Monday, August 17, 2009

Birthday Party and 'District 9'

This was a very large weekend... or it feels large, even if not every day was exactly packed. I mean, Friday was pretty busy, I think, preparing for the party and everything, and Saturday was the party itself, Rebecca's 40 Years and 40 Days party, the belated birthday party. It was a great time, good to see our friends and be social once again. I'm amazed to think that ten years ago, there were parties all the time, social outings, club nights, etc., and now something only occurs once in a great while (that I hear about). Aging is something that happens to you, as well as something you undergo. The external world imposes aging upon you as much as your own body declines toward it. That's what I find.

Sunday was the day of relaxation. Very little cleaning, much video game playing, much snacking. At one point I broke out in a cold sweat and started to tremble, salivating like I was about to vomit, and I had to nap for a few hours. I still don't know what that was about--it had some of the symptoms of flu and some of food poisoning, but didn't exactly match either.

In the evening I was well enough to see District 9, the big-dumb summer blockbuster that the critics are calling "smart" but can't say why. It happens in South Africa but doesn't address any of South Africa's issues. The white-man corporation standing in as Bad Guy is trite; denoting "the Nigerians" as the other Bad Guy is surprisingly racist in this theme and this location. It's like the film is suggesting, "Blacks and whites are learning to live together in peace, but you just can't do anything about those Nigerians. You know how they are."

What else isn't original? The predominant message of Man's Inhumanity to Man. Yes, even with a common focus of resentment, the aliens, the humans are still so inhuman to each other. This is beaten into our heads at every turn, and there's no sign of redemption. Of course, they're also inhuman to the aliens on several levels. Humans are just bastards all the way around. They don't work with the aliens as well as they did in AlienNation, which was overstuffed with safe racial analogies, and there is no bridge between cultures like in Enemy Mine. Nope, at the end, humanity can only bite its lip and hope it doesn't receive its comeuppance from without and within.

But on a technical level, the graphics are excellent, the rendering is excellent. It's a visual treat--you just have to remember to turn off your cell phone and your mind at the beginning of the movie. Don't ask, "How did the documentary crew get inside the ship to film their technicians breaking in from the other side?" Don't wonder at the "Day 47", &c., captioning when there are no film crews around. There's a clear transition when the documentary ceases being a documentary and only serves as an accent, a spice, to the film's exposition.

All these publications and critics saying that District 9 actually has a message... they're wrong. There is no message. Ask them what this message is and they can't say. It's not a racial analogy, though it wears the trappings of racism, and then trips over its own feet. It's interesting to show the aliens as an oppressed refugee class, but that's the extent of the novelty. It is disjointed, self-contradictory, sensationalist and shallow, so appreciate it for that.

And then it turned out I wasn't feeling better at all: getting up and walking around betrayed my stomach for the ticking time-bomb it had become, though it never exploded. We got home in time for me to have a seat and dampen the risk while uploading old photos to Facebook and deleting other photos out of my inventory.

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