Film Screening 31st October, 2009

Poster for The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 

8:00 PM, 31st October, 2009

  • MA
  • 121 mins
  • Unknown
  • Tony Scott
  • Brian Helgeland
  • John Travolta, Denzel Washington, Luis Guzman, John Turturro

The New York City subway system is undoubtedly one of the most iconic in the world, having been featured in almost every New York-set film from Saturday Night Fever to Spider-Man 3. So when a group of armed men plan to hijack a train and hold its passengers for ransom, there's little doubt as to which subway they'll choose to do it in.

Travolta stars as Ryder, the mastermind behind the plot, while Washington plays Walter Garber, a disgraced subway dispatcher who is forced to negotiate for the lives of the people on the train. Garber may know nothing about hostage situations, but he certainly knows a lot about the subway system. Whether he knows enough to thwart Ryder's plan, however, is another matter altogether.

The Taking Of Pelham 123 is a remake of the 1974 film of the same name, which starred Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw in the roles now inhabited by Washington and Travolta. Unlike in the original, Ryder is no mere mercenary and Travolta brings the gravitas needed to make this shift believable - despite being bogged down by a moustache and leather outfit that makes him look like a member of the Village People. In a nice touch, Washington's character has also been changed from a cop to a lowly, overweight dispatcher, further altering the dynamic of their relationship.

Filmed on location in (and under) New York, this film delivers in spades on the frenetic camerawork and noisy, brutal action that one would expect from the director of Top Gun and Man On Fire. Between that, and the enthralling verbal duels between the in-over-his-head Garber and the manic Ryder, The Taking Of Pelham 123 is one train you won't want to miss.

Adrian Ma

Poster for District 9

District 9 

10:16 PM, 31st October, 2009

  • MA
  • 112 mins
  • Unknown
  • Neill Blomkamp
  • Neill Blomkamp
  • Sharlto Copley, David James, Jason Cope, Mandla Gaduka

District 9 is a 'documentary' about the aliens that have moved into the slums of South Africa, most of which are living in the ghetto camp District 9. The scum of the universe, who have parked their dilapidated old ships above our cities and are leeching our food, water and shelter. Some humans have taken up the aliens' cause and are fighting alongside them for alien rights, but the government really isn't interested in their plight. Of course it is all fiction, but a good documentary nonetheless.

District 9 is based on the cult short "Alive in Jo'burg", which had Internet video fans buzzing enough that Peter Jackson hired its director, Neill Blomkamp, to work on his big-budget adaptation of the "Halo" video game. While waiting for studio bosses to sort out the financing around the Halo movie, Blomkamp quietly worked out a feature length version of "Alive in Jo'burg" and quickly put it all together after all hope was given up on Halo. The result is a fusion of near-guerrilla filmmaking tied together with the resources of some of the best CGI crews working today (who were sitting around waiting for Halo to take off). The movie manages to wrap together sci-fi, black comedy and political commentary into an engaging mockumentary quite unlike anything before it. There are obvious parallels to the fight against apartheid in the story, but they aren't heavy-going nor do they demand any knowledge of South African history. District 9 is presented in such a way that the movie can be taken either as light entertainment or at a much deeper level.

Adam Gould