Cinecast Episode 135 – I Want a Korean Taco

Episode 135:
Almost a full hour on Neil Blomkamp’s District Nine **SPOILERS ABOUND** We do not completely disagree about the overall film but we certainly disagree about the ins and outs and the what-have-yous of various aspects on the film. It certainly gets rather spirited as Gamble (of High and Low Brow podcast) defends the film with what could be described as angry passion. Then it is on to lesser talked about films as of recent including The Time Traveler’s Wife, Taking Woodstock, Ponyo, a bit of a tease with Inglourious Basterds, and all the goods from Toronto After Dark 2009. DVD picks are at the end. Thanks for checking out the show.

Listen. Enjoy. (and apologies about some of the strange bumps on the audio, we are working on the problem!)

Click the Audio Icon below to listen in:


show content


show content

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://www.rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_09/episode_135.mp3

COVERED IN TODAY’S SHOW:
District 9 (Kurt and Andrew’s review)
Inglourious Basterds (Kurt’s review)
Time Traveler’s Wife (Andrew’s review)
Taking Woodstock
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard
Ponyo

Toronto After Dark Film Festival
Black Dynamite (Kurt’s review)
Black (Kurt’s review)
The Cold (Dark) Hour
Franklyn

DVD picks:
Kurt: Surveillance (Andrew’s review)
Andrew: Surveillance (Andrew’s review)
Matt: The Last Starfighter (25th Anniversary)
BLU RAY: Playtime

.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Jay C.
Guest

"Now I realize that one of my favorite films of last year was “Doomsday” and all that movie is is an homage or tip of that or even a rip-off (if you wanna call it that) of other films. But “Doomsday” wears that like a badge of honor on its sleeve. Yet, the positive reviews of “D9″ (opposite of what even Blomkamp is saying) are claiming how refreshing the film is. "

I don't understand how you can claim that Doomsday wears its influences proudly on its sleeve and not say the same for District 9. Based on this quote, it sounds to me like you are letting other people's opinions dictate your feelings on this film. Just look at the context of both of your points; you are plotting Doomsday THE FILM against District 9 THE REVIEWS.

Yes, I think there is probably quite a bit of over-hype surrounding District 9, but since when did film lovers start tempering their own enjoyment — or disregarding it — based on the opinions of other bloggers? I'm certainly not afraid to give District 9 a 4 out of 4 at the risk of being grouped in with the rest of the 'fanboys'. I'm also not claiming that this particular 4 out of 4 is on par with jacques Tati's Play Time, Werner Herzog's Aguirre The Wrath of God or even Children of Men. District 9, like Drag Me to Hell, is simply the most fun I've had at a summer blockbuster this year. The combination of all of its elements hit my sweet spots.

It's cool that you didn't like it as much. There's not really much to debate there. But I think using some intangible comparison to Doomsday's upfront homages is a little weak and unfair (especially considering D-9 does the same, whether or not its fans admit it). I also think comparing it to films like Gattaca, Solaris and Moon is a little off. Starship Troopers perhaps, but if you want any and all films with a sci fi element to meet these hard sci fi standards, it's likely people will start questioning your love for something like Star Wars Episode 3.

And don't think that this is just another example of the response you get when criticizing everyone's favourite film of the year. It has less to do with the merits of District 9 rather than the idea of letting the enthusiasm of others guide your own judgments. Seems to me like this is a result of blogging. Once everyone starts expressing their opinions online, they create some sort of mythology surrounding their movie watching habits and their personal taste. This is exactly why I like Ebert. You never know where he'll land on a film by film basis because he seems to go in to each with an open mind and judge it on its merits within the context of its genre. Otherwise, there would be no point to a rating system at all as comedies and action films would rarely if never hit above a three. (something that I've noticed around these parts actually, unless the genre film is Asian)

Not entirely sure where I'm going with this, but I'm more interested in hearing the direct criticisms of District 9 over the criticisms of its fans/reviewers. Especially if said criticisms start affecting your own views of the film. Just my two cents.

Henrik
Guest

"if you want any and all films with a sci fi element to meet these hard sci fi standards, it’s likely people will start questioning your love for something like Star Wars Episode 3."

Or his love of Star Wars episode 6, reportedly "easily one of the best movies of all time".

"there would be no point to a rating system at all as comedies and action films would rarely if never hit above a three. (something that I’ve noticed around these parts actually, unless the genre film is Asian)"

Spot on.

There are two ways of thinking about a rating system. One is the percentage-style, where your rating is representative of the exact value of what you're rating. That a 4/5 is 80% good. There is also, the more useful, category-style, where you just put each film into a different category based on its own merits. 4/5 would then be a category, which may or may not be defined, but easily understandable. And the judgment is not absolute in this case. This is the only way, in my opinion, a rating system could be justified, I can't stand people claiming to spot classics or clunkers on their day of release, who say that 5/5 equals masterpiece.

Kurt
Guest

I generally hate the star rating system, a review is the text not the numerical grade which is dodgey at best. But it was uniquely useful for D9, because I did really like the film and the could spend my review on the one facet of why it was not completely "To Infinity And Beyond" to me. But yea, awesome blockbuster, and I'd love to see more.

If it looks like around here Asian films always get a pass, it is because we only talk about the ones that we love. There are so many of them that I see and don't bother to say much about, but when one comes along that that is awesome I talk about it. But around here we tend to talk about many of the films that come out so there is more talk about the ones we like and do not like. It may make it look unbalanced, but really it is not.

Matt Gamble
Guest

In this show, Matt keeps talking about how “this [or that] has never been done before in the history of sci-fi.” With time to reflect, I wish I’d called him out on that.

Call me out on what? That I can articulate what I find unique and original in the film while you rely on others to convince you on your "opinion"? When did you change your name to Reed Farrington?

Bring it, bitch tits.

But yea, awesome blockbuster, and I’d love to see more.

Its too bad we didn't record some of our discussions where we talked (yes we actually talk rationally and at normal levels off mic) about how you went into this expecting a more thoughtful hard sci-fi film and I went in expecting an action film. I do think those expectations probably made you a bit more critical of the film while I just sat back and reveled in it. I know Anna went in expecting an action film as well, which she generally hates, and she was stunned that she not only enjoyed the movie, but loved the hell out of it. I think Jay hits it on the head when he says this is more akin to a Drag Me to Hell, and since Blomkamp is an unknown quantity compared to Raimi, it really lent to people having wildly divergent expectations of the film.

Jay C.
Guest

I can understand covering your bases with the Doomsday thing. I personally hadn't thought of it but I'm sure someone else may have called you on it. Either way, I really don't think that if you love Doomsday you have to love District 9. There are many elements that have to come together in a film for it to make an impression on someone.

I was simply responding to this idea that District 9 can be accused of not wearing its homages on its sleeve simply because the fans haven't acknowledged it. It's guilty by association. Even if that's not what you're getting at, it's still an interesting point because I do think it happens all of the time. I'm sure I've done it in the past.

I think my main issue is the comparisons to films like Gattaca, Soloaris and 2001. You recently reviewed Die Hard in your narcissism post, giving it a 5/5. I totally agree with that rating. But based on you D-9 comments and comparisons, it would only seem fair to compare Die Hard with films like Michael Mann's Heat, Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, The French Connection, Apocalypse Now… At that point, with those comparisons, Die Hard would fall flat pretty quickly based on the fact that it doesn't have the ideas that the previously mentioned films contain. This is why I think judging one film that contains sci fi elements but is overwhelmingly action oriented against slow burning, thought provoking hard sci-fi movies like Moon and 2001 is a little unfair.

But whatever, rating stuff and reviewing stuff online is tough and it's practically impossible to remain consistent.

"I think you nailed it though. It just comes down to enjoyment in the theater. With Drag Me to Hell, I had a friggin blast."

Yes, which proves my point! You guys all loved it yet still couldn't give it a 5 out of 5. Is this score only reserved for Wong Kar Wai films? ;P

P.S. Across the Universe is like the Simpsons take on a Planet of the Apes musical. Stop listening to it.

Henrik
Guest

Eh? It doesn't work if you only watch half of the trailers, that's much more disturbing to the experience than watching all of them.

Jay C.
Guest

Are you saying V didn't have it's fair share of mindless shoot 'em up action sequences? I would rewatch it. If you stretched District 9 out to four hours, I'd say the action to ideas ratio would be pretty much even between the two.

Jay C.
Guest

"Is the second one more like “Transformers” or “Iron Man” meets “V”? I shall go watch now and find out."

It seems to me like you simply hated Transformers and Iron Man so much — or at least the fanboy response to it — that you're still attempting to take backhanded pot shots at them using any films that contain action or robotics as a launching point. I don't think the inclusion of action should automatically equate a film with something like Transformers.

Kurt
Guest

As I said above, District 9 would benefit largely by being a 5-12hour miniseries. Lots more time to spend in a fascinatingly conceived world.

Jay C.
Guest

Let me clarify; the inclusion of action and robotics should not automatically equate the QUALITY of a film to the quality of Transformers. As in, 'GIANT FUCKING ROBOTS!' is neither an automatic COOL thing or an automatic BAD thing. It's all in the details, the surroundings and how it's handled on screen.

There are definitely things to compare between Transformers and D-9, but I don't think using the words 'Transformers' and 'Iron Man' as derogatory terms for 'action oriented' is fair. In fact, I think it's racist. Did you not learn anything from the redemption of Wikus?????

For me, action doesn't equal dumb. DUMB ACTION equals dumb.

Matt Gamble
Guest

I think that it’s funny that my rant about not wanting to watch a trailer for this movie probably negatively affected my enjoyment of the movie. Had I seen that second trailer (which I still have not seen), maybe I would’ve known it was an action movie.

I wish we had gone into this more on the Cinecast. Going off of teasers nowadays is just setting yourself up for failure IMO. Most teasers don't even use footage from the actual film s they are meant to just get people perked up at the idea that a movie is coming out, not actually give any details on what kind of movie it is.

Anyone remember the Transformers teaser? The one with a probe on Mars that gets crushed. That had nothing to do with the actual film, but it did build excitement. A more extreme and recent example would be the A Serious Man teaser. Is Kurt going to be upset if the film doesn't have a soundtrack composed of sounds from the movie? It seems like an unrealistic expectation to assume that the film will be anything like a teaser.

I'm willing to bet if Andrew watches D9 again in the theatre he enjoys it a heck of a lot more then his initial viewing, primarily because he'll know what he is getting into beforehand and won't have expectations of the film being a deep philosophical piece when it never had those aspirations to begin with. I doubt Kurt will because he's a stubborn ass.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Well I'm trying to talk James into watching it and I know Anna wants to watch it again. I'm not sure how many of the rest of our friends still haven't seen it but we might be able to get a group together to go watch it next weekend.

Rusty James
Guest

@ A character freezes in the middle of a firefight because he sees something that is jarring.

If there's a moment in the film I hate it's that one. Just limp cliche, I was completely out of the film at that point.

Rusty James
Guest

Looking back at Alive in Joberg it had me expecting COPS… in the Third World… with Aliens!

I still want to see that movie.

Rusty James
Guest

@ A more extreme and recent example would be the A Serious Man teaser. Is Kurt going to be upset if the film doesn’t have a soundtrack composed of sounds from the movie?

But don't you think it's disappointing if the trailer for the movie has more ingenuity and surprise and innovation than the movie. Sometimes it feels like the trailer is the best cut of the movie.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

@RUSTY, "Looking back at Alive in Joberg it had me expecting COPS… in the Third World… with Aliens! I still want to see that movie."

Yes! YES! I totally agree Rusty,

—–>HBO, start listing.<——–

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

" A more extreme and recent example would be the A Serious Man teaser. Is Kurt going to be upset if the film doesn’t have a soundtrack composed of sounds from the movie? It seems like an unrealistic expectation to assume that the film will be anything like a teaser."

These sorts of black-and-white cheap shots is what makes be a far better person than Gamble, who, we all know, is a bit of a pig-fucker. I've got photos.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

@Jay C. "Did you not learn anything from the redemption of Wikus?????"

The redemption of Wikus in District 9 is satirical rim-shot of the film. Wikus only gets redeemed by reaping everything sowed by his indifference to whom he works for and where. Even during his 'trial by fire' he constantly takes the cowardly easy way out. He isn't redeemd so much as squashed.

Question for y'all is the 'paper-flower' origami (a nod to Bladerunner perhaps) at the end because Wikus is now a 'group-hug hippie type, or because he has become a simpleton alien drone-class with a lingering scrap of humanity?) Either way I'm not sure Wikus is capable of being an overtly good person under his convenient-priveldged circumstances, and this is as I said is good satirical comment on The First World and those in bureaucratic power over other countries.

See also: Greg Kinnear in FAST FOOD NATION, who not transforming into an alien or being hunted down fugitive-style simply, quietly goes back to being a suit, paying the mortgage, knowing what he knows and powerless to stop it.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

2nd Thought of the Day: Is District 9 actually kind of a casually racist movie for (essentially) eliminating the blacks out of the narrative, except for the crime-boss drug dealers?

I know the prawns are supposed to be a stand in for the black population, but it is still Africa and most of the folks are black, but almost all of the people in this movie are white.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

"I actually think that the movie would’ve been more interesting if we had gotten to actually watch a relocation in process. I would like to see how the aliens handle the concentration camp (sort of an alien version of Andersonville or The Pianist). I would’ve liked to have seen more from the humans and their thoughts on the whole thing."

Yes. again going back to the I didn't want a blockbuster, and I'm kinda bored with the action in D9.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

…Is it so much to ask that something as rich and interesting as Johannesburg of D9 get the full "THE WIRE" top-to-bottom socio-political ecosystem? That is what I'm hungry for.

Jay C.
Guest

"@Jay C. “Did you not learn anything from the redemption of Wikus?????”

The redemption of Wikus in District 9 is satirical rim-shot of the film."

I was just joking with that line. Personally, I think Wikus' redemption comes out of desperation. If his arm could've been fixed in three days, he would still be an asshole.

"…Is it so much to ask that something as rich and interesting as Johannesburg of D9 get the full “THE WIRE” top-to-bottom socio-political ecosystem? That is what I’m hungry for."

I wonder how many people would complain about the decision to include a sci fi twist on something like this rather than simply doing a straight take on the apartheid.

Rusty James
Guest

Andrew, about your 5 star criteria. I would ask you; are the films that affect you deepest really the ones without flaw?

My favorite film last year was Synedoche, NY and that film's a mess. Thin Red Line is one of my favorite war movies but I sometimes think the poetry is a little cheesy. Miami Vice is a film I love for its flaws.

I think there's a lot more to being great than just the absense of flaws.

Rusty James
Guest

Oh yeah, The Wrestler. A film that I think is very flawed but Mickey Rourke redeems.

Rusty James
Guest

Y'know what Andrew. Skip the movie and just read the book.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

You can get away with a lot more frank conversation (look at the suicide bomber threads in Battlestar Galactica) with Sci-fi, I prefer Sci-fi as a way of commenting on contemporary society, actually.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

@Rusty, Great films are rarely perfect films. I totally agree with your statement:

"My favorite film last year was Synedoche, NY and that film’s a mess. Thin Red Line is one of my favorite war movies but I sometimes think the poetry is a little cheesy. Miami Vice is a film I love for its flaws."

Those are good examples too (although i don't see the flaws in Miami Vice, it is awesomely perfect).

I think District 9 is close to a great film for me. But not quite there. That last little bit is, again, more what I wanted out of the film and less about what I actually got. Gamble, as per usual, cries foul at this.

Rusty James
Guest

Yes but what I'm saying is that my favorites the ones with out flaw necessarily.

My point was expanded upon in all the sentences you skipped over.

Rusty James
Guest

Yes but what I’m saying is that my favorite [movies are not] the ones with out flaw necessarily.

Rusty James
Guest

@ To someone else they may be shit and that’s fine. I was the one giving them 5 stars. It’s my opinion, not theirs.

are you responding to me? I don't see the relevence. I'm not saying you can't have an opinion.

I'll rephrase it as a question: Are the films that affect you the deepest the ones that have the fewest flaws?

I would say no.

Rusty James
Guest

I just realized my original post already phrased by point as a question… are andrew and matt gamble the same person?

Henrik
Guest

"When you analyze, you are ruining your favorite toys" – Umberto Eco.

Rusty James
Guest

@ Just being absent of flaws does not a 5-star film make

but can your favorite films have flaws? Synedoche, NY is an example of a flawed film that I love.

@ I’m not even sure 4,3,2 is flawless. But it punched me in the gut so hard so many times and gave me SO MUCH to think about that it becomes an instant favorite of mine.

you wrote this after I raised the issue. Instead of getting defensive you could've just said "yes, 4321 is a flawed film I love"

I never set out to pick on you. You always manuever yourself into some corner where I don't have any choice.

Rusty James
Guest

@ So the films that affect me most are the films that affect me most. A few flaws isn’t going to change that. It won’t change my 5 star rating a of a film.

so in other words, you agree with me.

Matt Gamble
Guest

That last little bit is, again, more what I wanted out of the film and less about what I actually got. Gamble, as per usual, cries foul at this.

Of course I do. You're not reviewing the film, you're comparing it to a mythical creation that exists only in your mind.

I can't wait until you hear Kermode's trashing of Inglourious Basterds for the same reasons. Maybe then you'll see how ridiculous it is.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Just because it is fun to needle Kurt and Andrew.

District 9: Oscar Contender?

For the great Anne Thompson blog.

Goon
Guest

You know…

I can't stand Mark Kermode, and so much of it is his obnoxious tone of voice, as if he's always about to fire someone or is one of 2 shithead talking heads on a political pundit show, just talking in a way to make sure if he's interrupted that he's louder than the other person. So much like Hitchens – unless I know in advance I'm going to agree with either of them in a video and have some net entertainment, I won't subject myself to either of their voices.