Friday, April 16, 2010

Strange creatures

District 9 is really unlike any movie I've seen before. The only thing that even comes close is Alien Nation, but District 9 has more action.
This isn't really a movie about aliens. It's a movie about apartheid. Only aliens are the subject of discrimination and oppression, and being very insect-like, the things done to them are slightly more horrific.
So, I'd heard some things about this film. I'd heard the documentary-style camera-work could leave you feeling slightly dizzy. I don't agree with that assessment. The majority of the meat of this movie are not filmed in that style. The parts that are documentary style are, for the most part, pretty steady. It's the action sequences that are sometimes shaky, but not in a way that was disorienting or distracting. For me, anyway.
Besides the similarities to Alien Nation, the story is very unique, very solid, and very entertaining. I was hooked from the first few minutes and on the edge of my seat for the rest of the film. There are some very disturbing scenes, and lots of violence. There is one particular scene early-on regarding the destruction of alien eggs, and I found it particularly hard to watch.
An excellent plot with good main characters. You've got some cartoonishly sketched minor players, but their dialogue isn't too bad.
The acting is very good. Sharlto Copely, who plays the main character Wikus, is very engaging and touchingly human. He's not the sort of person you'd expect as the main character of an action movie. He's not exactly a hero, either, but you root for him just the same. He's your average guy caught in the middle of a very bizarre and disturbing situation. And Copely makes it easy to sympathize with him. Jason Cope, who plays the true hero, the alien Christopher Johnson, did the herculean task of making a CGI insect-like alien seem full of emotions. His performance is great.
The effects are practically seamless. I was impressed by that. The alien ships are by far the crowning glory. The weapons as well.
The ending begs for a sequel, but I sincerely hope no sequel will be made. At first I was hoping for some great resolution about the ways in which the aliens are treated, but to try and put a nice Hollywood-type bow on the end of such a harrowing tale would be too saccharine. But the movie does avoid a completely tragic ending. That was a relief.
It's sad to say, though, that in real life instances of segregation, ghettos and apartheid, there's rarely some deus ex machina that swoops in to give people hope.

I also just watched Eraserhead. To try and describe David Lynch's pioneer work is an effort in futility. Rich in metaphor, this 1977 cult classic seems oddly timeless. It imparts a deep sense of foreboding, isolation, and desperation. Layered with dream sequences and surreal, well, everything, it is difficult to discern what is really happening. Then again, this is David Lynch. Nothing is really happening. It is a movie in the strictest sense. A moving picture, all plot and imagery, story is an afterthought. Lynch has called it his most spiritual work. Morality plays a large part in this film.
*Disclaimer- this film is very slow-moving for being only 88 minutes long. But, try and power through it. If you're not the art-film type, you might want to skip this one.

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