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futuristxen



Joined: 01 Jul 2002
Posts: 19356
Location: Tighten Your Bible Belt
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Buddy Peace wrote:
passenger wrote:
man i'm glad i don't look into things as much as some of you guys...


I think doing this is one of the beautiful and powerful aspects of films. You have to get a little bit deeper inside them to really see what they're getting at - it's not a mundane or boring thing to do, it's actually really exciting and sometimes you can dig up some real gold. I've only seen one trailer for this which gave nothing away really (they made it look like Independence Day - bear in mind this is the UK advert and they've only just begun the promo!), but whether it's a film you love or one you hate, there is always, always more going on beneath the surface. And it's interesting investigating it too.

I'm not saying debates must start as soon as you've hit the stop button - of course not - but sometimes films stay with you for days, years, even your whole life, and trying to find out why can be one of the most rewarding aspects of film. Whether you just think it through in your mind or talk it out, you can get some real goodness out of it sometimes.


Agreed!
Post Wed Aug 26, 2009 2:27 am
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TurnpikeGates



Joined: 30 Jun 2003
Posts: 517
Location: Bay Area
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Buddy Peace wrote:
passenger wrote:
man i'm glad i don't look into things as much as some of you guys...


I think doing this is one of the beautiful and powerful aspects of films. You have to get a little bit deeper inside them to really see what they're getting at - it's not a mundane or boring thing to do, it's actually really exciting and sometimes you can dig up some real gold. I've only seen one trailer for this which gave nothing away really (they made it look like Independence Day - bear in mind this is the UK advert and they've only just begun the promo!), but whether it's a film you love or one you hate, there is always, always more going on beneath the surface. And it's interesting investigating it too.

I'm not saying debates must start as soon as you've hit the stop button - of course not - but sometimes films stay with you for days, years, even your whole life, and trying to find out why can be one of the most rewarding aspects of film. Whether you just think it through in your mind or talk it out, you can get some real goodness out of it sometimes.


Thank you for saying this in a less snide and more inspiring way than I did above.

For me the debate never starts immediately after the movie. Movies, especially in the theater, always leave me in a different state. Even bad ones. Often I find that the people with whom I've viewed a film want to discuss and hear my opinion as we're walking to the car. For some reason, I find this irritating and grudgingly give something ranging from "ok" to "pretty good." Usually my brain's still marinating in the experience... it's a bit too raw to start picking it apart. I don't like to really get into it until the next day or later.

Mostly what I turn over mentally during that period is thematic, aesthetic, and moral. I'm trying to figure out what the director was trying to say, whether I agree, whether it worked, how it worked, what the picture conveyed, etc. To bring it back around to District 9... most of the time I'm not ruminating on race, but my analysis pretty frequently hinges on my political perspective and moral understanding, from which race is not always separable. People bring their perspectives with them to the theater, as much as the director brings his/hers to the set. I don't think it's overstepping to interrogate the racial/ethnic politics of a movie that is so much about identity/difference/community/hate/intolerance. Whatever we think about those politics in the end, it's a credit to the director that he managed to squeeze all this possibility in to a film that isn't playing for 2 weeks in L.A. and New York to 10 critics and 2 college students.
Post Wed Aug 26, 2009 2:29 am
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Buddy Peace



Joined: 21 Jul 2002
Posts: 1652
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I hear you on the instant opinion thing - I'm the same, unless something really grinds me or I really love it, it's usually "yeah, not bad" - it takes a while to let things seep in to your consciousness. I remember with Antichrist it was the same - some people I was with said "That was SHIT!" - and some folks in the cinema had quite an instant visceral reaction to it. I'm not saying I thought it was an amazing film, but I knew it would take a while for the impact and the messages to arrive... And I am prone to outside influence sometimes, especially reviews.

One interesting idea I heard recently was an interview with - I think it was - George Romero, or maybe another horror/zombie film director - who was saying about how you are always too close to the era to determine whether films are a statement about that particular era, or rather what the statement is. This is probably more centred around horror but it's a fascinating point. I wish I could articulate this better but it was an interesting idea... He mentioned some horror films from the 70's, and not necessarily the really popular ones, that had a real resonance with the time but what they were really saying was clouded with all that was happening at that time... So when you're a good couple of decades on you can see, from a distance, what was happening in cinema and with trends at that time, and what the general mood and feeling was in the directorial sense.

I know that seems pretty ramblesome and if I find this interview I'll post it up but I thought that made some sense, about being too close to the current era to judge it objectively...

This wasn't a retort to what you said there though about the directors perspective and the audience - it's more about films in general at a certain time rather than one film in particular. And it is fascinating what YOU as a viewer will bring to a viewing and what you interpret in it directly afterwards. Pretty much everything is accounted for in film making - stuff like the script, the storyboard, the edits, everything - obviously there are some chance things that happen but little is left to that. I guess when you consider that, it's down to the audience to filter out what we can - and what we want.
Post Wed Aug 26, 2009 4:33 am
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box johnson



Joined: 25 Nov 2008
Posts: 1123
Location: Denver
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Jared Paul wrote:
No need to sling insults papi.


The internet always puts a little extra snide in my words. Thanks for a very reasonable discussion over this movie.

@Turnpike: A majority of the protestors were black, and there were countless interviews of JHB residents talking about how the aliens had effected their way of life. There were black soldiers. Don't forget the guy who hacked into the computer. I still think the issues are with you and Jared's perception, not the film, but I've said all I came to say.
Post Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:27 am
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passenger



Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 637
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i suppose my comment was vague. I am all for debate and discussing thoughts on movies. I just think some of the things that i read on this board about movies are so far out in left field and although interesting to read, I am glad i don't share these thoughts as i feel it would take away from the entertainment and enjoyment of the film. That's all.
Post Wed Aug 26, 2009 9:45 am
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TurnpikeGates



Joined: 30 Jun 2003
Posts: 517
Location: Bay Area
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box johnson wrote:
Jared Paul wrote:
No need to sling insults papi.


@Turnpike: A majority of the protestors were black, and there were countless interviews of JHB residents talking about how the aliens had effected their way of life. There were black soldiers. Don't forget the guy who hacked into the computer. I still think the issues are with you and Jared's perception, not the film, but I've said all I came to say.


Sorry, when I said the protesters, I meant the "pro-prawn" protesters. A majority of them were not black (i.e. people played as compassionate/thoughtful rather than knee-jerk NIMBY).

You're right about the guy that hacked the computer, though. He's probably the main voice of conscience we see in the movie.
I'd say that over the weeks since I saw it, the racist depiction of "savages" probably stuck with me more than the counterbalancing images, just because that's what bothered me.

And I'm willing to consider that it has to do with my perception. In fact, I'm sure it does. But it's not an invention of my perception. I just did a google search on "district 9 racist", and people are having this conversation all over the internet.

But still, in light of what you've argued, I do have to temper my criticism. It's not true that there were no reasonable depictions of black folks in the movie. I guess if anything, my discomfort with the racial politics of the movie would have to hinge on two thing:

1.) The Nigerian gangsters as savages. If Blomkamp is trying to show a parallel between the (relatively) local warlordism and exploitation, and the big corporate multinational version, fine. But it's not random that "white evil" and "black evil" take such predictable forms. The MNU is the evil of the banal (bureaucratic, corporate), while the Nigerians are a mystical, savage evil. With the movie drawn in parallels like that, after the director's likely intent, it still employs backwards notions of Africans. One typical retort to the "racism" argument in some of those other googled discussions was "well, he depicts white people as soulless and evil, too.... in fact, even moreso". But racism is not the same as white supremacy. Racism is about seeing skin color as determinant. Black people are like this, white people are like that.

2.) If this is an apartheid allegory (which the director has pretty much made clear) then the movie is adding some veneer of justification to the separation and exploitation of a people. We see scene after scene depicting the prawns as disgusting, savage, unintelligent, etc. Ok, these are aliens, fine. But if this movie is to show us how fucked up apartheid is, why not give us subjects that have an equal claim to "humanity" as black South Africans during apartheid? If its an allegory, it tells us that apartheid took place because the white colonial power didn't understand south africans, their different customs, etc. But that's a real soft criticism. Then it's all about "understanding" and "respect." I just mean that you can't have it both ways. The citizens of Johannesburg (with relatively more power) were understandably scared and suspicious of the prawns, which led to ghettoization. Did white South African motivations during apartheid have this legitimacy? The movie creates sympathy for the oppressed, but it also humanizes and universalizes hate and greed in a way that makes everybody less culpable. Someone on one of those sites I googled compared it to the movie Crash, though not for the reasons I might. I really hope the takeaway message isn't the simplistic "Hey we're all racist, man..." of that piece of garbage.

Anyway, if you're interested in reading more perspectives, some of these people put it better than me...
http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/2009/08/district-9----about-racism-or.html
Post Wed Aug 26, 2009 2:23 pm
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Lants



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 2234
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i liked watching this movie too. i knew nothing about it before i went to see it.
the south african accents made it that much more believable and watchable.
Post Thu Aug 27, 2009 5:21 am
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box johnson



Joined: 25 Nov 2008
Posts: 1123
Location: Denver
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Nice link, Turnpike. All I would add is that several pages back I noted that the story of the prawns was poorly handled.
Post Thu Aug 27, 2009 11:37 am
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