Friday, February 5, 2010

District 9

Ok so here's another piece of compulsory viewing for 2009-2010. Well, compulsory only if you can handle shaky "documentary-style" camera-work and R-rated bloody alien gore. There is A LOT of alien gore.

So if you're not familiar with the storyline already, alien ship "washes up" on Johannesburg, South Africa, filled with hordes of malnourished extra-terrestrials. The local government sets up a refugee camp of sorts, which soon becomes an alien ghetto slum that causes all sorts of problems for the human citizens of J-burg. A tough and cheerful official is put in charge of a project to move over 1 million of these aliens to a distant location (ie, concentration camp). This is when the problems start.

Throughout the first part of the film (showing the interaction between humans and the aliens in the ghetto slum), I felt very weird inside. Partly because of the very-current refugee/ghetto situation and the cruelty aimed at the aliens. Also, because the director very successfully supplanted this very alien situation into an extremely believable contemporary reality. The first part of the film mostly uses documentary style/news footage clips, adding to the surreal believability of the scenario. This gave me a very unsettled and uneasy feeling - AWESOME,... this is what a good surreal-sci-fi/horror-type film should do. Imagine Cronenberg, add an alien-apartheid situation and put the whole thing on FAST FORWARD and then you've got District 9.

Oh, and I need to mention that the special effects are INSANE. People keep talking on about how the special effects in AVATAR changed their life. Sorry I haven't seen this film, but I reckon District 9 would stomp all over it. The director, Neill Blomkamp, worked for years as an animator... and the result is that you totally buy all the special effects. The aliens are REAL, which makes it all the more creepy. And, no 3D glasses required. Oh, and also, the story-line and dialogue are also ... really good.

Lastly, If you think you can bear the shaky camera work on a big screen, I recommend seeing this at the cinema. I watched this on our piddly TV and thought at times that it'd be heaps better with a big screen and full sound.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Up In the Air

In trying to find some good movies to watch, I was browsing top films on Rotten Tomatoes. Up In the Air had like 92%, so I thought I'd give it a go. The movie ratings on Rotten Tomatoes are not always reliable. Films that I've loved, have only scored in the 50's and 60's, and then some films that I think are total bullshit have scored in the 90's. So you can't use this website as a guide for all films. However, in this case, I realised that the film is by the writer/director of Thankyou for Smoking, Jason Reitman. If you haven't already seen that film, it's really funny and I recommend it. C and I once went to see it at Innaloo Megaplex Greater Union whatever it's called on a Saturday night and although the cinema foyer was PACKED, there were only about 5 other people watching the same film as us. So we could kinda stretch out across the seats of a row as if we were on a couch at home. I was kind of wearing my pyjamas under my coat, which made it all pretty awesome.

Anyway, what have I got to say about Jason Reitman based on these two films. Well, he knows how to WRITE. The characters and dialogue were great. Both films are pretty smart and I consider them both to be compulsory viewing. I don't know what else I can tell you about Up in the Air that you can't learn from other sources. Oh! Anna Kendrick's portrayal of a early 20's graduate go-getter was spot-on. Intense and still with a head full of book-learning from university. Aww.

I just realised I have neglected to mention that Jason Reitman also directed Juno, a film which upon retrospect, I realise that I didn't really like. I liked the aesthetics of the film, the music, the characters, everything. The only problem was, Ellen Page's character, Juno's lines were just WAY TOO witty/ironic/sarcastic for her age. It didn't seem believable to me. I wished they would've toned it down a bit so I could believe in her character a little more. But hey, Jason Reitman didn't actually write this film, so it's not entirely his fault.

Oh, and one last point, I never noticed this before but George Clooney's voice is REALLY DEEP. C recently built these funny sound-trap things for our lounge-room for his recording, and it makes the bass level on everything pretty immense. George is definitely a real man.