District 9 is a movie that unexpectedly brings together some of the best features of several movie genres. The premise of the movie is that 20+ years ago an alien spacecraft came to rest just above Johannesburg, South Africa. “It hovers above the city for three months without any contact; eventually humans take the initiative and cut into the ship. They discover a large group of aliens who are malnourished and sick.” Eventually these aliens, nicknamed “prawns” by the local human population, are forced to reside in a government controlled area-cum-slum named District 9. Multi-National United, a private company, takes control of the operation when it is decided to move the prawns to a new area, named District 10, 240 Km from Johannesburg.
The film is shot in a documentary style employing several camera techniques including: helicopter views, security cameras, first-person-shooter, and, of course, extensive shoulder mounted camera work. The image movement is kept well under control through most scenes, so there is no Blair Witch type of motion sickness. The only lock-off/tripod shots are those of interviews shown at the beginning and ending of the movie.
Like vintage sci-fi films, the audience forms an emotional connection with the monster, or aliens in this case. Sharlto Copley, who played the protagonist – Wikus Van De Merwe, actually adlibbed all his lines, a feat that may not have been done since Robert Altman’s 1970 movie, MASH (it won an Oscar for Best Writing – the script was barely used), which probably added to the uneasiness and awkward fluidity of Copley’s performance, and helped sell the documentary feel of the film. The CG of the aliens was done very nicely, but the alien mechanized battle suit reminded me too much of the ED-209 from Robocop.
Overall, I think the movie was very well done. The majority of the actors are either unknown, or have worked mostly in television instead of film. The camera positioning and technique helped to define the movie as a sci-fi mockumentary, and the storyline is laid out better than most action films. I can’t wait to get the DVD release and watch the special features.
Disney: The Music Behind the Magic 1928-Today, an exhibit held at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida, “explores the integral role that music has played in every facet of Disney’s success, from animation and film to TV, radio and Broadway, as well as the record label’s key songs, composers and performers, and their impact on popular music and culture.”
The exhibit starts with the earliest musical works from Disney including the “birth” of Mickey Mouse with his debut in Steamboat Willie on November 18, 1928 and covers the 80 years since then. Through the exhibit you will see (as described by the Experience Music Project in Seattle, Washington):
More than 65 rare artifacts, including animation storyboards, musical charts, rare recordings, sound effects equipment, Mickey Mouse Club outfits, and costumes from theatrical productions such as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.
Five interpretive films, all of which are being made specifically for the exhibition and feature Disney artists and experts with excerpts of Disney films to illustrate key points:
- The first film explores Disney’s innovative musical storytelling in its early animations, from Steamboat Willie to Bambi.
- The second film examines the critical role of music in Disney’s animation renaissance in the late 1980s, starting with The Little Mermaid; it features filmed interviews with composers Alan Menken and Phil Collins, film critic Leonard Maltin, and other Disney historians.
- The third film looks at the music and making of Mary Poppins, the pinnacle of Disney’s live-action musicals. It includes interviews with the film’s composer, Richard Sherman, as well as other Disney artists and experts.
- The fourth film considers Disney’s musical legacy, exploring its influence and impact on popular music and culture
- The fifth film is a 15-20-minute overview of Disney music shown in our theater and introducing visitors to the exhibit themes and narrative.
Four exciting interactives designed to create hands-on experience for visitors of all ages:
- Name-That-Disney-Tune is a game show in which four contestants or teams test their knowledge of Disney melodies, lyrics, composers and performers.
- Sound Effects Challenge has four visitors work as a team and use Foley equipment to create and record the sound effects for one or two Disney cartoons, then watch the results to judge their future as sound effects experts.
- Remix Disney Hits is a chance for visitors to remix hit songs by Walt Disney Records artists and then compare their mix to the original release.
Wonder Mine did a great job in designing this traveling exhibit. It was laid out nicely, created some good background visuals for the experience, and was very informative – Did you know that in 1937 doctors warned parents that watching the color cartoon Snow White would damage their kids eyes permanently? If you want to experience this exhibit, hurry, it closes at the Norton on September 6th.
Inglourious Basterds has to be one of Quentin Tarantino’s best films. Contrary to Tarantino’s trademark style this movie runs chronologically, allowing for less concentration on the part of the viewer. Overall it seems that he has matured in his film making and brought together a beautiful piece of cinema. Not to say I haven’t enjoyed most of his films, Kill Bill aside, but this one was much stronger and did not need the time travel that was necessary in his past films to show every conceivable perspective through each character’s eyes.
The true star of the movie was not the well-known cast members like Brad Pitt, Mike Myers – who has a guest appearance, or BJ Novak – of The Office fame, but rather Colonel Hans Landa played by Christoph Waltz. Waltz, who currently lives in London and is fluent in German, English and French, displayed a fantastic performance. In many scenes he had a John Malkovich like delivery, but his range throughout the movie is very impressive.
Over the course of the movie Tarantino’s twisted sense of humor is shown quite often in the fashion we have come to expect from his work on films like Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. He also pays homage to past movies like his insertion of a brief clip from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1936 movie Sabotage, among other works.
The movie was well written, shot, edited, and the cast was perfectly chosen. I believe it is the strongest film Tarantino has put out to date – don’t just take my word for it, German film critics are even praising it. If you have the chance to see it, do.
Amidst the debate of national healthcare reform, one television commercial really stands out. Regardless of your opinions on this controversial topic, this commercial has the perfect metaphor for AARP’s message; an ambulance running lights and sirens, getting cut-off at every turn – brilliant. I didn’t even listen to the words the first few times I saw the commercial, I watched the imagery and instantly got it. Maybe I connect with the spot because of my brief stint as a state certified Emergency Medical Technician and 8 years as a part-time health and safety educator, or maybe the symbolism is just that strong. Either way I though it was well done.
In the past few days this commercial has stirred more controversy than most advertisements ever will, here’s some comments:
From AARP.org on August 17th & 18th:
“My first impression was laughter. I thought all of those cars were rich ambulance-chasing trial lawyers fighting to get a new client.”
“The AARP commercial looks pretty good – it takes on the myths and facts. Take a look.
I love the comments about the use of American cars in the commercial (some people reallllllly have too much time on their hands to look for conspiracy theories. They’re probably disappointed that black helicopters aren’t featured as well.)”
“WE WERE MASSIVELY OFFENDED by the commercial we saw tonight showing an ambulance being cut off by expensive cars at every turn. SHAME ON AARP for thinking that we are so gullible as to be influenced by such obvious tripe.”
I didn’t know the Dodge Caliber, the car most visible throughout the commercial, was considered an “expensive car”, but okay.
From YouTube on August 17th:
“This video is awsome it really shows how good the government has got at sponsoring propaganda!! 2 thumbs up!!”
“I hope AARP paid enough to make this commercial because I definitely think less of them after having seen it.”
Pretty strong opinions for a commercial sponsored by a non-governmental organization (and interest group). Whatever your feelings about the healthcare reform bill are, you have to admit that this is a strong commercial with unmistakable symbolism – people getting in the way of healthcare.