Thursday, June 25, 2009

Moon (2009)




The conceptual richness of the lone figure stranded by himself has caught the imaginations of innumerable individuals. This is a particularly post-Enlightenment differentia of the west's general complexion—from Byron's Manfred to Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, to the cinematic self-ostracized and stranded creations such as Robert De Niro's Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver and Tom Hanks' Chuck Noland in Cast Away—marking a noteworthy separation from antiquity. Greek and Roman societies predominantly viewed the threat of exile as a suitable alternative to capital punishment: the possibility of complete divorcement from civilization and community was an incomprehensibly awful fate. Asian readers of Byron's poetry and Defoe's novel would evidently recoil at the subject matter. The Aristotelian aphorism from his Politics, Book One, “Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature and that man is by his nature a social animal,” is tested by these aforementioned works in the most literal manner.

Duncan Jones, son of rock star David Bowie, has set out to mount an eerily similar tale. Like previous science-fiction space opuses like Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and Tarkovsky's Solaris, the physically infinitesimal human being, or human beings, set against the boundlessly illimitable backdrop of space, is at the forefront of Jones's essaying of the solitary man. How much of an impact Jones' father had on the idea behind his feature debut—Bowie's sci-fi-tinged music and his starring part in Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth seem to preternaturally prophesize Moon. Fittingly for this moment, Jones swaps the components of the narrative insofar as he posits not the importance of the earth's properties—Roeg's film sprung from the realization that the earth was singular in its harboring of water—but in its possible deficiencies. Jones, who wrote and directed, begins his picture informing the viewer of a future in which earthlings are searching for sources of energy beyond their planet's atmosphere. Ergo, one man is sent to the moon on a mission whose time is determined by his signing a three-year contract with the energy/space travel company. (Almost humorously, NASA is conspicuous by its absence; apparently, in the future the United States federal government's multiple ongoing wars, and purchasing of car companies, banks and previously-governmentally-chartered mortgage behemoths has made the overseeing of a space program too exorbitant in cost to continue.) Astronaut Sam Bell is tasked with excavating the moon for Helium 3, the light isotope first hypothesized by Australian nuclear physicist Mark Oliphant in 1934. In Jones' lightly sketched future, solar-soaked Helium 3 will become a panacea for mankind, solving the quandaries of finite energy supplies on earth.

Sam Rockwell plays Bell, and contributes to Jones' vision a performance of nearly startling emotional complexity and breadth. The words “nearly startling” should not take away from Rockwell's turn; it is only nearly startling because for those who have experienced Rockwell's performances, his starring tour de force performance in Moon will not be seen as altogether surprising. There is already a doomed existentialism to Rockwell, which at its fiercest is unshakable. Especially desperate moments in films such as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Snow Angels are punctuated by Rockwell's fidgety earnestness and convincing verisimilitude. Here is an actor who always possesses an air of doom and attrition. Rockwell's isolated self is an amazing performance, worth seeking out.

The film brushes up against and in actuality embraces many cliches of science-fiction. A resourceful robot named “Gerty” (voiced quite well by Kevin Spacey) aids astronaut Bell. “Gerty” is an intriguing creation. Much of the creepiness of 2001's HAL remains, but “Gerty” is not the boringly hackneyed malicious computer that HAL enormously helped to usher into the genre or from other recent computer-dominated pictures like Eagle Eye. “Gerty” is doctor, chef, friend and almost paternal figure, a multitasking entity which may both beautifully and frighteningly describe the end of the rainbow for human beings increasingly relying on technology for convenience. The blending of sci-fi and religious allegory is posited through the names Bell assigns his robots, rovers and antennas. One is named Luke, and another is Judas. Bell seems to mark time by drawing a simple face on the metallic wall. The faces appear to represent his daily moods—sadness, happiness, ambivalence, imperfectly represented through Bell's little black-marker avatars. The happy-face image is flashed back from machine to man as well, with “Gerty” smiling and frowning depending on the emotional situation for Sam Bell.

Moon's production design is quite dazzling in its chromatic, partially sterilized environment. (Though plant life is lovingly depicted as surviving on Bell's otherwise inorganic base of operations.) The use of models is the film's most lasting and memorable effect, creating a visage of recurring potency. The mobile rover of Bell's moving about the surface of the moon, mining and harvesting the Helium 3 for the “Lunar” company, is a repeated, visual soughing, the philter between man, device and the action of movement. Jones' reliance on the models pays off in a meta-commentary on filmmaking without it being too ostentatious: Bell nervously works on a sprawling model of “Fairfield,” (Fairfield, California?) Bell's hometown at a workstation table.

Unfortunately, Moon, ironically, seems to run out of energy in its sagging denouement. Once Bell has discovered some painful, shattering truths about his own existence, the film seems to lack a cogent philosophical destination—or even a basic narrative one. Rockwell is given less and less to do at this point, but he remains strong. It is the screenplay which slackens. Moon partly tells the tale of Plato's shadows on the cave wall, though through the anomalistic mirroring between self and id. Here, Moon brings about questions of alter-egos and projections of such. Having done this, however—from an eye-catching “flash-forward” of a female specter aboard the base to Sam recognizing himself in one being only to consider the attitudinal and psychological gulf between the two—Moon is almost too reticent for its own good. Raising many questions and points about these matters, Moon finally disintegrates, its conclusion dissatisfying in its uncharacteristic conventionality. A last-second voice-over, doubtless intended to be piquant and acidic in its black humor, seems to help the film merely wrap things up too neatly, avoiding a large number of the issues it had earlier broached. Nevertheless, Moon is too engrossing for much of its existentialist odyssey to dismiss or ignore.

55 comments:

Sam Juliano said...

I am loathe to take you on here Alexander, as I just got back from seeing this earlier this evening to get my mind off the Michael Jackson shock, while my wife took the kids to see that abomination TRANSFORMERS.

I found this film exceedingly cliched and a big-time bore. I love sci-fi (its one of my favorite genres as it is yours, and over the years I've celebrated THE FOUNTAIN, A.I., and GATTACA among others, not to mention the three you cite, 2001, THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH and SOLARIS) but this fiasco never came together. It was cryptic and muddled, and only Clint Mansell's exquisite score survived the debacle.

I'll agree with that Rockwell did what he could here admirably. And I do realize that you backed off from the favorable assessment later in this exceedingly fine analytical piece (which takes on the film's philosophy in a comprehensive way) when you make this cogent observation:

"Unfortunately, Moon, ironically, seems to run out of energy in its sagging denouement. Once Bell has discovered some painful, shattering truths about his own existence, the film seems to lack a cogent philosophical destination—or even a basic narrative one."

Obviously, though, I disagree with your closing summary assessment:

"Nevertheless, Moon is too engrossing for much of its existentialist odyssey to dismiss or ignore."

I have summarily dismissed it! LOL! Still, what you have accomplished with the review is surely something to be most proud of.

Alexander Coleman said...

Sam, firstly thank you for reminding me of Clint Mansell's score. I intended to point to it in my review, and somehow forgot to while writing it. I agree that it was a wonderfully apt score for this picture.

Thank you for the extremely kind words as always, Sam. Always highly appreciated. Your input ceaselessly enriches CCC.

I agree with you that those films you mention are all superior to Moon.

Sometimes I think I should be a little clearer in my reasoning as far as my assessments are concerned. Moon is, as I note, almost disturbingly familiar and I won't disagree that it hits many cliches of the genre with apparent abandon, but I found it sufficiently engrossing, to re-use that word, to merit a mild but thorough recommendation, of sorts.

Understandably, this is not everyone's proverbial cup of tea. Moon does test one's patience, even at only 97 minutes long--the latter half hour is especially grueling (I rather enjoyed the first hour or so, on the whole).

Ultimately, I don't think we differ too much here, Sam, except that I was kinder and you... well, outright dismissed it! Haha. Which I think is entirely appropriate if you feel so inclined to do so.

It was an effective philosophical mood piece with a riveting performance at its center, but finally little else. In the listless days of summer, I am especially warm to its minor charms, and hope others take the picture in to make up their own minds, but it certainly has its limitations.

The longer I am away from it, the less I think of it, and the more I would rather watch most old Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episodes. Speaking of which, I plan on seeing The Demon With the Glass Hand this weekend, Sam, so I cannot wait for this sure-to-be smolderingly hot weekend here.

Quite a day for you, Sam, between "that abomination TRANSFORMERS" and the Michael Jackson shock. And of course Farrah Fawcett... a trying day indeed. Moon sadly did not work for you either at all, Sam, and I'm sorry to read that, but I again greatly appreciate your thoughts on this most polarizing film. (Interestingly, I felt similarly befuddled and exasperated by the universal critical accolades for Revanche, which did next to nothing for me when I viewed it a little over a week ago. So these things definitely do happen!)

Anonymous said...

Johnny's in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I'm on the pavement
Thinking about the government
The man in the trench coat
Badge out, laid off
Says he's got a bad cough
Wants to get it paid off
Look out kid
It's somethin' you did
God knows when
But you're doin' it again
You better duck down the alley way
Lookin' for a new friend
The man in the coon-skin cap
In the big pen
Wants eleven dollar bills
You only got ten

Maggie comes fleet foot
Face full of black soot
Talkin' that the heat put
Plants in the bed but
The phone's tapped anyway
Maggie says that many say
They must bust in early May
Orders from the D. A.
Look out kid
Don't matter what you did
Walk on your tip toes
Don't try "No Doz"
Better stay away from those
That carry around a fire hose
Keep a clean nose
Watch the plain clothes
You don't need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows

Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
Try hard, get barred
Get back, write braille
Get jailed, jump bail
Join the army, if you fail
Look out kid
You're gonna get hit
But users, cheaters
Six-time losers
Hang around the theaters
Girl by the whirlpool
Lookin' for a new fool
Don't follow leaders
Watch the parkin' meters

Ah get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance, learn to dance
Get dressed, get blessed
Try to be a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts
Don't steal, don't lift
Twenty years of schoolin'
And they put you on the day shift
Look out kid
They keep it all hid
Better jump down a manhole
Light yourself a candle
Don't wear sandals
Try to avoid the scandals
Don't wanna be a bum
You better chew gum
The pump don't work
'Cause the vandals took the handles

Anna Koffersberg said...

I bet Alexander is a wonderful, sensuous lover. You can tell by the way he writes.

I enjoyed this movie by the way! Terrific review.

Alexander Coleman said...

Thank you, Bob Dylan and Anna, for the... intriguing comments.

The Kid In The Front Row said...

Great write up. I still haven't seen 'Moon,' but am still excited by it despite the very mixed reviews. Like you mention, by concept alone it's a fascinating idea; I'll try ignore your point that it drags later on, and hopefully get away with it :)

king 9k5 said...

Leicester had also shown an interest in signing the Republic of Ireland international, but Eriksson does not led belysning expect the 31-year-old to drop down to the Championship."I saw in the papers that Robbie Keane is going to play with David Beckham," said Eriksson in the Leicester Mercury. "If that is right,red pine oil it is difficult to compete.

Reynard said...

Goodness, there's so much effective info above!
hotels in yountville ca | gold chains for men | ford dealerships in houston tx

Uno said...

appointment time. He has always proved to be serious when I need them to prepare to go out with
accomodation hervey baysecurity bekleidung auf rechnung kaufen

Uno said...

That day, I came to my house in quiet and very soon, as that will surprise you with just bought loaf. My birthday. I was sleeping, I know that.
Chinese Wedding DressWiz Khalifa mixtapes

Uno said...

as time passed. If he woke up, then double time after I'd regained consciousness, I knew that.
set up a swiss companymet vrouwen/, seks met vrouwen

Uno said...

This is the first one hundred and fifteen apartment owners to stock up near the face verbally in great guy handsome man on the
MLS Mississaugaoutdoor bean bags

Uno said...

I must say that this machine is extremely advanced, to the extent no one asked it to produce, but the high quality full stop! To apologize for the money the
Catering Atlantacounselling service for you

Uno said...

I laughed, then put a hand on his shoulder, holding up hand to hand is sandwiched between the two of us. He caught my waist is soothing, gentle and careful as a couple first dance together in the evening.
Voiceoversdoboy flow wrapper

Jarod said...

This will not really have effect, I consider like this.
leather wrap bracelet | sexy aprons | bankruptcy

Uno said...

little laugh too! Well, then pile this concert, he pulled away to make a meal say to remember the new life. Certainly there!
buy replica watchesLady Elliot Island

Uno said...

This week, how many gifts of fans ... all cards have the whole group, from past to now. Why it's so beautiful? Or something more remote, the more
large area rugsarredo bagno

Uno said...

settles down, and the "obnoxious obstacles" that have much more concern. When there will be plenty to fight for Changmin ha. Certain that!
Best Mobile Phonesmobile bagno

Uno said...

extremely excited. In music, the smell of sweat and breathing regularly, he saw in the corner, a boy is jumping.
holiday to antiguaMusic for Documentaries

Uno said...

He did not think I could forget so important. The day before he was dragged to prison and to test it, you just think about how to escape. Results of Yunho did not differ from the results of a question he does.
foundation ventsAuto Warranty Quote

Uno said...

strangely dazzling glare. Things, I think, always shining, even though one does not need any lights. I.
solid shedsAudi AC Compressor

Uno said...

He not only took my hand again. Just look. Simply look, a look deep and haunting vortex. Every night, I dreamed he looked at me, saw me and
barbados holidaysstrengthsfinder test

Uno said...

He's really sick. He stood looking out the glass and seemed to want to vomit place. Grinned his style made ​​him uncomfortable, he is more
tablet androidrechargeable lights

Uno said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Uno said...

Through the wooden door, his voice steady, without the slightest emotion. Sometimes he felt like he was still smiling nhoen while Jaejoong told the story, not even light pink.
cheap wedding ringsCar Warranty

Uno said...

And why ... He hurt his back to this level only a few words? He deserve just as he was the last time the right to stop, so that the words he says are now in deep in his mind now. Maybe ... because he
product reviewssmall house plans

Uno said...

Tomorrow he will visit him as his interrogator. Talk to him through a large glass. Well, he suddenly laughed. Once at home he is not his and he is always talking over the back of this glass. The glass cell is not a one-way glass.
usb-key bedrucktrestaurants en Israël

Uno said...

keep him this artist. How is he ever do us? Mona Lisa like myself. And then the thought, feeling too excited about it, she has nhoen smile. "
opt in leadsalkalizing water

Uno said...

"I'm just not one of his body." - Kuma leaned against the chair and looked at him, clearly says - "Clarification of this No, I is not interrupted before him, thinking he loved Kangta
pull up banner standsfree texting

Uno said...

Evening during the week that he also drove by looking for is "where it". Sure, the cold this winter to find a place like the results is extremely difficult. But he was not afraid. Just cute dolphin is happy his ...
Siesta Key Condo RentalsPhen375

Uno said...

Jung British endurance limit, this is what anyone says. But the important issue here did not mention that. What all this SM is talking to each other is much longer in the UK will really exploded with He. And of
western wedding invitationsstop thinning hair

Uno said...

tragic. Ingestion Australia's another one, Changmin's all pray for the other two instead of the eyes that looked at each other, rather then just yelled at each other a few words for air support is not stressful.
estimating softwarewholesale ladies socks

Uno said...

Changmin Jaejoong surprised by the strange step on the long white ridges, holding jacket Junsu Yoochun wondered that dream or real, who migrated Changmin timidly followed the path of the asteroid. And I forced myself to bury Anaesthetists Jaejoong-foot spot at that time that his son strange aliens, back waiting
raspberry ketoneBest prices of Color doppler Ultrasound scanners

Uno said...

no sound his horn. The silver horn, he is often held in the hearts, lips list, but almost never blow a tune perfectly

custom home plansbuilding customer loyalty

Uno said...

He confirmed again. He softly murky, who moved up windowsill. Leaned against the door, he tried to close his chest, her arms around his legs. He looked at this like a wet cat in the rain No person, his eyes
tarotbreitling replica watches

Uno said...

with his actions just as a reminder of thousands of promises will be made after selling music. He relaxed his clenched fist, stroking her hair and then back out to prepare thick morning.
cursos guionanger management

Uno said...

leaving the peel of oranges are unfinished on the table, mouth grumbled a few words-not to blame. He watched him, shook his head slightly.
productoras cineinsanity

Uno said...

ever worn the silver itself. He was also very similar to the train door - I started thinking, his chest as if something was pressing down firmly.
Daycare Franchisewholesale wedding dresses

Uno said...

vendors also no longer pushed. Large box with canopy spread caviar, red and blue chairs stacked lean, soft drink bottle caps known jingle down the concrete floor, was covered in dust and
cheap tickets to middle eastTalkswitch phone system

Uno said...

looked like colorful sparkling under intense sunlight in the station. Yunho also adding a small lamp that every pedal faster it will light up. Its light is projected onto
MLS.caIgrice

Uno said...

Yoochun I to the U.S. along a week later, not to leave a message for Yunho out tattered yellow hat. I think so on, quietly go the way I walked into his life in the train it would be simpler
hotels in MussoorieFisher Space pens

Uno said...

back at this place one last time. Just as sixteen years ago in Chungcheongnam and two years ago this spot, the autumn sky is blue, the smell of metal
keratin hair treatmentshort wedding dresses

Uno said...

Can I own life to be with him. But I can not just leave that out to parents and their friends. I promise not to do foolish if one day he left me and I is not no promises. I can not deal with his parents who
Baltimore Wedding Limovaporizers

Uno said...

Just his return ... things remain the same .. I guarantee no one will be reminded about it today and he will stay true to the covenant that we have "
keratin hair treatmentCurrys Promotional Codes

Uno said...

into each glass pieces. He runs like an idiot and he found out he was imprisoned when the memory of another family were "borrowed" away.
modular bookcase
pdf split

Uno said...

restroom accessories
Backyard Swing Sets

Many people just quietly watching the fine picture of the nature that let the sigh, real evil prince, only to sacrifice his son to accomplish goals. That purpose whether

Uno said...

Guidance flute sounded upset and offers UAT, the piper sit and watch the moon silver leaf tree, glittering with distant eyes, sad. Her eyes shining reach many sorrows, where everyone just to make others suffer as their happiness.
it support london
les petites annonces gratuites

Uno said...

"Maybe no one's ever told him about our past, right? We also have lived the past along with Black Moon, those days peaceful life without war. We live in peace side by side and as a Bach Quang married to
Orange
Full Software Download

Uno said...

Rain still not accidentally fall off forever. The wind brought cold air blow in porch, blow the bamboo curtain where the window. The wooden wind chimes with the small copper tube drooping collide
electronic signature
bbq catering brisbane

Uno said...

the wander spirit bound into fierce war. Who Will peace return? Who will lie under the blood soaked inch of ground yourself and your teammates?
musical Instruments Denver
cartoon logos

Uno said...

English bowls touched alcohol clack, challenging acclaim and joy, mild language stick drunk guys drunk, music bass guitar scholarship from themselves interwoven with rock, but do not bring a little effortsofas
DKN Vibration

Hals said...

I found this film exceedingly cliched and a big-time bore. I love sci-fi (its one of my favorite genres as it is yours, and over the years I've celebrated THE FOUNTAIN, A.I., and GATTACA among others, not to mention the three you cite, 2001, THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH and SOLARIS) but this fiasco never came together. It was cryptic and muddled, and only Clint Mansell's exquisite score survived the debacle.
lolita dukker
pet crate

dragon Ball

cheap prom dresses said...

I resolutely agree, and much of this seems to dove-tail splendidly with my far less articulate write-up for Slant Magazine. I thought it an oddly "un-Japanese" like film for the country to have nominated to the Oscars, but I think that was part of the point; and certainly Japan has just as much right to be saccharine and histrionic as we do. That having been said, like you I found the subtle symbolism of the encoffinment process itself most rewarding both aesthetically and subtextually -- I like the connection with Monet, too, though I doubt he would have painted a cellist playing passionately against a laughably bucolic backdrop. And the ending, indeed, was far too weepy and clichéd, but in retrospect it's the film's quiet wonders that stay with you, rather than the missteps. Not a bad Father's Day pick at all, and I wish both you and your paterfamilias the best.

Ajay Nguyen said...

great , try out new website about LOL , aim on Penta Kill Band on LOL , inclule Sona , Yorick , Olaf , Karthus etc...
Pentakill Band from League of Legend
From Pentakill Band - Prelude in C minor
Legendary Band - Writting History

Anonymous said...

We apologize again for the inconvenience but do ask that the following comment with spam link to our site be removed. We did not authorize this and are truly sorry that your blog has been inconvenienced. comment is" Uno said... He's really sick. He stood looking out the glass and seemed to want to vomit place. Grinned his style made ​​him uncomfortable, he is more
tablet androidrechargeable lights
January 5, 2012 at 8:41 AM Thank you for your time.