Sunday, August 16, 2009

STREAM-OF-CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION - Pent-Up Anger Edition : DISTRICT 9


[NOTE: This is where the blogger gives himself a strict 10 minutes to rattle off whatever about a movie he just saw that he doesn't feel deserves a thoughtful edited review but still feels the need to feed the animals anyway. Quality is of no concern.]

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Tonight, as I was relaxing at a local record store, going through records and then buying them, I was calm, collected, and chill. But when I heard two clerks slobbering over the highly overrated and well let's just go ahead and say shitty new film District 9, I knew I had to come home and let some steam off. Tomorrow is a day when will be talking about a Rainer Werner Fassbinder film here at TRACTOR FACTS (btw... please show up and give me hits even if you don't leave comments) and because of that some of his quotes are feresh on my mind. One of them is something to the effect of "People praised and gave me awards for Katzlemacher not because they thought it was a good film but because they thought it was making a statement about immigrants. That wasn't my intention". And though the intentions of South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp are at least part definitely ppolitical, I think Fassbinder's comment about why people are praising this film so much (Best Picture??? WTF?!?!?) applies here. There is a lot of chatter of how this film is socially conscious. Utter crap. Yes, it WANTS to be, but give me a break, and then give me another one because I'm tired of hearing it. What, just because tehre are aliens in a camp in Johannesberg this film is automatically referencing apartheid in South Africa? Or, because of that same set up, people believe Blomkamp is making a commentary on immigration or oppression in general? And what do you have in teh film to back that up please?? What Blomkamp gives us is a treacle. At first we're told that the aliens are savages that derail trains for fun, kill humans without care, and have no concept of personal property so they raid and ravage nearby neighborhoods and villages. But THEN Blomkamp gives us a silly story and an alien named Christopher and his little cute son. It's as if the most sentimental garbage was just plopped on screen to convince people of this silly oppression is wrong storyline. Oppression is wrong, but you won't find a smart hammering out of that here. This is garbage. It's a video game for people who play video games but want to see a movie like the ones they play. Exploding head and blood splatters pop and splash just like some XBox game and the humor in this hits like the worst of Peter Jacksons early years. Go rent District B-13 instead. Seriously. The message that Blomkamp WANTS to achieve with his movie is fleshed out humanely and wisely and smartly in District B-13. It's a real move. District 9 is not. District 9 sucks and you all know it. Peace.

13 comments:

PIPER said...

Okay, you did it.

You have taken the key and opened the door to the anger I have suppressed about this movie.

Didn't much care for it and I thought I was crazy for not liking it. But if crazy is wrong, then I don't wanna be a right.

Plus, aside from the "political" statement it was making, wasn't this in effect the plot of Aliens? Big Government wants to know more about aliens to use them as weapons?

Ed Howard said...

On the one hand I totally agree: the film's messages are confused and poorly developed and people are reading whatever they want into the film as a result. The political references are pretty much just basic signifiers that aren't ever fleshed out into a coherent statement. I sometimes felt like the filmmakers had seen and really loved Starship Troopers but couldn't quite pull off Verhoeven's total commitment to his fascistic universe.

On the other hand, it's a pretty great action movie despite some goofy humor and stuff that didn't work. And it's brutal and in-your-face and really confronts the audience with the ugliness of oppression and exploitation. I don't think it's worthy of lavish praise OR the kind of slag-off you give it here.

Moviezzz said...

I thought I was alone in not liking this one too!

Can we start a support group or something?

As for the ALIENS comparison, what about the finale with the character in the Sigourney Weaver like metal fighting suit thing? How is the film not being slammed for that?

Fox said...

Piper-

Something I've noticed after this weekend: people coming out against District 9 largely because of the overpraise it's getting.

Also, I was telling my wife today that not only did the plot - and political allegory - not make sense in it's details and argument, but that the plot from District 9 is very much like a video game.

How many games are out there where 1) A wicked international government/conglomerate rules things, 2) wants high tech weapons, 3) have nobody resembling actual human beings with emotions and morals working for them, 4) and then has one of their inside men change sides.

It's note perfect. So, not only does D9 share boring video game aesthetics, it uses the same storylines.

LET THAT ANGER GO, PIPER!!

Fox said...

Oh Ed-

The logical, rational middleman... sigh. Just kidding.

But, honestly, I wasn't too hot on the action either. True, maybe my distaste for the sloppy storyline turned me off and I couldn't appreciate even technical aspects, but I really was irritated and offput by the mix of hand held, found footage, etc. I guess the alient effects were well done... I guess. But as Piper kind of alluded to in his comment, I much prefer the aliens in Alien(s).

The things about the poorly developed story of oppression is that the filmmakers are asking the audience to make a tremendous jump in feeling for the aliens. I mean, what about the aliens that exploit their OWN kind in cock-fighting rings? What about the general disdain and violence that they show the humans from the outset? Does this not factor in to the segmenting off of them? I feel that they negative side of them was introduced, and then glossed over by the father/son alien, the alien autopsy room (another video game trope), and the wha? huh? alient that gets shot.

Lastly, um, these aliens appear to have the strength of 10 men and weapons that could blow the Jesus out of anyone who tried to illegitimately contain them. Why didn't they, you know, just mount up and get things done if they were so forced into concetration camps? Were they moral and ethical creatures that didn't want to kill humans? No. They were savages. And, to draw parallels between apartheid or any type of immigrant oppression based on that is just insulting to real victims of oppression.

Just so many holes and questions and leaps in logic. I'm amazed at the praise this movie is getting I tell ya.

Fox said...

Can we start a support group or something?...

Moviezzz-

Totally! I am way down with that. D-9SUCKS.COM.

And another good point about the power suit in Aliens. Forgot about that, not to mention the battle armor that Belial suits up in for the finale of Basket Case 3. Now THAT was the shit!

Luke Harrington said...

*playing devil's advocate*

I think y'all might be asking a bit too much of the film if you want it to fairly parse out all the subtleties of apartheid. This is, first and foremost, a movie about dudes blowing stuff up.

What the film did well -- and what it's been receiving the bulk of its praise for -- was to bring the "alien" genre into the 21st century by giving it themes its contemporaries could relate to. (That alien-as-invaders bit hasn't been relevant since the Berlin Wall came down.) It didn't do this perfectly, or maybe even thoughtfully, but it was undeniably original in its mixing of themes and genres.

I elaborate a bit in this review, but I'm afraid you'll all lynch me if and when you read it...

(Fox, as always, your reviews make me smile. Keep up the good work, man.)

Fox said...

Luke-

Awww... come on man, we wouldn't lynch. Maybe shadowbox with an imaginary you or draw mean pictures in red ink on our notebook covers... but nothing physically violent!!

I see your point about detractors focusing too much on the poorly played politics of the film, but it seems to be dominating a lot of heavily-praised reviews, and thus elevating District 9 to a level I think is undeserved.

Now, I haven't read many interviews with Bloomkamp about the film, and to be fair, I should. I would like to know his intentions.

Still, separate the politics, and I still wasn't into the film. It became a bit tedious to me after a while. I think Jason Bellamy mentions this in his review, but I think it's weird that this film is being mentioned along with Moon as refreshing sci-fi since the films are so disparately opposed from each other.

Oh, and I will definitely be checking out your review today. But later in the day since I have to catch up on a day's worth of work.

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