Of the handful of films opening this year with "9" or "Nine" in their titles, only one opens on 9/9/09. Also noted in this quick roundup: two documentaries; and a couple of series launching in New York.
First up, Scott Foundas in the Voice: "Probably the strangest animated feature to appear since Coraline, albeit far less varied in mood and style, 9 was expanded by [Shane] Acker (with screenwriter Pamela Pettler) from his 2004 Oscar-nominated short film of the same name. Tim Burton came on board as a producer (along with Night Watch and Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov), and there is an obvious touch of Burtonia to the movie's dystopian vision, with nods in the direction of Czech animator Jan Svankmajer and the late Polish painter/photographer Zdzislaw Beksinski as well. The result is never as gripping in narrative terms - a well-worn litany of dystopian-future chestnuts - as it is visually, but Acker keeps things moving briskly for the movie's 70-odd minutes, and pulls off the trickier feat of establishing distinct personalities for his monochromatic, look-alike characters, who ultimately have more in common with the functional men of war in a 50s B-movie than with the plush-toy-ready denizens of most American animated fare."
More from Sam Adams (IFC), Matthew Connolly (Slant), William Goss (Cinematical), Jonathan Kiefer, Paul Matwychuk, Andrew O'Hehir (Salon), Robert Levin (Critic's Notebook), Shawn Levy (Oregonian), Drew McWeeney (Hitfix), Matt Prigge (Philadelphia Weekly), Jeff Reichert (indieWIRE), Tasha Robinson (AV Club), Nick Schager, AO Scott (New York Times), Benjamin Sutton (L) and Keith Uhlich (Time Out New York).
Interviews with Acker: Alex Billington (FirstShowing), Aaron Hillis (IFC) and Gina McIntyre (Los Angeles Times). At AICN, Capone talks with Tim Burton and Jennifer Connelly; and Eric Kohn interviews Burton for the Wrap.
Online viewing, via Craig Kennedy:
"At the center of Joe Berlinger's Crude are distressing images of Ecuador's Amazonian soil and water turned sludgy and toxic from foreign oil drilling," writes Fernando F Croce in Slant. "Concisely and infuriatingly illustrating the link between ecological devastation and corporate colonialism, these scabrous views of rainforest-turned-waste-pits are the starting point for the veteran documentarian's tough-minded chronicle of a court case that has spun decades and showcased the most viscous effects of conglomerate interest.
"Filled with glancing light and happy faces, Marina of the Zabbaleen, Engi Wassef's compassionate documentary about a poor community of garbage recyclers, fights hard to sweeten the misery of its surroundings," writes Jeannette Catsoulis in the New York Times. "Its success is due in no small part to Rob Hauer's eloquent cinematography, which creeps inside the mind of a child to turn a rat carcass into a shiny toy and mounds of rubbish into a mysterious kingdom."
"[T]he Film Society of Lincoln Center's Latinbeat festival is a modest but diverse exhibition from Latin America's ever-budding film circuit," writes Ed Gonzalez in the Voice. "Incidentally, the fest is celebrating the life and work of Argentine writer [Julio] Cortázar with a sidebar that includes Antonioni's Blowup (inspired by a Cortázar short story) and illustrates the great author's obsession with identity and time, the prevailing themes of this year's Latinbeat." More from James van Maanen. Today through September 24.