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9 (2009) DVD

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9 (2009)


 Shane Acker


 Pamela Pettler (screenplay), Shane Acker (story)


 Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover
9, who is about the size and shape of one of those posable tabletop mannequins used by art students, has a soft burlap body and a zipper up his middle. His outsize eyes blink like camera shutters, and they take in a world of monstrous terror and haunting mystery. In the 10-minute version of the animated film that bears his name, 9 and his comrades — who I suppose should be called robots, though they are softer and rounder than the contraptions usually evoked by that word — navigate their surroundings without speech. Now, at feature length, the main character’s muteness is a temporary impediment, and he finds himself surrounded by eight other numbered automatons, introduced out of order like a row of Sudoku. (The numerologically inclined will note that the film’s opening date is 9/9/09). Some of these figures speak in the polished tones of well-known actors, including John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly and Crispin Glover. Once 2 (Martin Landau) gives him a tuneup, 9 begins asking questions in the voice of Elijah Wood. And one of the virtues of this “9,” as of its shorter predecessor (both were directed by Shane Acker, who wrote the feature with Pamela Pettler) is that it does not rush toward answers. Instead it lingers in a strange, sinister and brilliantly realized landscape rich with allusions to the histories of painting, animation, fantastic literature and 20th-century totalitarianism. 

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