Sunday, January 24, 2010


District 9 (2009) has many virtues: a well-chosen allegorical framework, a convincing visual aesthetic which mixes simulated news footage, security footage and a general air of verismilitude (for a completely implausible premise); seamless motion capture animation (One begins to wonder if the aliens aren't being played by guys in suits like an old 50's horror-scifi pic.), and a completely surprising performance in the leading role by an actor who evidently hasn't been paid to act before this.

But I can sum up it's overall quality by simply saying that it is completely original. The story keeps shifting ground from political allegory to grisly horror to buddy drama to family saga, as though it had no idea it had gone past genrebending to full-on genre mash-up. You can't tell if the filmmakers (a Canadian writer-director working with a New Zealand company shooting in South Africa) were simply going their own way or looking over their shoulders not at just a film or a genre, but practically every film they'd ever seen and loved. With nary a cliche in sight. No wonder it required Peter Jackson to guarantee it in order to be financed--it's just what the suits hate. Complete creativity, complete originality. Without aspiring to be an Important Drama (as Children of Men did), it should not be confined to the sci-fi ghetto. Not important, except in the way that anything really creative and really original and really good is important.

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