District 9

Honestly, I had intended last night’s novella to be a brisk lead-in to one of Avaragado’s celebrated film reviews. I, uh, wandered a bit. Approximately 1500 words of bit. Once I considered that homework and spent hours in front of 1980s TV pretending to write essays that long. Now I do it for fun. Good, wholesome, cathartic fun.

The film I’d intended to review was District 9. On the surface a film about aliens and how we’d deal with them if they turned up unannounced, it’s actually about prejudice: hence the connection with my previous blog. The aliens arrive (in 1982) helpless and easily subjugated, unusually for the science fiction genre, and by 2010 when we pick up the story they’re kept in townships (hence the film’s title) just outside Johannesburg in South Africa. You don’t have to dig deep to spot the analogy; it was filmed in real townships.

It’s a curious film. The first part is presented as a documentary, watching bureaucrat Wikus as he leads his team on a project to relocate the aliens – nicknamed “prawns”. When things go wrong we switch to an objective camera perspective for the fun and games that follow. It’s a mix of genres: part buddy movie in places, often gruesome and gory, but never more than a beat away from comedy or pathos. Lovely swearing too.

Although the analogy to South Africa’s own recent past is in your face for the entire film, it’s not laid on with a trowel. I’m glad, as I hate trowel-based facial analogy delivery.

The lead character Wikus is played by Sharlto Copley, which sounds like an anagram. His lack of fame – this is his first leading role – ensures the documentary sequences have an authentic feel, and for greater realism he improvised much of the dialogue in some scenes. Some people apparently dislike his comedy South African accent, which is a shame as it’s his own. I suspect we’ll see him again though I hope not as Murdoch in The A-Team as rumoured.

A high quirk factor all round. But please, no sequel: not needed.

Avaragado’s rating: unidentifiable meaty chunks

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