Friday, July 17, 2009

Two Weeks to Go, Sam: "Moon" Is Hands-Down The Best Film of 2009

Being the self-appointed blogger of UVA Law School - and paying the hefty administrative fees of this site - give me a some very limited privileges. One of them is to make passing comments on items of culture from time to time, in the hope that people dropping into freak out about OGI or complain about their grades being four months late might take a look.

Anyway, Duncan Jones' "Moon" [film website] is fantastic. The English language simply lacks the adjectives to fully describe the extent this film tugs at complex emotions and pierces the heart of the modern human condition. Did I cry a little in the film? Yes, of course, you'd be an inhuman monster not to? Did I get a bit a scared and uneasy? Sure, and I am one bad-ass guy. Did it make me reevaluate what was important in my life? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

OK, with that somewhat bizzare introduction, you're probably wondering what, if anything, the film is about. Basically, in the not to distant future humanity is facing an energy crisis: shocking, I know. Anyway, to solve this crisis one company called "Lunar Industries" decides to mine helium-3 on the far side of the moon as a power source - and a very good one at that. The operation is run by a mining bunker located in the "Sarang" area of the moon that is operated by a single employee, Sam Bell (played by Sam Rockwell, the movie's only human character - although there's also robot named "Gerty" voiced by Kevin Spacey who acts as his sole companion). Sam's has signed on with the company operating the mining operation for a three-year contract, and lives in complete solitude. The movie opens with him having only two weeks to go before he heads back to Earth to see his loving wife and child. But as his date of return approaches, his health begins inexplicably to deteriorate . . .

That's about all I'll reveal, because I don't want to spoil the "surprise" of the film. Oh, don't get me wrong - the movie is not one that's driven by plot, although the plot is pretty good, and provides more than a few intense moments here and there (it is categorized as a "Sci-Fi Thriller", after all - and has the true horror of Sam Bell's situation is slowly revealed you can't help but become a little bit uneasy about the whole thing).

Rather, the brilliance of the film comes in the meticulous and believable setting (for some reasons that elude as a write this, Jones's depiction of a moon base and the lunar landscape that surrounds seems creepily real - you feel like it's some model that NASA cooked up or something except that it's too detailed - and yet at the same time it really does seem like somebody has been living there for the past three years) and the versimilitude it brings to the alienation from modern life that we've all experience at one point or another.

To prove my point entirely I'd again have to reveal too much, of course, so I'll just say this: Everything about Sam Bell living alone one the moon waiting desperately to see the people (he thinks) he loves while slowly beginning to question his own identity and significance in the world at large applies to ourselves, at least to some extent. The juxatoposition of supreme natural beauty (the moon) with a monster of modernity (the lunar base) will make you wonder if isolation and anxiety is party of the human condition, or just something we picked up a long way.

To wit, here's how Duncan Jones describes the film:
MOON is a story full of paradoxes. It’s an intimate character portrayal in a starkly impersonal outer- space setting; a three-man drama with just a single actor visible onscreen; and a futuristic vision that harkens back to classic sci-fi, but also looks a lot like utilitarian heavy industry as we know it.
That should be enough to hook you, really. Jones also pays homage to a lot of classic sci-films; in fact, you might look at the entire thing as a reboot of 2001: A Space Odyssey. (Disclaimer: this film is a lot more about character and the individual human condition than 2001 was, and isn't a sweeping origin storty.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the soundtrack as well. It's got this eerie sort of vibe to it where just a listen to a few of notes evokes a profound sense of modern lonliness. It stuck in my head so much that I had to watch the trailer the day after I first saw the film a few times just to experience the eerie tones a few more times.

I don't know, the film is not for everyone. Only if you've ever felt alienated from modern society, profoundly alone, been in love, or like running on treadmills without shaving. Seriously, just go see it already, you won't be sorry. I promise. See in theaters if you can to get the most out of the well-crafted set. And to prepare for the sequels, which Mr. Jones - who, as I will now at the end dutifully mention is David Bowie's son - has said are forthcoming . . .

Here's the trailer - some spoilers, but what can you do:

. . . and speaking of the future . . . I can't log into LawReg.


Anonymous said...

I realize this has nothing to do with this post. For that I apologize.

I am writing to express my exasperation with Lawreg and with course selection in general. This process is always absurdly error-filled, never more than this summer.

I'm sure this summer has been rough for a lot of us. Some of us have not been fortunate enough to get the work we wanted, or any work at all. Others are at firms where they knwo they will not get offers, others are working hard at their firms, afriad no offer will come.

One of the few things our school could do to help wiht that (aside from career services) is make course selection a smooth process. Instead, there have been even more than the usual problems. Now we have 9 hours to recheck course capacities and relist our preferences, as they have finally fixed everything (if they actually have, which we have no good reason to believe).

I guess I am just venting. I don't understand why this process never goes right. Other law schools do not seem to have the problems we do when it comes to choosing classes. That's enough from me.

justincredible said...

"moon" was as good as advertised. best movie i've seen in a long time.

Anonymous said...

moon was ok. not nearly deserving of breathless review it got here.

hands down best of 09? pshaw. that distinction goes to 'the hurt locker.'

t-pain said...

The over-all design is a clear homage to "2001: A Space Odyssey," not just in the soothing tones of th eonboard computer, but also in a willingness to disengage from teh mechanism of plot and turn instead, as Kubrick did to the vaporous metaphysics of the otherworldly. Jones, like his hero, has mastered a complex task -- but the story he has to tell is lost in space.

t-pain said...

agree with anonymous that our lawreg is some bootleg shit. however, anonymous is a loserdouche.

Anonymous said...

T-Pain - Its "the" not "teh"

justincredible said...

t-pain apparently forgot to put "" around the movie review he bootlegged from the new yorker.

copyright? that's a copywrong.