Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

District 9

From South Africa, hitherto unknown as a production center for really cool movies, came this grimy, grand scare-fi epic. Extraterrestrials — great, icky insect creatures, with wriggling worms where their noses might be — arrive in Johannesburg and are soon treated like chattel by South African whites, who have a long history as enslavers. Viewing the visitors as illegal aliens, they enforce a transgalactic apartheid by herding the creatures into a ratty part of Joburg called District 9. Some genre filmmakers know how to make a movie but not why. Writer-director Neill Blomkamp, just 29 when his first feature became a surprise summer hit, demonstrated a brain as well as an action-director's eye. Here was a mockumentary thriller that, besides being a hell of a lot of fun, said things you hadn't considered and showed stuff you hadn't seen. In this monster movie, the monster is us.