Friday, February 26, 2010

The Good of the Bad and the Ugly

2009 was a great year for film, and in particular what some would deem “bad” movies—not poorly made, un-artistic movies—ones to which you can’t take you kids. (Or grandparents!) Some of them even had a lot of good things to say. Three of the ones that were notable but didn’t quite fall into the “great” category or top ten movies of the year are:

District 9:
Here is a great example of what Sci-fi is capable of: offer up an intelligent examination of issues in a way that causes people to see the problems to which they normally turn a blind eye. Amazingly, the whole thing was produced for a mere 30 million dollars. This is the direction more “Hollywood” movies need to take. There are problems, however. How does a film where all the dialogue was improvised get nominated for Best Screenplay? (The same could be asked of The Hurt Locker.) Especially when that improvisation leads to 95 uses of the same adjective/ verb/ exclamation. Of course, Good Will Hunting won doing the same thing. Also, this movie tries to do the Mockumentary approach but has to break away frequently jarring the viewer out of the mood every time it does.

Zombieland:
In similar fashion to District 9, here horror causes us to examine humanity from a fresh perspective. Well, only as fresh as any Zombie movie can be these days. Others have done a much better job with message (Shawn of the Dead and Romero spring to mind) and, to be fair, this movie is not particularly a message movie. Still, it effectively warns against the isolation and paranoia that are on the rise these days. And, it shows that a healthy fear of clowns is a good thing!

Drag Me To Hell:
Sam Raimi presents a textbook example of how to make a scary, gross horror movie in PG13 territory. It is incredible, actually. It is the story of a girl who wants to get ahead in life and decides to set on some people along the way. As if that is what responsibility and adulthood are all about. Moral of the story? Being kind and considerate of others may not advance your career, but it is a lot better than being cursed to hell! There could have been a better truth here, but this movie is more comedy than serious warning.

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