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Sundance Part Two: Moon
Posted on Saturday January 17, 2009, 10:13 by Damon Wise

I must admit that some trepidation set in as the lights darkened for the British movie Moon. I wanted it to be great, but would it? I needn't have worried. As I'd hoped, the film turned out to be an interesting and, visually, sophisticated lo-fi sci-fi, but it carried more of an emotional wallop than I was expecting. And having said that, I'm stuck. It's hard to know what more to say about it, because the film rather reveals itself in layers, and any one of its elements will have you making an entirely different and more distracting film in your head. So I'll start with the opening salvo, which explains that the solution to the problem of the world's dwindling energy resources lies on the dark side of the moon, where an element called Helium-3 exists in plentiful quantities. Then, over some cool, Space 1999-style credits, we learn that space miner Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is in charge of the base where Helium-3 is gathered and exported back to Earth, and after a violent accident he is confined to his quarters, where the soothing HAL-like computer Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey) tends to him. But it's not quite as simple as that. When Sam awakes, there's someone else on the base: it's Sam, albeit in a more aloof, fresher version – but, bizarrely, a version of Sam that we've actually already met.

So one Sam must be a fantasy, then. Or a dream. Or a ghost. Or something. But which one? It doesn't help matters that Gerty doesn't mention this sore point, the elephant in the space station, and for casual audiences this could be a bit of a brain-ache. But if you commit to Moon's riddle, there's a very rewarding payoff. There's a twist or two, but this is not simply a film about the unexpected, and I'm looking forward to seeing it again on Friday (at its official premiere) for that reason. When you buy into it, Duncan Jones' deceptively gripping film has a lot to say about today: it could even be the first film to address the credit crunch, in the way that only genre films can. It's about inhumanity, capitalism and penny-pinching, but at the same time it's also about the human spirit, which is why you'll find echoes of great 70s/80s sci-fi movies like Dark Star, Android and Silent Running in there, films that used space as the great black cavernous void against which to put man's self-important foibles into grimly funny perspective. I could go on, but Moon is many months away from release yet, and it would be mean to give away its secrets so soon. However, I will say that Clint Mansell provides an excellent score and that the model-work is awesome (maybe the biggest compliment I can pay it is that I forgot I was watching a British movie shot at Shepperton; as far as I was concerned, this WAS happening on the moon). Plus, as Sam Bell and Sam Bell, Rockwell is terrific. But if I said any more, that would spoil things. And we wouldn't want that, would we?

Coming next: Brooklyn's Finest and Rudo Y Cursi. And remember: my posse's on Broadway.

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1 bojangles1971
Posted on Saturday January 17, 2009, 14:10
Who are you?

2 Acho
Posted on Monday January 19, 2009, 16:54
Sounds like Moon is living up to they (slight, admittedly-generated-by-you) hype! It sounds like a great little film.

The song quotes at the end are getting more random!

3 richCie
Posted on Thursday January 22, 2009, 21:37
like Acho glad to see Moon lives up to the entirely-down-to-you hype. sounds superb and i'm dying to see this!

to bojangles, Mr Wise is as far as i'm aware a semi-frequent contributor to Empire Magazine (as well as numerous other places...i think) but whose section on the Empire website is never really mentioned elsewhere...
perhaps they've forgotten about him...

4 Manfrendshensindshen
Posted on Tuesday February 10, 2009, 16:25
This sounds just like my kind of sci-fi! I liked Sunshine a lot, adored Soderbergh's Solaris remake and generally fancy good old 70's/early 80's SF flicks.

But I find it somewhat unfair how Mr. Ooh Ooh Ooh, Esq. created this hype - with me jumping wholeheartedly on the bandwagon - yet the actual movie's release date seems to be at a time when we might actually be digging for Helium-3...
I want to see it, and I want to see it sooner rather than later.
Beautiful model work... Space 1999-style credits... drool!

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