Thursday, 10 September 2009

Me on movies

Just realised my driver's licence expires in a few weeks time. Bah! Anyone know an easy way to get it renewed that doesn't involve paying bribes or standing in queues for six years?

I feel like watching movies today. Seeing I have to be at the office instead, I'll just blog about them...

Saw District 9 last night. I must disagree with Ches, who hated the movie (although he does make some valid points). Maybe it was because I wasn't expecting much, but I thought it was pretty damn good. Generally, when people rave about a movie I end up hating it and there was quite a bit of hype around this flick so I figured it would disappoint. But it didn't.

I think it's a great movie. But that doesn't mean I enjoyed it. Let me clarify... there are movies that you can admit are totally brilliant without finding great pleasure in watching them. The same goes for books. Like JM Coetzee's Disgrace. I don't deny it was clever, well-written and worth studying for high school English. Doesn't mean I liked it though.

District 9 was, IMHO, well filmed with good actors, nice fast-moving action scenes and effective special effects. Yes, there were a few cliches and some bits that could easily have been left out (the last sequence seemed a bit protracted to me), but overall, it was well directed and edited. What surprised me though, was how much I was moved by the film.

I left the Il Grande cinema in a sober, pensive mood. I knew District 9 would touch on issues of xenophobia, but it really, really got to me. It was so gritty and dirty and South African and... real. It wasn't an idyllic, romanticised, pretty picture. I liked that about it.

The only thing I truly didn't like (aside from the fact that the main character only seems to know one expletive, which he uses about six times in every sentence) is the portrayal of Nigerians in the movie - they are shown as being completely devoid of human empathy and moral standards. They have no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

If I were Nigerian, that would piss me off no end.

But all in all, a good film in my opinion. What are your thoughts?

TSC and I also watched Coraline on DVD the other day. Let me start by saying that I am absolutely fascinated by stop-motion animation. I think my dream job would be to build sets and props for a film like this. The puppets, sets and art direction are amazing!

Ok, maybe the storyline was a little... odd, but even if I didn't find the plot particularly gripping, I was impressed by the colours, characters and even texture of the film (does that make sense?).

I know this movie was released in 3D, but I'm glad we saw it on DVD so we had access to the special features showing the making of the film. Like Transformers or Nightmare Before Christmas, this is a movie I believe you can appreciate more once you know what the production entails.

Basically, there are 24 frames per second of film. In stop-motion, you have to film each frame one at a time, readjusting the puppet and set so that when you string all the frames together and speed them up, it flows like a normal movie. It can take an animator days or even weeks to film a few seconds.

It is enormously labour-intensive to shoot stop-motion and Coraline was no exception, with around 450 people working on almost 150 sets with characters no taller than a nice new pencil. The clothes are hand-stitched, the fires are hand-drawn into scenes after filming and the puppets have over 200 000 facial expressions that need to be hand-created by the animators and designers. The work is phenomenal!

If you want a feel-good, easy-to-watch animated story with a nice storyline, rent out Finding Nemo. If you want to watch a beautifully-designed stop-motion work of art, plus all the in-depth features, Coraline is worth a look. and if you do watch it / have seen it, please let me know what you thought.


Ches said...

I can't eat prawns anymore...

...not even battered in peri peri sauce! :)

Damaria Senne said...

I haven't watched district 9 yet, but your review makes me want to watch it. Glad I'm not Nigerian:-)

po said...

I enjoyed Coraline, I love that old style of animation. I am going to see District 9 on Friday. It seems like the kind of movie I will hate, but I have heard nothing but good things so we shall see!

Spear said...

Seen neither. Seriously want to see D-09. I am a bit of a science fiction nut.

Stop-motion animation indeed fascinating - love Wallace & Grommit - but won't be able to do it. To impatient. I will end up with 6 frames per second and a very jerky picture.

boldly benny said...

The movie blew my mind I couldn't talk about it as I was so conflicted. I thought it was good, but it left me unsettled, the stereotypes worried and the bloodiness revolted me. I still have a bit of a stew of throughts and can't really make sense of it all!
It was quite something!

Miss T said...

Havent seen D9 yet. Cant wait tho. I saw Coraline in 3D and i loved the picture too but isn't the story waaaay too scary for little kids?

Slyde said...

i saw district 9 over the weekend. i thought it was decent, but it really didnt do it for me.

i took my son to see coraline when it was in the theatre. it was a bit too much for him. we had to leave halfway through because he was getting scared. on the way out, he decided to go back in and finish it.

the 3d was outstanding.

Anonymous said...

OH MY WORD Tamara you don't know how long I've been looking for the name of this specific sop animation film- I saw BY CHANCE the making of on someone's blog and I thought it was stunning and when I went to go find it again o find the name... the person had deleted it.

I fall in love with Caroline from the movie and have been DYING to find it. Oh my word- I TOTALLY get what you're talking about in terms of the texture and art direction- it's STUNNING!!!!!!!

OH MY WORD I am so SO shocked.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I meant I fall in love with Caroline from the blog...

oops :P

Steve Hayes said...

For your driving licence, try Postnet.

District 9 - yes, I thought it was good, and I liked it. If it made Nigerians look bad, it made South Africans look even worse. I've commented more fully on my blog here District 9 — science fiction as social satire: Khanya.

As satire of a film genre, I found it less slapstick and over the top in violence than Naked gun, though of course that was a different genre. I rather liked the way it satirised both xenophobia and foreigners.

Anonymous said...

I haven't watched these movies, but I did read Coraline. And I really enjoyed the book. :)

We're going to see D9 tomorrow!

Helen said...

Drivers license is easy! It took me all of 15 minutes and then you wait for 4-6 weeks and go pick it up. You pay extra and they give you a temporary one on the spot as well. Just go right before closing time (i.e. about 2:45) and they work really quickly! you need about R300, 4 ID photos and a photocopy of youor ID.

Haven't seen District 9 yet, but I really want to!

angel said...

I love stop-motion too, and I haven't seen Coraline yet. I also still want to see District 9...
And I do understand your point about something being good but not enjoying it. I felt that way about "Watchmen".

Tamara said...

Ches: Hmmm... didn't think of that.

Damaria: If you see it, please let me know what you think!

Po: I can't wait to hear your thoughts.

Spear: Wallace and Gromit are awesome!

Paula: Hehehe... you are welcome. I am always glad to generate such an impressive response in a reader ;-)

Steve: I shall go and read your thoughts on D9.

Sleepyjane: I'd be interested to see what the book is like compared to the movie. They added a new character in the film, which may have changed things quite a bit.

Helen: Thanks for the tip!

Angel: Yay - you get me! I can't make myself see Watchmen.