jack_ryder

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Iain's life as a psychotic crimefighter


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jack_ryder

District 9

murasaki_1966 and I finally saw this last night and I can't say I was disappointed because-


-it was exactly what I thought it would be like before I heard all the hype.


Kudos to Blomkamp for attempting a serious SF film in today's climate, especially one about a refugee crisis but I found it heavy handed and confused.


How much agency do the "prawns" actually have? There was no attempt (at least, if there was, I missed it) to give them any kind of distinct culture other than the now traditional slumdog aestheticised poverty.


The documentary aesthetic also bothered me. I think it's overused for across exposition but, as this was a film with a political intent, I felt I also needed to know who was making the documentary and for what reason. Like with Van De Merwe's Fly like transformation I was hoping for more, not exactly subtlety, but more exploration.

I can recommend the film (it is one of those parables that I fear will never be outdated) but I think we are so starved of genuinely thoughtful mainstream cinema that we tend to over-appreciate a fairly indifferently prepared meal.

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I'm not trying to argue you out of your opinion, but I will say that beating on the movie for what it isn't is unfair. "District 9" was never intended to be a "serious SF film", it was intended to be an action movie. The movie's fairly thoughtful as far as it goes, but there are demands of plot and pacing that have to come first. I seriously doubt Blomkamp started with the intent of making a serious movie about apartheid. I think he saw the chance to make an action movie that had something on its mind.

I'm not trying to argue you out of your opinion, but I will say that beating on the movie for what it isn't is unfair.

Yeah, I agree and I was going to make that point but was writing in a hurry (as I was trying to frame my argument before I left for work.)

I was hoping to re-edit it before anyone replied but - too late.

The reviews (and responses of my friends) made me think that "District 9" was going to be a more interesting film than I found it. I still mourn the unexplored possibilities but, as you say, it's not really that kind of film.


Don't get me wrong. I'd love to see a deep, serious film that closed with a massive mech fight. That would have vastly improved "A Beautiful Mind." And "Crash". In fact, replace cars with mechs in "Crash" and it might actually be tolerable.

We need to get you into Hollywood as quickly as possible.

Hmm. I agree with jackryder.

thetathx1138, I'm afraid you're wrong. Why? You know those reaction bits where people are asked about how they feel 'prawns' will affect their neighbourhoods? Those are real, except the question was how having other cultures like Nigerians moving in.

As to agency, I think fanwank consensus is they are some sort of worker caste and the leaders are all dead, perhaps except the one we see with all the tech. Or perhaps he's of a tech caste, as his plan is to leave and go find leaders.
I hadn't really thought of the implications of the documentary framing.

Y'know, once upon a time Star Trek would do this sort of thing, in a less gritty manner to be sure.

Edited at 2009-09-29 10:00 pm (UTC)

thetathx1138, I'm afraid you're wrong. Why? You know those reaction bits where people are asked about how they feel 'prawns' will affect their neighbourhoods? Those are real, except the question was how having other cultures like Nigerians moving in.

So what? That doesn't mean Blomkamp set out to make "Solaris" in South Africa. It means his script needed a specific reaction from non-actors, so he did what he needed to get it. That's thirty seconds out of a ninety-minute movie.

As to agency, I think fanwank consensus is they are some sort of worker caste

That's a theory presented in the film, actually, although the movie seems to be intentionally leaving the cause vague.

That's a theory presented in the film, actually, although the movie seems to be intentionally leaving the cause vague.

Which is a very good case for Blomkamp's use of the documentary format (in part of the film) as it allows for multiple "truths" to exist within the narrative (without confirming a specific interpretation.)

So what? That doesn't mean Blomkamp set out to make "Solaris" in South Africa. It means his script needed a specific reaction from non-actors, so he did what he needed to get it. That's thirty seconds out of a ninety-minute movie.

Sometimes we need to be aware of the inherent limitations of making a film.

Despite my misgivings - the realities of actually getting a film out there practically require Blomkamp to have a white protagonist. The allegations of racism I was skating around in a lower post (and I think other reviews have made more explicitly) should really take into account the economic realities of marketing films (i.e. - a black hero would practically guarantee that the film would be buried on direct to video.)


Agency in films dealing with racial issues is a big deal for me. I agree with Dan that you can't criticise a film for what you want it to be, but I still think the film is less interesting (to me) than it could have been.

The "passivity" of the worker caste (and "caste" is another hot-button topic for me) is contradicted in the film by the crime reports and the need to search for weapon stockpiles. I assume Blomkamp is using the arguments that were used to strip the black population of their rights in apartheid South Africa against the prawns (hence the need for scenes that raise questions about the assumptions of "caste") but I think he undermines the point (I assume) he is making by not showing the existence of a distinctive alien culture. I was reminded of james_nicoll's formulation of the standard SF trope "What this planet needs is one good honky" which "District 9" fortunately avoided (mostly) at the climax of the film but I think it would be a far more interesting film if "Christopher" was actually the protagonist (after all, he's the only real hero, apart from Van De Merwe's workmate who attempts to expose MNU and is pretty much dismissed over the end credits.)

I just find it troubling that a film ostensibly about apartheid and refugees effectively marginalises the only two characters that actively try to change things for the better. It doesn't help that one of them is an alien and the other is black - it reactivates the grudge I've held against Mississippi Burning.

Christopher was the one that I was watching - the only hero I could see around.

And I just want to say that even if it is intended as an action-adventure film, at least it invokes interesting discussions.

Yeah, it's definitely a case of "not the worst or least intelligent film ever made" being spun into some kind of actual acclaim.

I didn't mind it but as far as its subject matter and themes were concerned, it seemed under-researched and under-conceived. It seemed oddly unaware of its literary antecedents as well?

I just spent the whole time trying not to throw up. I've just found out I can't handle Shakycam films.

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