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Thursday, June 13, 2013

James Kirk Recommends

Today I present a guest blog post by James Kirk. Kirk is the owner of Jamestown Coffee Company in downtown Columbia, SC. In his spare time he pens articles for internet sites such as the Lexington Anchor and Whatculture.

Science Fiction Classics Worth Checking Out
MOON (2009)*** ­­­½

Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey; directed by Duncan Jones.

Sam Rockwell plays an American astronaut serving three years alone on the moon. When he has two weeks remaining on his contract, something strange happens.

Moon is one of those festival films that manages to surprise and delight, as it far exceeded my expectations. Often, "independent" and "sci-fi" add up to a nice effort and only that, with two much effort expended in trying to make "cool sci-fi" while leaving story and character back on Earth. Not so, Moon.

English director Duncan Jones said his influences were the original Alien, Silent Running and Outland, and he's crafted a story about a simple blue collar working man who's finishing up a three-year contract mining helium on the moon and wants nothing more than to return to his wife and child back on Earth. But with two weeks to go before returning to Earth, Sam Bell (Rockwell, in a role written with him in mind) begins to suspect that he is not alone on the moon.

To continue with the synopsis would include a spoiler on which the entire plot of Moon turns, so I will say only that Sam is tested physically and psychologically to his limits as a human being, and things on the lunar surface (and perhaps everything else) are not what they have seemed.
Rockwell, who appeared in Iron Man and also The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, manages a performance which is truly remarkable. I have never doubted that Rockwell was a decent actor, but did not realize he had such chops. He alone carries the movie, a remarkable feat on its own but even more remarkable since the only other actor he truly interacts with is Kevin Spacey.

In an homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey, the moon base is run by a computer called GERTY, voiced by Spacey, and Jones uses our shared cultural familiarity with the HAL-9000 to project a sense of dread and doom on Sam's mission. It's no accident that we soon discover that GERTY knows more about what's going on than it lets on, and that ramps up the tension and suspense a few more notches.

Moon is one of those independents that deserved a wider distribution. If you enjoy a twisting "Twilight Zone" storyline with great acting and a sci-fi bent to it, seek this one out.