Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Johannesburg Slaughter

My problem with E.T., and I think it would be a better film, are those big Walter Keane moonstone eyes, because you immediately love that little creature. There’s a moment in the film when they’re dissecting the frogs and they do a close-up of the frogs with those alien slit eyes. Now if E.T. had those eyes, then he’s a really grotesque ugly thing and the kid has to learn to love a grotesque ugly thing. It’s easy to love E.T. It should have been difficult to love E.T.

- Terry Gilliam

Neill Blomkamp's District 9 is definitely made in that spirit. It's like riding on a thoroughfare that takes you from Hotel Rwanda to Cronenberg. It is unbelievably brutal, or at least its level of violence and grotesquerie surprised me until I thought about the producer, Peter Jackson, and his earlier films.

The creatures are only half-heartedly anthropomorphized, and the nepotist hero goes from nebbish to fighter-boy without much time for a consistent transition between (though his transition is certainly a bodily one). It is overlong, and far too uncompromising to have grossed as much as it has.

And we should all be thankful to Peter Jackson for introducing such a talented new filmmaker to the world. This is simply the best and most riveting science fiction film in years, so long as you have the stomach for it.

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