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Old February 25 2010, 07:11 PM   #249
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Re: Movies Seen in 2010

Sherlock Holmes [B-]
Men in Black [A]
Up in the Air [A]
Star Trek: The Motion Picture [D+]
I'm Not There [A]
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009) [D-]
American Violet [B ]
Inglourious Basterds [A]
Death at a Funeral [B ]
A Serious Man [A]
The Hurt Locker [A-]
Mad Max 2 (AKA The Road Warrior) [C]
The Book of Eli [C-]
Elegy [B+]
Close Encounters of the Third Kind [A]
The Invention of Lying [B-]
Gamer [C]
Timecrimes [A]
Metropolis [A]
Pandorum [B ]
Raiders of the Lost Ark [A]
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade [A]
Moon [A]
Fun with Dick and Jane [C]
Sunshine [C]
Stanley Kubrick's The Killing [B+]
Ernest Hemingway's The Killers (1964) [A-]
Ernest Hemingway's The Killers (1946) [B+]
Glengarry Glen Ross [B-]
Gattaca [A]
The Big Chill [ B]
The Producers [A]
Rent [C+]
Blade Runner [A]
My Cousin Vinny [B-]
Zombieland [ B]
Infernal Affairs [A]
The Walker [F]
Starship Troopers [A]
Mrs. Washington Goes to Smith [F]
Altered States [A]
Devil in a Blue Dress [ B]
Renaissance [ B]
District 9 [ B]

Rennaissance: This is a movie with an incomporable and very cool look. With the exception of one short sequence which uses bright colors, the entire film is animated in stark black and white. And I mean black and white--there are no shades of grey. I describe the look, because that's the main selling point. Once you get past it, and the very interesting depiction of Paris fifty years in the future, you're left with a story that isn't terribly exceptional, but it gets the job done.

District 9: This is the second time I've seen this film, after it's theatrical release, this time with the director's commentary. Blomkamp offers a number of interesting explanations for things in the film. Of course, the thing I was most hungry to have explained, the Nigerians, isn't answered to my satisfaction (and drops the film a letter grade). At first Blomkamp describes them as satirical characters, but he goes to such lengths lauding the film's realism almost everywhere else that I don't buy it. Then he makes the claim that they are practicing traditional medicine, called muhta. That may be something that goes on in South Africa, but Blomkamp's depiction of the practice (a witch doctor and a gang boss who starts to salivate and lick his fingers at the sight of Wikus) still ends up coming off as a racial caricature. It's a shame, because a more rational motivation is right there on screen, waiting to be used: The Nigerians collect alien weaponry, and like MNU, want to exploit Wikus to use them by any means. Instead, we're left to mull over witch doctors, and what could have been an important parallel isn't nearly as strong.

But that's an awful lot of complaining about a movie I mostly like. Well-edited (definitely worthy of its nomination there), well-photographed, and with a great deal of excellent sound design, it's a great technical work. Creatively, the documentary style is very effective and the Wikus character complex and fully formed. The film is a scathing critique of the corporation, and of private military forces (a critique that is more successful here than in Avatar, I think). I'll be seeing it again at some point, surely.
"This begs explanation." - de Forest Research on Star Trek

My blog: Star Trek Fact Check.
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