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Movie of the Day: District 9

Where Can You Watch It?

Why Watch It Now?

Neli Blomkamp’s science fiction drama set in a South African alien refugee camp was probably overhyped in 2009, when it received a surprise Best Picture nomination. The film’s reputation hasn’t been helped by the director’s subsequent attempts on the sci-fi-as-social-parable format – Elysium on wealth inequality and Chappie on abuses of law enforcement both fell a little flat. Steeped in South Africa’s history of apartheid, District 9 has more confidence in its central message about bigotry and discrimination; at the same time, the comparisons to the discredited chapter of South African political history now make it seem like obvious messaging. However, it’s possible there’s another layer to Blombkamp’s debut feature. Given the debate around immigration and the ways we define “other”-ness, District 9 now feels like far more than a simple apartheid allegory, a more complex take on how we define “us” versus “them” in arbitrary, malleable ways. At the very least, it’s worth another look.

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