Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - January 15, 2010

Ready to Rent\

Moon\

By Joe Ramirez\

Sony DVD & Blu-Ray\

1 hour, 37 minutes\

Director: Duncan Jones\

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Director Duncan Jones' ("Zowie Bowie!" David's son) "Moon" is a movie of big aspirations that actually hits a few of them. Given Jones' age (he is 38), his father's reputation for otherworldly characters ("Ziggy Stardust" notwithstanding) and with the long shadow cast from late 1960s and early '70s space operas (especially "2001" and "Silent Running"), I can see how Jones could be the prime candidate for a low-tech revival of classic science fiction. The result is "Moon," which wisely utilizes the unsung Sam Rockwell (our most undervalued actor working today) and an economical looking robot to detail the story of a lone moon miner who may not be so alone as he thinks. The movie comes pretty close to filling its big shoes, but falls short due to the sketchiness of its deflated finale. \

I mentioned Sam Rockwell as one of our most underrated actors and I believe this absolutely. He is one of those actors that started out in the late '80s on TV and in independent movies and sports an indistinct, every man quality that makes him invisible in lesser roles. However, he hit it big with 1999's "The Green Mile" as an erratic murderer, but really got to flex his stuff in 2002's "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" in which his real gift for comedy (he is the best part of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy") is juxtaposed with his subdued intensity. In the right role, he can appear to be the plain guy with big problems that makes him instantly interesting and, when mixed with his natural vulnerability, believable. He is the suburban, post-modern Jimmy Stewart whom we never doubt. \

"Moon" exits in the same universe that Kubrick's "2001" inhabits, however, instead of aliens mucking up humanity, the action revolves around a lone mining station where Sam (Sam Rockwell) and his robot companion GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey) carry out all operations. After three years, however, Sam is getting a little anxious about leaving. Given that he has two more weeks to go, it is understandable because, due to a broken transmitter, he has not had direct contact with his wife or bosses since the beginning of his stay. Sam also understandably is becoming paranoid about his relief not arriving in a timely manner, which coincides with an accident, which leads him to suspect that he may not be so alone after all. \

There is a twist, of course, but it's one that belongs to a short story instead of a feature length movie. Thankfully, Rockwell is enough to keep the audience engaged, pulling it off with both pathos and purpose. The great production design by Tony Noble, and Art direction by Hideki Arichi and Josh Fifarek, is a big plus while also being a sly nod to Kubrick's movie: the base itself is both workmanlike and NASAesque and a very sly in-joke. Unlike Kubrick's movie, however, Jones fleshes out a truncated resolution, as if he and his screenwriting partner Nathan Parker gave up at the end of the writing process. The result is a feeling of being stunned when the credits roll, as if the party were cut short just when it was starting to find its mojo. \

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