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_District 9_ movie notes



My brother Paul and I saw the movie this evening--a movie about alien refugees stuck in a camp outside Johannesburg, South Africa. It has narrative similarities to Children of Men but also the editing style of The Hurt Locker. Overall this movie was really enjoyable, in a sci-fi suspension of disbelief way. District 9 is fun; its CGI is believable; its acting workable; its suspense strong (except, like in Children of Men, a run on foot from assault weapons isn't believable). The story is set from the point of view of journalists; we know that something big has happened with the alien population but the movie unfolds that information for us.

District 9 currently has a really high rating on IMDB.com. This will go down beause D9 does not have narrative or thematic innovations. It's Alien Nation meets Starship Troopers meets Transformers (re: the CGI emphasis) meets Children of Men. With all of the explosions, movies of this kind do not have space for complexity (via symbol, motif, sound), and thereby move away from the traditions of staged drama and literature, and therefore do not take on resonance of meaning. We're left with basic ethical situations: how should a human treat a non-human guest? How should we treat the Other? What is the role of the corporation, the scientist, the everyman when confronted by new cultures and new races? It's easy to fall into agitprop on these questions, so I'll just say that District 9 is solid on these questions but that the movie does not ask for its viewer to question much. "That was messed up," was what someone said after the movie, referring to the aliens and the weapons. I share the sentiment.
No profanes - sacred
 
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