and his role and visions of the world around him seem to be in constant flux. The central character is suffering from a mental breakdown and is ironically a doctor at a mental institution. He tries to make sense of the many public events that dominate his world including Marilyn Monroe's suicide, the Space Race and especially the assassination of JFK, by restaging them in his mind giving them a more personal meaning. There is a blurring between what is real and what is imagined. His ultimate goal is to start World War III, but the war will be fought entirely within his own mind.

Many of the pieces in The Atrocity Exhibition were initially released independently and they include titles like Notes Towards a Mental Breakdown, Plan for the Assassination of Jacqueline Kennedy, The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as a Downhill Motor Race, and Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan. With titles like these the book met with much controversy especially when it was released in the US in 1972.

Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan was written in the style of scientific paper and catalogues a series of strange experiments to measure the psychosexual appeal of Ronald Reagan, who at the time was the Governor of California and candidate for the 1968 Republican presidential nomination.

Ballard was inspired by the new phenomenon of media politicians and felt Reagan used the teleprompter-perfect tones of the TV auto-salesman to project a political message that was far from bland and reassuring. A complete discontinuity existed between Reagan's manner and body language and his simplistic far-right message. He felt Reagan was the first politician to exploit the fact that the TV audience wouldn't be listening too closely to what he was saying but would be more impressed by the presentation.

At the 1980 Republican Convention in Detroit a copy of Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan, furnished with the seal of the Republican Party was distributed by a revolutionary group to RNC delegates. According to Ballard, it was accepted for what it resembled: a psychological position paper on the candidate's subliminal appeal, commissioned by a think-tank.

Ballard published the novel Crash in 1973. The book was shocking and controversial as it is about symphorophilia in which sexual arousal hinges on the staging and watching of a disaster such as a fire or in this case auto accidents. The characters in Crash have a sexual obsession with car crashes.

The narrator is James Ballard, but it centers on the sinister figure of Vaughan a former TV scientist, turned nightmare angel of the expressways. Ballard meets Vaughan after being involved in an auto crash near the London Airport. Vaughan leads a group of alienated former crash victims, who follow his pursuit to re-enact  the crashes of celebrities, and to experience a new sexuality born from a perverse technology. Vaughan's ultimate fantasy is to die in a head-on collision with the movie star Elizabeth Taylor.

Crash explores such themes as the transformation of human psychology by modern technology, and consumer culture's fascination with celebrities and technological commodities. The characters in Crash are cold and passionless and cannot be sexually aroused unless some form of technology is involved. Car crashes are not shocking but seen as a form of liberation to explore new sexual possibilities.

Crash asks why do we as an enlightened society accept a perverse technology that kills vast numbers of people a year as such an integral part of our culture.

David Cronenberg made an interesting film adaptation of Crash in 1996.

Ballard followed this with Concrete Island (1974) which is a twisted adaptation of Robinson Crusoe. After a car crash Robert Maitland, a wealthy architect, finds himself  stranded in a manmade island, a fenced off wasteland in the middle of crossing motorways. He is forced to survive on what is only in his crashed Jaguar and what he is able to find. As his condition degrades, his sanity is threatened. He finds companions on the island and contemplates staying there and forsaking his former life.

In 1975, Ballard published High Rise which takes place in an ultra-modern luxury high-rise building. It has all the conveniences of modern life such as swimming pools, its own school, supermarkets, and high speed elevators. At the same time the building seems designed to isolate the occupants from the larger world outside. As time goes on the society in the high rise disintegrates into divisions, chaos, and violence, and the tenants shut out the outside world, abandon their responsibilities, and stay indoors permanently losing their sense of time. As he did in Crash and Concrete Island, Ballard offers a vision of how modern life and technology could warp the human psyche into unexplored ways.

The novel The Unlimited Dream Company (1979) concerns the story of a man named Blake who crashes a stolen aircraft in the River Thames outside the London suburb of Shepperton. He becomes a supernatural messiah for the small community, but whether this is real or he is imagining it as he is dying is not totally clear. He has extraordinary powers as he can fly and heal sick people, but he cannot leave the suburbs. He is obsessed with the small Cessna aircraft that he crashed in and remains submerged in the Thames. He goes through a transformation and becomes more human as time goes on. The book draws from the works of William Blake.

With Hello America (1981), Ballard produced a more conventional science fiction novel about an expedition to a North America that has been rendered uninhabitable by an ecological disaster. The book is a parody of American Culture with references to Jerry Brown, Charles Manson, and self-impovement. In the end it is implied that Europe needs America as a place where the darker elements of the Western mindset can be allowed to play themselves out without inconveniencing decent people.

Ballard took another major change of direction with the publication of his auto-biographical novel Empire of The Sun in 1984. While it is a work of fiction it draws on Ballard's experiences of being interned in a Japanese prison camp during World War II. The story follows a wealthy young British boy who lives with his parents in Shanghai. After Pearl Harbor the Japanese move in and Jim is separated from his parents. He spends time surviving in abandoned mansions and living on packaged food, but is eventually found by the Japanese and interned in the Lunghua Civilian Assembly Center. Towards the end of the war, with the Japanese army collapsing and food running short he witnesses death and atrocities and barely survives. Eventually, he is reunited with his parents, but he is now changed and affected by his experience. Steven Spielberg made the book into a film in 1987.

In 1991, Ballard released another autobiographical novel called The Kindness of Women. Each section deals with a woman or women from certain periods of his life. It starts off in Shanghai and covers some of the same terrain as Empire of The Sun. In one scene he witnesses a murder of a Chinese clerk by a Japanese soldier at a railway station in which he is powerless to do anything. When the book moves into the later sections it becomes fascinating and revealing as to how Ballard's life experiences affected his literature. At one point in his life he studied medicine and the woman he is obsessed with is the cadaver he is dissecting. After leaving medical school he goes to a Nato training school for pilots in Canada and has drunken encounters with prostitutes and is obsessed with the death of one of the other pilots. Ballard and his friend feel they will eventually participate in World War III. In another section he tells of shocking early death of his wife and having to raise his three children by himself. The Kindness of Women is about sex and death. There are many sexual encounters described with a clinical precision. There are references throughout the book to the events of the day, including the Vietnam War and the Kennedy Assassination. He writes about the experimentation with drugs in the 60s and the intrusion of the camera lens into our lives. There is even a section that reveals how Ballard became obsessed with auto accidents.

In his later short stories, Ballard combines his life-long obsessions with the various literary techniques he explored throughout his writing career. The Air Disaster is about a journalist who is trying to find an airplane that crashed in a mountainous region, but through his search you start to wonder if it actually happened. The Dead Time is an autobiographical story suggested by Ballard's release from a Japanese prison camp at the end of World War II and was a precursor to Empire of The Sun. Having A Wonderful Time is written in the form of postcards and chronicles the story of a young couple who vacation in the Canary Islands, but their flight home is continually cancelled until it becomes clear that they - along with other families - will never be allowed to return home, and have been forever exiled. The Secret History of World War III depicts a world where the public is so obsessed with the health of Ronald Reagan that they miss World War III which begins and ends in three minutes. Message From Mars concerns a group of astronauts who return to earth but refuse to leave their spaceship for some mysterious reason.

Ballard continued to produce novels until his death in 2009, and started to add elements of mystery into his works.

The Day of Creation (1987) is about a doctor in Central Africa who finds a way to bring water to the desolate region and then sees himself as some kind of messiah as his mind spirals into fantasies. Running Wild (1988) concerns a wealthy gated community where all of the adults are murdered by their now missing children. Rushing To Paradise (1994) is about a eccentric group of environmentalists led by a messianic doctor who wants to save an island from nuclear tests by the French government. Cocaine Nights (1996) follows a man who goes to Estrella de Mar in order to rescue his jailed brother. He becomes immersed in a dark world and is constantly being manipulated as he thinks he is finding the truth. Super-Cannes (2000) deals with a mass murder at a wealthy closed community. Millenium People (2003) is about a man who investigates the bombing death of his wife at Heathrow Airport. Kingdom Come (2006) deals with the blurry line between consumerism and fascism.

JG Ballard produced a great and unique body of work that reflected the fractured and demented status of our world. His writings reveal the paradox of how the extraordinary creative power of man's imagination is matched only by his reckless instinct for destruction.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Children of Men is one of the most interesting and powerful films that has come out in the new century. Based on the novel by PD James and directed by Alfonso Cuaron, the film is set in 2027, and depicts a world that is in total chaos. War, terrorism, and pollution have rendered most of the world uninhabitable. New York has been nuked. England is the one place where society soldiers on, but it is a police state, where illegal immigrants are caged and put into refugee camps where they are held until deportation or death. The television advertises a suicide drug that you are encouraged to take when you feel the time is right, because of the state of the world, and the fact that England is now overpopulated.

In the first scene we see Theo Faron (Clive Owen) passing through a weeping crowd in a coffee shop. They are crying because Baby Diego the world's youngest person has been murdered. He was 18 years old at death and he was the last person to be born on earth because all of the women are now infertile. He was stabbed to death by a fan after refusing to give an autograph. The television shows images of him throughout his life and talks of how he had difficulty dealing with his celebrity. After Theo exits the shop a bomb goes off. All of this happens within a single hand-held take that drives home the chaos and terror of the world that now exists.

Theo is the common man, apolitical and cynical, he constantly smokes and takes hits from his pint of scotch. His one escape is to go see his old friend Jasper (Michael Caine) who lives in a hideaway in the country with his dogs and cats. Jasper's wife was a photojournalist who is now catatonic after being tortured several years earlier by the government. Theo is a government bureaucrat, but after he is kidnapped by a terror group headed by his former lover Julian Taylor (Julianne Moore), we find out more about his past. Theo and Julian were once activists and lovers and had lost a child together. She wants him to obtain transit papers for her so they can get a young woman move within the country. 

His cousin Nigel works for the government, and in an incredible scene put to the music of KIng Crimson, Theo arrives at the Tate Modern in an attempt to secure the papers. Nigel has been trying to save the world's art. As Theo enters he is confronted with a damaged Michelangelo's David. Picasso's Guernica hangs on the wall behind them as they eat lunch. A float of a pig drifts in the sky above the towers of the museum.

The center of the film is Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) who needs the transit papers because she is the key to the future of mankind. She needs to be delivered to the Human Project, a group that is trying to find a way to keep the dying planet from becoming extinct.

After Theo meets Kee, there is another amazing single take sequence in a car where the group is attacked and a shocking act of violence occurs. It is visceral, kinetic, desperate, and real. 

There is also a beautiful scene in a barn full of cows and milking machines where Kee reveals her secret to Theo and asks him to help her reach the Human Project because he is the only person she can trust.

The entire film has a visual style that immerses the viewer into the chaotic actions that the characters are going through and experiencing. Children of Men presents a future that comments on the present. This world does seem plausible and real and not all that far away. There are references to the Iraq War and the torture at Abu Ghraib, as well as allusions to Nazis and Fascists from the atrocities of the 20th Century. The film does not paint the rebels in a positive light either as there is conflict within the ranks. Evil has infected all aspects of life.

But there is hope and sacrafice as well. After a harrowing scene in a refugee camp where Theo and Kee are surrounded by death and violence they find their way out. The power of life literally stops the war so they can escape. They find their way into a small boat and wait in the mist for the ship from the Human Project. 

Children of Men has an immediacy and power that few films can match. It examines a world of fear and chaos and a possible endgame for mankind, yet it presents a positive light that somehow we will find a way to continue.