Film Review: Elysium

Film Review: Elysium

Elysium opens in wide release today August 9th.

Sometimes film fans are our own worst enemy. We find something that we really like and latch onto it. Even better if it’s coming from someone new and is little known, because there is no denying that hibernating hipster that undoubtedly resides deep within all of us. Look, a fresh face, a wealth of undiscovered talent with great potential bubbling within. We hold on for dear life as we spread word of the film’s wonder. We jump up and down with unbridled excitement as we hear of the bright mind’s new idea. Celebration erupts as he gains relevancy and is approached with respect. How we adore those first set pictures. Through the ecstatic whirlwind we become blind to the lofty expectations. What can we expect but disappointment? Elysium would have to break new ground, rather than presenting above average science fiction, to keep up with us.

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Editorial: In Defense of District 9

There has been a little bit of a controversy amongst some of my friends in regards to ‘District 9’ and its nomination for Best Picture. Although I’ll admit, the genre and class of film it was is not something that you ordinarily see up for such an award like Best Picture, but here I’ll try to defend why I think ‘District 9’ is amongst the better films nominated in the category.

‘District 9’ is a project that came about when producer Peter Jackson and director Neil Blomkamp decided not to produce a movie based on the video game franchise ‘Halo,’ but to instead make a feature film based on a short Blomkamp had produced called ‘Alive in Joburg.’

The film that came out was a daring, and extremely original piece of sci-fi entertainment that rivals ‘Avatar’ in its visual effects, and exceeds that same film in story. We are presented with a film in a documentary style, we follow Wilkus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley in a stand out performance that is up to par with Christoph Waltz from ‘Inglorious Basterds’), a field operative for the MNU, who is in charge of moving a ghetto colony of aliens 200km away from Johannesburg.

**Spoiler Alert**

Then, things take a turn for the worse, as Wilkus is exposed to a strange chemical, merging his DNA with that of the Aliens. An outcast of his own people, he is on the run, trying to find a cure to his genetic transformation. He teams up with one of the aliens to save himself, and hopefully, the alien vistors.

The transformation of Wilkus from an uncaring government official, to a selfish out for himself individual, to finally sacrificing himself to save the aliens is extremely well orchestrated. The transformation wouldn’t be what it is if it weren’t for the solid story, and stellar acting by Copley. The film is a perfect blend of drama, action, and science fiction. All in a backdrop riddled with insanely good visual effects.

It has been years since I’d seen a science fiction movie that felt so fresh and original, so enthralling, entertaining, and exciting. ‘District 9’ runs on all cylinders from start to finish.

‘District 9’ is an unlikely nominee, but when compared to the rest of the films from the year, there is something very special about it. I’d say the only other film nominated for best picture that I can compare it to as far as originality and uniqueness is Pixar’s ‘Up.’ Let’s face it, ‘Avatar’ was good, but only revolutionary because of its technical achievements. ‘District 9’ is much, much more.

Oscar Nominations Announced

Early in LA Tuesday morning, a good deal of people were up to hear the 2010 nominations for the Academy Award.  This is the first year of the Academy’s new ’10 best picture’ nominee concept. 

There is a lot of things to be excited about with this list of nominees, but a few things that upset me.  (That seems to happen every year.)  The full list is below.  Any oversights?  Any mistakes?  Let us know.

Best Picture

 “Avatar”

“The Blind Side”

 “District 9”

“An Education”

 “The Hurt Locker”

 “Inglourious Basterds”

 “Precious”

“A Serious Man”

 “Up in the Air”

“Up”


Best Director

Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”

James Cameron, “Avatar”

Lee Daniels, “Precious”

Jason Reitman, “Up in the Air”

Quentin Tarantino, “Inglourious Basterds”

Best Actress

Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side”

Helen Mirren, “The Last Station”

Carey Mulligan, “An Education”

Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious”

Meryl Streep, “Julie & Julia”

Best Actor

Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”

George Clooney, “Up in the Air”

Colin Firth, “A Single Man”

Morgan Freeman, “Invictus”

Jeremy Renner, “The Hurt Locker”

Best Supporting Actress

Penelope Cruz, “Nine”

Vera Farmiga, “Up in the Air”

Maggie Gyllenhaal, “Crazy Heart”

Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air”

Mo’Nique, “Precious”

Best Supporting Actor

Matt Damon, “Invictus”

Woody Harrelson, “The Messenger”

Christopher Plummer, “The Last Station”

Stanley Tucci, “The Lovely Bones”

Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”

Best Original Screenplay

Mark Boal, “The Hurt Locker”

Quentin Tarantino, “Inglourious Basterds”

Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman, “The Messenger”

Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, “A Serious Man”

Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, “Up”

Best Adapted Screenplay

Neil Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, “District 9”

Nick Hornby, “An Education”

Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, and Tony Roche, “In the Loop”

Geoffrey Fletcher, “Precious”

Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, “Up in the Air”


Best Animated Feature

“Coraline”

“Fantastic Mr. Fox”

“The Princess and the Frog”

“The Secret of Kells”

“Up”

Best Foreign Language Film

“Ajami” (Israel)

“The Milk of Sorrow” (Peru)

“Un Prophete (A Prophet)” (France)

“El Secreto de Sus Ojos (The Secret in their Eyes)” (Argentina)

“The White Ribbon (Germany)

Best Feature Documentary

“Burma VJ”

“The Cove”

“Food, Inc.”

“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”

“Which Way Home”

Best Art Direction

“Avatar”

“The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus”

“Nine”

“Sherlock Holmes”

“The Young Victoria”

Best Cinematography

“Avatar”

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

“The Hurt Locker”

“Inglourious Basterds”

“The White Ribbon”

Best Costume Design

“Bright Star”

“Coco Avant Chanel”

“The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus”

“Nine”

“The Young Victoria”

Best Editing

“Avatar”

“District 9”

“The Hurt Locker”

“Inglourious Basterds”

“Precious”

Best Make-Up

“Il Divo”

“Star Trek”

“The Young Victoria”

Best Visual Effects

“Avatar”

“District 9”

“Star Trek”

Best Original Score

“Avatar”

“Fantastic Mr. Fox”

“The Hurt Locker”

“Sherlock Hollmes”

“Up”

Best Song

“Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog”

“Down in New Orleans” from “The Princess and the Frog”

“Loin de Paname” from “Paris 36”

“Take It All” from “Nine”

“The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from “Crazy Heart”


Sound Mixing

“Avatar”

“Hurt Locker”

“Inglourious Basterds”

“Star Trek”

“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”

Sound Editing

“Avatar”

“Hurt Locker”

“Inglourious Basterds”

“Star Trek”

“Up”


Documentary Short

“China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province”

“The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner”

“The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”

“Music by Prudence”

“Rabbit a la Berlin”


Animated Short

“French Roast”

“Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty”

“The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)”

“Logorama”

“A Matter of Loaf and Death”


Live Action Short

“The Door”

“Instead of Abracadabra”

“Kavi”

“Miracle Fish”

“The New Tenants”

Vatche’s Best of 2009

So another year, another list. I had to think long and hard about my favorite movies of 2009, since I do feel like it was such a great year so full of great films. Though, I will admit, I missed on quite a few which I can’t include on my list.Some of the films I still have yet to see that are getting huge acclaim are, ‘Up in the Air,’ ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox,’ and ‘A Serious Man,’ just to name a few.

So this is my list, with links to their respective Lonely Reviewer articles.

Up

It’s funny, having recently read quite a bit about how Pixar came to be, it is extremely interesting how often Pixar has changed the game and moved things forward continuously since Toy Story. With the first Toy Story, they proved people wrong, showing audiences that you can make a great feature film entirely using CGI. With ‘A Bugs Life’ they proved they could do it again. With ‘The Incredibles’ they proved they could make a film that would cater to both adults and younger audiences. With ‘Up,’ they showed us yet again their capability of crafting a film with a very mature storyline, and making it accessible to all audiences. ‘Up’ has to be one of the most emotional movies I’ve seen all year, and if you didn’t see this film, you’re doing yourself quite a disservice.

District 9

Another must see of 2009. An extremely original story, with an extremely original style. ‘District 9’ was 100x better then any Halo movie would have been, and I’m glad Peter Jackson and Neill Blomkamp didn’t give up on their collaboration when Halo was canceled. Brilliantly acted, amazing effects, and a great story.

Star Trek

I’m a nerd, plain and simple. I won’t deny it. I’ve been a fan of Star Trek since my Mom packed my lunch in my Star Trek the Next Generation lunchbox in the 1st grade. In fact, I’ve been always entertained by ALL the Star Trek films, even the “bad” ones. However, I was slightly skeptical of the remake, but, I just kept repeating my mantra, trust in J.J. The man couldn’t have made a more perfect film. Stunning production design, great acting, and a very fun story.

500 Days of Summer

I saw this film at IFFBoston ’09, months before the actual release of the film. ‘500 Days,’ is a great film, a realistic telling of a relationship between a man and a woman. Though the characters aren’t entirely likable (I won’t tell you whose side I was on), the acting is stellar, and the storyline, extremely relatable. Definitely one of the better, more unique relationship films of the past few years, up there with ‘Eternal Sunshine’

Avatar

Honestly, what more can I say about this film. I’ve never left a theater feeling more stunned in my life. It’s been a long time movie-goers have seen something this epic in terms of technological advancement. It was a fun film, with something for everyone.

The Brothers Bloom

The Brothers Bloom was a great movie that was not served well do it’s terrible trailer. I saw the film as the opening night presentation at IFFBoston ’09. I was blown away, such a tight story with a very unique style from director Rian Johnson. After I got home, I decided to pull up its trailer, and I couldn’t believe the way they were portraying it. I know its a story about con men, but its not Oceans 11. If I’d seen the trailer, I probably would have never gone to the movies! Coming off such a great original film, ‘Brick,’ this new effort from Johnson is not to be missed.

Inglourious Basterds

I’m not the biggest fan of Tarintino. His films are great, but something about them always bother me in someway. That said, I do believe ‘Basterds,’ is the filmmakers best work. Like ‘Bloom,’ the trailer did not do this film justice, however, they were probably banking on audiences finding this movie due to Brad Pitt, rather then the true reason this film was what it was, Christoph Waltz, the actor who played the Nazi Jew Hunter. If this man doesn’t walk away with a Best Supporting Actor trophy, I won’t know what to say.

The Hangover

The film that made actor Zach Galifianakis a household name. ‘The Hangover’ was definitely my favorite comedy of the year, though it was a very strong year, with films like ‘I Love You, Man’ and anything else starring Paul Rudd. Todd Philips’ outrageous Las Vegas Bachelor Party film earns a top spot as the movie that made me laugh the most. But, if you haven’t seen this yet, it must be dark under that rock you live under…..

So that’s it, my favorite movies of 2009! Let me know what you think in the comments, if you disagree, and of course, movies you think I should see that would definitely be on this list!

Happy New Year everyone!

Review: District 9

Review: District 9

District 9I’ve heard a lot about ‘District 9,’ from amazing to overrated. ‘District 9’ is a project that came out of the defunct ‘Halo’ film that was supposed to be produced by Peter Jackson, and directed by Neill Blomkamp. Based on Blomkamp’s sci-fi short, Alive in Joburg, ‘District 9’ is a very original, extremely entertaining sci-fi film.
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