MOVIES.IE'S ONE TO WATCH!
DISTRICT 9 (USA/New Zealand/15A/112mins)
Directed by Neill Blomkamp. Starring Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, Nathalie Boltt, Sylvaine Strike, Eugene Khumbanyiwa.
THE PLOT: A mock documentary, told in flashbacks and interviews, a camera crew follows the plainly doomed, wide-eyed Wikus van de Merwe (Copley), the employee private military contractor Multinational United decides is the best man to go and tell the 1.8million angry aliens who have been housed in District 9 ever since their spaceship parked itself over Johannesburg 20 years ago that it's time to move on. To District 10, many miles away.
Unbeknownst to Wikus, the aliens - who look like Predator with just a dash of Jar-Jar - are just about to put into action a plan they've been cooking up ever since they were forced into their now rundown, crime-ridden camp. With the slum having long ago settled on its own laws - thanks, in no small part, to paralysed, voodoo-loving warlord Obesandjo (Khumbanyiwa) - the fan gets it from all sides as the big day dawns.
THE VERDICT: Partly a metaphor for apartheid in South Africa (and directly inspired by the declaration of District Six in Cape Town a "whites only" area by the government back in 1966, resulting in 60,000 people being forcibly removed and relocated 25 kilometres away), Blomkamp has been at pains to point out that South Africa's troubled history is not the main focus of his film, and that District 9 can stand on its own two feet.
Peter Jackson is on board as producer here, helping South African filmmaker Blomkamp expand on his award-winning 2005 short Alive In Joburg after the collapse of their plans to adapt the video game, Halo, to the big screen. They've ended up with a box-office giant for their troubles. Playing like Man Bites Alien, Blomkamp's humorous mix of social realism and sci-fi fireworks makes for one of the year's most entertaining, and intriguing, films.
(500) DAYS OF SUMMER (USA/15A/95mins)
Directed by Marc Webb. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Geoffrey Arend, Chloe Moretz.
THE PLOT: Love will tear us apart seems to be the theme, as we follow happy loving, thoroughly young, thoroughly hip couple Tom Hansen (Gordon-Levitt) and Summer Finn (Deschanel) through the rise and fall of their relationship. Being a thoroughly modern, thoroughly hip (anti-)romantic comedy though, our pretty young things have kooky tastes (Ringo is the greatest Beatle, Octopus's Garden their greatest song, according to the wacky Summer), dance to the beat of the by-now traditional cinematic mixtape of '90s indie faves, and, whereas the guy must be cluelessly cool (aka The Michael Cera Geek Generation), the girl must be an unknowable, vibrant, manic pixie chick who likes to make papier mache turkeys for Christmas before setting them free in the woods.
It's all very cleverly done, director Marc Webb (making the leap from music videos, of course) and writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (the duo who gave us The Pink Panther 2 earlier this year) hitting the shuffle button on Tom and Summer's 500 days together. Many of the leaps highlight, to solid comic effect, the contrast between the positives and negatives of similar situations, how that certain little something she does goes from being the most wonderful quirk in the world to being a really stupid character defect.
THE VERDICT: Yep, despite what Hollywood has been telling us all these years, the eternal sunshine of love doesn't shine on forever and ever. It shines for about 500 days. If you're lucky. Coming across as an anti-romantic comedy, (500) Days Of Summer sets out to dissect, debunk and possibly even debauch one of Hollywood's most loved, and lucrative, genres. A movie that's been raved about by critics, Gordon-Levitt (who's slowly morphing into Heath Ledger) and Deschanel (who plays to her strengths here, and reveals all her weaknesses) are well cast, and the whole thing is hard to fault. Not sure why I had a mild itch of irritation throughout then.
MOVIES.IE'S ONE TO WATCH!
SLEEP FURIOUSLY (UK/IFI/94mins)
Directed by Gideon Koppel. Starring the residents of the sleepy Welsh village, Trefeurig.
THE PLOT: Cutting between shots of the surrounding landscape and snippets of everyday life in the community (the mobile library arriving, farmers farming, choir practices, kids learning, the village fete in full swing, the director's mum, Pip, visiting her husband's grave) for this year-in-the-life, Koppel paints a beguiling, sweetly engrossing picture. The visual equivalent of a good, wholesome stew on a rainy afternoon. What you end up with are real people, as opposed to characters, with the filmmaker himself stating that he wanted to make a film "evocative" of his old home village rather than "about" it.
THE VERDICT: Playing for just three days at the IFI from Monday Sept 7th, the wondrously sensual documentary film sleep furiously is filmmaker Gideon Koppel's love letter to his childhood home, Trefeurig, deep in the heart of Wales. Think Last Of The Summer Wine, only without all the mild innuendos or the closing race down main street in a bathtub. Or the need for anything resembling a plot.
Music is by Richard James - aka The Aphex Twin - giving it his Penguin Cafe Orchestra best, and the imagery here will stay with you long after you've left the cinema. In fact, you probably won't see a more thoughtful, enchanting and beautifully natural film all year. Unless Michael Bay gives us a director's cut of Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, of course.
RAYMOND CHANDLER AT THE IFI
Kicking off on Saturday Sept 5th with both Howard Hawks' The Big Sleep (1946) and Edmund Dmytryk's Murder, My Sweet (1944), the IFI will be playing host to a season of Raymond Chandler adaptations to mark the 50th anniversary of the iconic crime novelist's death.
The man who lived by the rule of, when in doubt, have someone walk into the room with a gun, Chandler - who only began writing in middle-age - created fourteen short stories and seven completed novels, along with a handful of screenplays. His most famous creation being, of course, LA-based detective Philip Marlowe.
As well as the above - Murder, My Sweet playing today; The Big Sleep today and tomorrow - all films screening will be at 2pm, unless otherwise stated. Continuing the season on Monday will be George Marshall's The Blue Dahlia (1946), followed on the 12th by Paul Bogart's Marlowe (1969), on the 13th by Dick Richard's take on Farewell, My Lovely (1975), Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye (1973) on Sept 20th (at 2.15pm) and Billy Wilder's sublime Double Indemnity (1944) on Sept 23rd, at 6.30pm.
In the middle of the run, on September 16th at 6.30pm, Adrian Wootton (CEO of Film London and a film noir expert) will be presenting Chandleresque: An Illustrated Talk. Full details on www.ifi.ie.