Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Moon (2009)

Why: Filmspotting's 2009 Golden Brick winner/ expiring from my NetFlix instant queue. Plus it's a drama on the moon that has some science basis to it. I mean, come on!

On: NetFlix streaming.

David Bowie's son, Duncan Jones, is the writer and director of this neat little sci-fi psychological thriller. Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is the sole employee at a moonbase that oversees the harvesting, conversion and export of a new energy source contained in the rocks of the moon. He is nearing the end of his three-year contract when things start to happen. Hallucinations and medical problems are compounded when another version of himself appears, calling his sanity and his existence into question.

Oh, man, do I have a problem. I love film. I love the whole experience. I love re-creating the experience and sharing it with people I care about. But I don't get to do it as much as I used to. I'm not pointing any fingers, it's just a fact. I still like to keep plugged in, though. And therein lies my problem.

This "plugging in" features the upside of remaining current on things cinematic, but the downside is that sometimes things will build in my imagination further than they're meant to go. And I found that this year, catching up on some of the Oscar nominees that had made it to DVD. ANIMAL KINGDOM, WINTER'S BONE, THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT were all fine, good even. But by the time they had been nominated, I was expecting much more than they could deliver. And maybe that's the case with all such things. Once a certain amount of praise gets heaped on a work, the expectation of its quality goes up, creating a greater opportunity for disappointment, whereas a film with no approbation from respected critics might have lower expectations and a greater chance for a surprisingly pleasant experience. Or maybe my reaction wouldn't have been any different, but it makes you think.

In correlation, the films that were my favorite from last year - INCEPTION, THE SOCIAL NETWORK, TOY STORY 3, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON - I got to see them all in the theater. Now, were the experiences enhanced by the theatrical atmosphere? Or were they films that I was attracted to in the first place, and thus films I was more likely to enjoy, and made the extra effort to see them in their best possible light?

Well, the same is true for MOON, which has been much-talked-about on Filmspotting, one of my favorite podcasts. It even won the sole award they give out, a self-congratulatory title they bestow on a film people went to see based on their recommendation. And while it was good - I think the set design and photography are beautiful, and Sam Rockwell gives a really nice performance (or two), and I really dig the concept - it didn't quite live up to the build-up of the last 18 months. The film is short at 97 minutes, but there were still sections that seemed long. And I get that it underscores Sam's isolation, I do, but I don't think it's that difficult a concept to get. Perhaps this review should stop before it gets too far along, as everything I feel like saying will simply have a "but" attached. The fact is the film is good. I would recommend it, depending on the audience. It's just that that's all there is.

NetFlix rating: ***

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