Sunday, 13 September 2009

District 9

Went to the pictures this afternoon, an appropriate entertainment for a day that had proven suddenly autumnal. Saw District 9, a South African sci fi film. It's great! It explains very little and shows you a great deal of fun stuff.

Like all the best sci fi, it takes themes from contemporary culture and presents us with metaphorical teasers. On the surface, this one is about race, about the othering and subjugation of millions of people. It's about the ways that political oppression is sustained and how easily we can all be hoodwinked by the powerful. It has so many more delicate touches in it too.

It works on every level, I think. The cinematography is great (it reminded me hugely of City of God), the sound is great (the click language of the aliens, the incidental music) and the effects are very well managed. The 'prawns' make the Cylon centurions look clunky and robotic. But the main thing is that it's a rattling good story that moves along at a fair old lick, and you can't predict every turn of the plot, right up until the ending where much is tantalisingly unresolved. I admired the ending very much. And the central figure of Wikus van der Merwe is played by a guy who's apparently never been in a film before: Sharlto Copley. He does a great job. You like him, he's funny, but even from the first he is seamlessly inserting crude racist epithets into everyday exchanges and he's no mindless mass-market Hollywood good guy.

I'm sure there's lot more to say but have to go cook some prawns.

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