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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

MOON (2009)

Duncan Jones’s directing debut, from his own story, is ‘thinking man’s’ Sci-Fi that does well by its small budget, but can’t get past the magpie aspects of its themes & storyline. He’s even proud of his borrowings, holding up shards from 2001/’68; SOLARIS/’72; SILENT RUNNING/’72; among others, for us to admire. Even nodding toward THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH/’76 which starred his dad, David Bowie. There’s nothing inherently wrong, or even unusual, in these lifts, be it homage or plagiarism*, but not when the content, as presented, feels all used up. The same goes for lead Sam Rockwell. Always a welcome presence in supporting roles, something goes missing when he plays leads. Here, as the sole worker-bee on a moon-based energy harvesting site, he lacks a movie star's stillness and works too hard to fill in all the details. It leaves an audience with nothing to do. A rookie’s mistake the director should have picked up. The best thing about the film is the quietly elegant manner it maintains as Rockwell goes about his routine. Alas, Jones doesn’t trust his instincts and the film devolves into metaphysical cloning dialectics, with cheery prompts from a cute-as-a-button computer assistant (Kevin Spacey, all wrong inflections as a HAL-9000 voice) and a plot that stops making sense as soon as we hear the words ‘memory implant.’

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *Satirist (and MIT Math Professor) Tom Lehrer has the best take ever on plagiarism. And while his ditty is about Research Scientists, it always springs to mind when lifts from better films are used as ‘homage.’

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