Saturday, August 15, 2009

Nog's Lazy Capsule Reviews of District 9, Julie and Julia, and GI Joe!

I wanted to love District 9 as much as the raving fanboys over at AICN but, as a whole, it didn't fully thrill me somehow. I like most of the faux-documentary stuff early on, which sets up a lot of ideas that resonate on a lot of different levels, but once the second half turns into a more straightforward action picture those ideas dissolve a little and what matters more is exploding heads and ass-kicking "prawn" creatures which, admittedly, look amazing for a mere $30 million bucks (I'll take the look of this film any day over Transformers 2 or Terminator 4 or GI Joe). And there's definitely some strong, disturbing political commentary here early on that separates D-9 from the summer's other boneheaded action pictures and makes it well worth a look. I particularly like the scene where our hero, exploited by the "establishment," must slaughter an innocent "prawn." Let's hope Blomkamp keeps his budgets small and doesn't end up helming a future mindless summer franchise based on toys. But that's probably too much to hope for.


Of course, the reason to see Julie and Julia is Streep's performance as Julia Child, and that's plenty reason enough. For me, there was a point about a half hour in when I ceased marvelling at her amazing impersonation and just accepted her fully as Child. Go ahead and hand her the Oscar. Too bad the rest of the movie, involving a contemporary Amy Adams as a new blogger cooking her way through Julia's famous cookbook, is far less compelling (and, from what I've read, Epron-ized into a more palatable romantic-comedy framework than the book it's based on). I suppose the two stories are cleverly integrated, to some extent, but the parallels between the two women don't resonate much. Perhaps a better dual storyline would have been one where we watch one of the "servantless housewives" of the 60's and 70's that Child was writing for finding herself "liberated" by the cookbook. Or, better yet, just a film that followed Child's full career, not just the period up to her first publication. But that would have been too "traditional" for today's Hollywood.


GI Joe has one great chase through the streets of Paris that culminates in the Eiffel Tower getting eaten up by nano-somethings. You've seen it already in clips. Knowing to skip this shit is half the battle. But I always lose.


  1. 1. I saw the trailer for DISTRICT 9 a while ago and immediately and inexplicably vowed to _not_ see it. I can't quite figure it out. . .it is getting a lot of hype. "Entertainment Weekly" can't make mention of this film without creaming its shorts. I'm kind of relieved that you weren't so taken by it.

    2. Meryl Streep is fucking fantastic. I may get to this Ephron flick after all -- just to see her. I could do without whatever seems to be going on with the Amy Adams character.

    3. NanoMITES, Richard. Nanomites. Call me a horny simpleton, but I hardly think seeing Channing Tatum on the bigscreen is a loss. Then again, if one isn't susceptible to his charms (and apparently you are not), then. . .yeah, G.I. JOE is mostly a failure. But it's a wonderfully toyetic failure!

    4. Ready for: The spectacular harvesting of Naaazi scalps, Megan Fox actually acting, and Martin Scorsese's bizarre suspense-chiller. . .

  2. I WANT my scalps!

    Yes, I'll be in line for QT as soon as possible. And Jennifer's Body and Shudder Island as well.

    I'm surprised you're resisting D-9. It's actually very good. It just didn't hook me in the same way as, say, Hurt Locker.

  3. District 9 is great at the beginning, and if it had continued on that trajectory, it might have become what people say it is--a classic of the SF genre. It's still a good movie, and better by far than most summer fare (that I have learned to skip), but as is it fits into the category of wannabe classics like ALIEN NATION (that it is surprisingly like, although nobody's talking about it), THIS ISLAND EARTH, or PHASE IV.

    I definitely see the hand of Jackson, hearkening back to his early days of film-making (BAD TASTE and DEAD ALIVE), although whether he put the material in or just fostered Blomk's tendencies, I don't know.

  4. Yeah, I preferred the first half to the second, no doubt, but I do think that folks are in a rush to hail this thing as a classic, perhaps just because everything else has been so damn disappointing lately.

    I've read a few folks (probably on AICN) noting the Alien Nation similarities.

    QT's "Basterds," of course, will be a new classic! Surely we can all agree there, sight unseen!

  5. I finally saw JULIE and JULIA -- a little too *cutesy* for me, but I was amused and engaged for 2 hours and 15 minutes, so. And of course Meryl was marvelous. Amy Adams was fine, but her character was kind of dumb. A lot dumb. I thought nobody would attend a matinee on a Tuesday this late in the film's run, but I was wrong. Well. I wasn't really wrong, because though the crowd was fairly small, we were all packed into this little auditorium reserved for films that are on their way out. So. And they were all stupid women who ROARED at absolutely every little *cutesy* disaster or triumph. I even heard one woman in front of me slapping her knee frequently from all the screen excitement -- what with the lobster-creatures attacking the city folk and all. For some reason these people had a poster for Roger Corman's ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS up on their wall. I actually have a smaller version of this poster. But I hardly think these cats are cool enough to pull off Corman movie art. _I_ am. But not them.