Julie & Julia & the Prawns

I did a District 9 and Julie & Julia double feature at home today. The scene where Amy Adams (Julie) boils a lobster is about all I can find in common between them. Ebert even mentions boiling lobsters in his review of District 9:

In appearance, [the prawns a]re loathsome, in behavior disgusting and evoke so little sympathy that killing one is like — why, like dropping a 7-foot lobster into boiling water.

Both are highly recommended– which one I recommend more would depend on the audience– but I enjoyed District 9 more. It’s unique, represents a writer and director (Neil Blomkamp) thinking on their feet. I look forward to what Blomkamp will do next.

If you’ve seen District 9 and Avatar, did you notice a similarity between the two? Both have a human becoming an alien that ends up helping the aliens defeat the humans. In District 9, it’s an accident and Wikus has no way out. In Avatar, Jake volunteers but enjoys it more than he had expected. Wikus is almost single-mindedly selfish in his motives until the very end, while Jake gradually assumes the role of savior after falling in love.

In her article titled “When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like ‘Avatar’?”, Annalee Newitz went off on a fantastic rant, but also made comparisons between both films as movies about white guilt.

These are movies about white guilt. Our main white characters realize that they are complicit in a system which is destroying aliens, AKA people of color – their cultures, their habitats, and their populations. The whites realize this when they begin to assimilate into the “alien” cultures and see things from a new perspective. To purge their overwhelming sense of guilt, they switch sides, become “race traitors,” and fight against their old comrades. But then they go beyond assimilation and become leaders of the people they once oppressed. This is the essence of the white guilt fantasy, laid bare. It’s not just a wish to be absolved of the crimes whites have committed against people of color; it’s not just a wish to join the side of moral justice in battle. It’s a wish to lead people of color from the inside rather than from the (oppressive, white) outside.

I don’t agree with it all, but it is a magnificent rant.


On the Geek Cred of Zoe Saldana

So this weekend was a Zoe Saldana weekend. And to think that until 3 days ago, I had barely heard her name.

Within a year, this lady has gone from being barely known for a small part in Pirates of the Caribbean to having geek cred to rival Patrick Stewart (Star Trek and X-Men) Ian McKellen (Lord of the Rings and X-Men) and Christopher Lee (Lord of the Rings and the Star Wars prequels).

Saldana plays the female Na’vi named Neytiri in the James Cameron behemoth Avatar. And earlier this year, she played Uhura in JJ Abrams’ Star Trek. And so, she has entered fandom folk lore. Like the year Christopher Lee played Dooku and Saruman (2002), or McKellen played Magneto and Gandalf (2003).
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Let me not bore you with details: go see Avatar. It will forever change your expectations from movies. It changes what is possible. And it’s meant to be seen in 3D, and on the biggest screen possible.