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Life Times
Video night

Life Times lights up the dark hours with a few staff picks.

Paranormal Activity

86 minutes | 99 minutes (extended version)

The premise of this low-budget horror film from director Oren Peli is nothing new - a young couple, Micah (Micah Sloat) and Katie (Katie Featherson), move into a suburban house and encounter a supernatural presence intent on disturbing the peace.

What makes the movie work however is the raw homemade footage created (in the vein of The Blair Witch Project) when Micah decides to document every second of their time in the house in hopes of capturing the paranormal occurrences, which increase in frequency and intensity towards the film's violent denouement.

The increasing strain on the couple's relationship is also recorded, and it is the performance of the actors here, including their often banal interactions, that grant the film its believability.

Having grossed about US$150 million at the box office, Paranormal Activity looks set to take its place among horror cult classics. Just don't watch it home alone. 3.5/5


The Informant

The Informant is a true story about a corporate whistle-blower named Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon). He is an executive at a company called ADM that is involved in an international conspiracy to fix the price of Lycine, a corn extract. As an executive member of the firm, Mark is not only privy to all the details but is also a major stakeholder. When the FBI begins snooping around, Whitacre decides to tell all in order to save himself. But it soon comes to light that Whitacre isn't quite the White Knight he pretends to be.

The filmmakers do a tremendous job dramatising the unmasking of Whitacre, an endearing if quirky family man who seems to have everything. As wry humour gives way to a darker side, Matt Damon pulls off a tight-rope act with finesse. Excellent screenplay. 4.5/5


District 9

Peter Jackson of LOTR fame provides the backing for Neill Blomkamp's District 9, a documentary-style feature on prawn-like aliens stranded on earth once their mothership runs out of gas above Johannesburg. When Multinational United (MNU) begins to evict the 1.8 million aliens interned in the slums of District 9, ostensibly in response to public demand, newly appointed relocation chief Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley) finds he's bitten off rather more than he can chew.

The film's messages are clear - the eviction of aliens has precedents in apartheid and Jo'burg's District 6, and MNU provides an easy target as the unscrupulous corporation willing to sacrifice anything in the pursuit of filthy lucre. But even without the moral message, District 9 is an absorbing, refreshing take on the alien genre, and you may be surprised who your sympathies lie with by the time the shooting starts. 4/5


(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)