Wednesday, February 3, 2010

District 9

District 9 was released in Canada on August 14, 2009. Since there is no one else to mention in the cast, I will reference the lead played by Sharlto Copley. You have not seen him before, and no one should fall over with shock if you never see him again. The Director is Neill Blomkamp, also a relative unknown but a Canadian talent who has caught some significant attention with this film.

What does one say about the plot? Three words come to mind... Full. Weird. On. District 9 is more than meets the eye. On face value, it is a science fiction thriller. Copley is an Afrikaner bureaucrat who is assigned to evict a race of aliens from a slum they have inhabited in Johannesburg. Of course, on a deeper level it is one enormous parody of the events which took place in District 6 in Cape Town, South Africa during the apartheid era. The film is wildly unique and grossly disturbing.

Quite unbelievably to me, there are four Oscar nominations for District 9, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects and Best Editing. The visual effects and editing are both very good, and while not the best in either category the nominations are deserved. I can even understand the Screenplay nod. The documentary style, paired with the parody are sharp but overly contrived. I would have preferred to have Julie & Julia or even The Road show up in this category. The Best Picture nomination is flawed beyond definition. While unique and deserving of some recognition in the special effects categories, this is simply not Best Picture material. It would not have been nominated in a field of five, and serves to just dilute the recognition afforded to the deserving nominees that cannot win. This is why a ten nominee option is problematic.

District 9 is indeed an edgy creative work. The Academy may have overstated its merits due to the 10-Nominee Debaucle, but it is an interesting effort. To appreciate this, you either have to love science fiction or have a pathological commitment to the Oscars. I wouldn't recommend watching this film over dinner.

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