I had high hopes for District 9 and it did not disappoint. The film's early portions uses the technique of faux documentary to set up the back story--1.5 million aliens from another planet live in the shanty ghettoes of Johannesburg, South Africa after their ship comes to a stop above the city. They've been there for twenty years and the locals are sick of them so a forced relocation is about to begin. The documentary follows this relocation until the story flips into a more traditional narrative with a South African and a couple of the aliens. I was pretty happy when the documentary portion ended as it is difficult for me to get emotionally attached to characters when that tactic is employed.
There's so many good things about District 9--the infection story, the crazed Nigerian gang in the slums, the apartheid connection, the science fiction aspect of aliens + space ship + technology, the story of human becoming alien and aliens wanting to get home. All of it good. The film is blessed with some amazing editing that allows it to piece together multiple stories in a lot of formats. District 9 gets better as the film goes along and when films pick up steam to deliver wonderful, powerful endings, that's a good movie. District 9 delivered a great ending.
What better way to follow up a dark, futuristic and violent science fiction film than going to see an indie romantic comedy? (500) Days of Summer is a sweet, smart, romantic ode to love, the loss of love and just being with another person. The story jumps all over the place in the relationship between Summer (Zooey Deschanel) and Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as we see their good, their bad and in between from the very start. The narrator warns us--this might not be the happy ending kind of love story that is a pre-requisite in most Hollywood romantic comedies and the narrator is largely right.
I loved the non-linear aspects of the script. The film is well-written, witty and Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel have a great chemistry and deliver nice performances as the star crossed couple. I loved the use of split screen a few times and the musical number was one of the most joyous scenes I've seen in a film all year. This scene filled me with happiness as I watched it. I was envious of Gordon-Levitt's endless supply of cool ties too.
Wild genre jumping won't work every time like it did with District 9 and (500) Days of Summer--you have to make sure you are in the mood and the films are both worth seeing. This time doubling up worked for me. One night, two great movies that made me feel a diverse stream of emotions. As we drove home I just felt so love with cinema and that is a magical feeling.