Saturday, March 13, 2010

District 9 Review: What's worthy of a best picture?

This is my 24h film I've seen of 2009. Suggestions for my 25th?
I'm thinking Informant, Capitalism a Love Story, Bad Luietentant, Blind Side, A Serious Man, Avatar, Adventureland, Taking of Pelham 123. Year One is readily available on itunes but I think I will avoid it.

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Nonetheless, here's District 9:

The film is a science fiction movie and one of only about five that have ever been nominated for an academy award, which says a lot about the film already (even if it was clearly in the 6-10 category). So right away, I expected before watching the coming in that this film is either very well-made, managed to crossover to mainstream elements, or just hit a chord with the academy. I’d probably place it in the third category.

I don’t think this is a film that it stands out to everyone who watches it. Some problems were that it lost some of my attention once the exposition into this neat little world was out of the way. The problem was that the theme of aliens as a parallel for human oppression became obvious in a way reminiscent of the 1960’s version of Star Trek so sloppily used aliens of the week as a way to discuss current issues (I still like to watch Star Trek for nostalgia). One other problem is that the film hinges on the chemistry between a human and an alien and it’s hard for the alien to have a lot of character because there’s no modulation in his alien voice: it’s a series of clicky throaty noises he speaks in.

On second viewing, I came to like it a lot more and see the film’s value. Its theme is kind of obvious but the film approaches that theme with a lot of realism and fleshes out this fictional society with a lot more detail than an episode of Star Trek. In this sense, it’s a mood piece: You’re admiring the details of the camerawork and visuals as much as you’re paying attention to the story. At the same time, while there isn’t a lot of chemistry between the two main characters, the one main character with a speaking voice, bureaucrat Wikus van der Merwe, is a magnetic enough character to follow the story along with and a very unique point of view.

1 comment:

Reel Whore said...

I've seen Informant, Bad Lt, and A Serious Man and they are all solid films. Bad Lt is bizarre, but too crazy not to see.

I really enjoyed D9 when I saw it last summer. I've been meaning to watch it again. Sharlto Copley had to carry the whole film and really pulled it off.