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Science fiction allegory 'District 9' to open spring film series

RELEASED: Jan. 12, 2011

District 9 Poster

EAU CLAIRE — "District 9" (2009), a science fiction allegory that was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, will open the spring semester of the campus film series Jan. 20-23 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The International Film Society will present the film at 6 and 8:30 p.m. in Davies Theatre.

"Made for around $30 million — a steal at today's prices — this frenetic debut by Neill Blomkamp (a protege of Peter Jackson, who produced the film) grabs you by the eyeballs from the very first frame," wrote National Public Radio.

Over 20 years ago, aliens made contact with Earth. Humans waited for the hostile attack or the giant advances in technology. Neither came. Instead the aliens were refugees, the last survivors of their home world. The creatures were set up in a makeshift home in South Africa's District 9 as the world's nations argued over what to do with them. Now, patience over the alien situation has run out. The tension between the aliens and the humans comes to a head when a human field operative, Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley), contracts a mysterious virus that begins changing his DNA. Wikus quickly becomes the most hunted man in the world, as well as the most valuable — since he is the key to unlocking the secrets of alien technology. Ostracized and friendless, there is only one place left for him to hide: District 9.

"'District 9' is very smart sci-fi, but that's just the beginning," wrote the Los Angeles Times. "It's also a scathing social satire hidden inside a terrific action thriller teeming with gross aliens and regrettable inter-species conflict. And it's a blast."

The 112-minute film is rated R for bloody violence and pervasive language.

Admission to campus films is free at the door with a Blugold Card or International Film Society membership. Community members who wish to attend campus films must purchase an annual IFS membership at the Service Center (715-836-3727) in Davies Center's east lobby. An individual membership costs $4; a family membership costs $10.

The following films also will be presented on campus this semester:

— "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" (U.S./Canada 2010), Jan. 27-30. Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) has an awesome life. He's 23, in a rock band, "between jobs" and dating a cute high school girl. But when he falls for the seriously mind-blowing, dangerously fashionable Ramona Flowers, he finds her seven evil exes stand between him and true happiness. Can Scott beat the bad guys and get the girl without turning his precious little life upside-down? The Chicago Reader called the film "one of the most vivid and spirited adaptations of a comic book since 'Spider-Man' — and one of the hippest since 'Ghost World.'"

— "Metropolis" (Germany 1927), Feb. 3-6. Incorporating more than 25 minutes of newly discovered footage, this 2010 restoration is the definitive edition of Fritz Lang's science fiction masterpiece. Backed by a new recording of Gottfried Huppertz's 1927 score, the film's visual design and special effects are more striking than ever in this frightening portrait of an exploitative 21st-century city-state.

— "High Fidelity" (U.S./U.K. 2000), Feb. 10-13. Stephen Frears' biting romantic comedy stars John Cusack as the thirty-something owner of a used record store in Chicago. After his longtime girlfriend walks out on him, he examines his failed attempts at romance and happiness — a process that drags him kicking and screaming into adulthood.

— "A Serious Man" (U.S./U.K./France 2009), Feb. 17-20. The Coen brothers' dark comedy centers on Larry Gopnik, a Jewish college professor in the Midwest during the 1960s. He watches his life unravel as his wife prepares to leave him for his pompous colleague. His deadbeat brother won't get off the couch. His son is having problems at Hebrew school, and his daughter is stealing money from his wallet to save up for a nose job. Larry seeks advice from three different rabbis. Can anyone help him cope with his afflictions and become a righteous person, a mensch, a serious man?

— "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (U.K. 1975), Feb. 18. When a soon-to-be married couple (Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick) is stranded in an isolated area, they seek refuge at the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry). "A fast-paced pastiche of camp, science fiction, rock music, horror, and more camp" (The A.V. Club), the audience-participation cult classic is a Winter Carnival tradition that screens Friday at midnight. Tickets for this special event are $8 ($5 with UW-Eau Claire student ID).

— "Restrepo" (U.S. 2010), Feb. 24-27. This feature-length documentary chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley, considered one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. military. The movie focuses on a remote 15-man outpost, named "Restrepo" after a platoon medic who was killed in action. This is an entirely experiential film with only one goal — to make viewers feel as if they have just been through a 90-minute deployment. This is war, full stop.

— "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" (U.S. 1993), March 3-6. This animated feature introduces a new villain who appears and disappears at will, stalking the underworld kingpins of Gotham City. Can Batman (voiced by Kevin Conroy) elude the police, capture the Phantasm and clear his name? Discover all-new revelations about the Dark Knight's past, his arch-rival the Joker (Mark Hamill) and the most grueling battle of Batman's life — the choice between his love of a beautiful woman (Dana Delany) and his vow to be the defender of right.

— "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (Sweden/Denmark/Germany/Norway 2009), March 10-13. Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a holiday gathering on the island owned and inhabited by her powerful Swedish family. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced she was murdered by a member of the family. Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) and computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) are hired to investigate, and link the disappearance to a series of killings that go back decades. Based on the bestselling novel by Steig Larsson.

— "Red Light Revolution" (China 2010), March 31-April 3. When Shunzi's boss fires him for disobedience, his wife leaves him for an actor and throws Shunzi out of the house he bought for her. All in one day. As money pressures rise, the down-and-out Beijinger resorts to opening an adult shop to make ends meet, sparking a sexual revolution in his conservative neighborhood.

— "Fantastic Mr. Fox" (U.S./U.K. 2009), April 7-10. Based on the beloved story by Roald Dahl, Wes Anderson's stop-animation feature tells the tale of the noble, charming and fantastic Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney) who uses his wits and cunning to outfox three dimwitted farmers who tire of sharing their chickens with the crafty creature.

— "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" (Italy/Spain/Germany 1966), April 28-May 1. Ambitious, unflinchingly graphic and stylistically influential, Sergio Leone's masterpiece is an engrossing Western shot through with a volatile mix of myth and realism. Clint Eastwood returns as the Man With No Name, teaming with two gunslingers (Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef) to pursue a cache of stolen Confederate gold.

— "The Secret in Their Eyes" (Argentina/Spain 2009), May 5-8. This Best Foreign Film Oscar-winner is a blend of love story, police procedural crime thriller and legal drama. A recently retired criminal court investigator (Ricardo Darin) decides to write a novel based on a 25-year-old unsolved murder case that haunts him. He shares his plans with Irene (Soledad Villamil), the judge and a former colleague he has secretly loved for years. His search for the truth puts him at the center of a judicial nightmare, as the mystery of the heinous crime continues to unfold in the present.

— "Top Secret!" (U.S. 1984), May 12-15. In his film debut, Val Kilmer plays an Elvis-like American rock idol sent behind the Iron Curtain on a goodwill tour. He becomes involved in a complex espionage scheme thanks to the beautiful daughter of a scientist held captive by the Communists. From the creators of "Airplane!"

Complete schedule information is available through the Activities and Programs office (715-836-4833) or online.

Most films screen at 6 and 8:30 p.m. in Davies Theatre, a 250-seat theater in Davies Center on UW-Eau Claire's lower campus. Campus films are selected and presented by the all-student University Activities Commission of the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate; and the International Film Society, an administrative committee composed of students, faculty, staff and community members. For more than 50 years the film program has represented various countries, cinematic styles, directorial methods, genres and points of view in films that help bring about a better understanding of other cultures as well as a lifelong love of film. The committees are advised by the University Centers Activities and Programs office.

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JS/DW

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