District 9

Aug. 29th, 2009 11:50 pm
urbanamazon: (TWINLATDOES - Mystery Hickey)
Okay, first and foremost, lemme get the formalities out of the way. I am officially removing Transformers 2 from my list of summer movies. Never no mind that I've already seen it at this point, it's off the damn list. It's now over in the pile of 'stuff I saw once', sitting only slightly higher than The Mummy - Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.

Very slightly. Just a hair... a hair labeled 'maybe once more, but only when I'm really drunk'. God but that was bad.

District 9 is now on the list, and I snuck out to see it by myself just now in victory of passing my driving re-test.

And now I don't really know how to go forward talking about it. I'm avoiding spoilers, but I feel like I should just write a multiple choice test and throw a dart at the answers.

District 9 is ______.
a) Hardcore science fiction done in mockumentary style that makes Cloverfield and Quarantine shrivel and die like slugs in the searing light of the hot sun.
b) Uncomfortably sharp critical commentary on the hypocrisy and cruelty of human civilization.
c) An extremely skilled piece of filmmaking that yanks its genre's bar back up to levels not seen in fifteen years.
d) Possibly the cause for my current state of queasy stomach by either content or motion sickness.
e) Serious Oscar material for sound editing, performance, special effects, editing, makeup, and more.
f) Not my usual cup of tea for the fact that it is about as far from escapism as a film can goddamn get.
g) Fucking awesome.
h) A rated R science fiction movie completely lacking in compromise and pulled punches, and it's about bloody time.
i) All of the above.

See? I don't even know if I can pick 'All of the above'. I've got this category in my head, of movies and other works that I deeply respect for their accomplishments and messages, for their technical achievements and performances, but I will never, ever watch again. For example, I have on my shelf the entire series of Over There. I watched all but two episodes with my family as they aired a few years ago, and I really, really enjoyed them. It was one of the least political and most humanizing depictions of war and soldiers that I've ever seen, and I was deeply disappointed that it only had a single season.

Maybe in a few years I might be able to watch the series again, if ever.

Realistic war is a squick of mine, and a severe one. Not for matters of gore, but for matters of conviction, inhumanity, and the devaluing of all levels of life. Movies, music, television, and storytelling... I go for escapism. I go for fantasy. I go to be reminded that human imagination is the most magnificent and vastly inspirational thing in the world, and some stories are lucky enough to be realized at that scale, and shared.

Now, that said... District 9 really is all of the above, including 'fucking awesome'. It's original science fiction of the kind that rarely gets to be seen this competently and magnificently adapted. It's like a short story that you read in an anthology years ago. It's seamless in the way it slides between documentary and action and back, showcasing a place on earth that would be alien except for its terrifying symmetry to actual events. The more you see these things done to the CGI alien characters, the louder that little voice in the back of your head starts asking, 'This movie doesn't mean to say that they did this to other people, other human beings... does it? Did they?'

If or when I find myself teaching pop culture as a critical art form, or science fiction as a necessary representation of contemporary culture, morals, and philosophy, it would be on the list in a heartbeat. I recommend it heartily, I just recommend it with heavy, heavy warning.

Anyhoo. Tired. Last weekend on my own here before roommates start trickling in. Going to fall asleep to the babble of, ironically, heavily tv-censored Starship Troopers. Good night, moon. Good night, cats. Good night, Herr NPH.

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