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The Power Of Desolation

Oct 27, 2009

I think I mentioned recently that I have removed the 'Last Saturday Movie Reviews' from the site. It's not that I don't have a lot of reviews already in the can, it was more that eventually I'd run out and there just aren't that many movies lately that I've felt the need to review.

There are always exceptions, however, and recently I got a chance to see a really beautiful little movie called Moon. To give the briefest of summaries, it's a film about a near future where mankind mines the moon for energy. On the moon, a solitary operator keeps things going for 3 year stints before going back home to Earth. Sam Rockwell stars as Sam Bell, who is a mere 2 weeks from going back to his wife child and is beginning to feel the weight of his isolated stay so far. The story really picks up when Sam has an accident out on the surface, then finds himself back in the infirmary with no idea how he got there.

I won't go into more detail so that you can experience the story on your own, but beyond the plot points is the real heart of the film. What this movie is really about is our existence as people, and what tethers you to our humanity. One of the great things the movie does is play with our conceptions of what makes a person.

Good example of this GERTY, the A.I. that operates the base with Sam and is charged with his safety. In the extremely minimal cast of the film, GERTY gradually becomes another person, as much a character who we connect to as Sam. The amazing part of this is that GERTY is quite clearly NOT a person. He is designed as a throwback to the older 70's conception of a robot, big and blocky with hardly any ability to convey expression besides a simplistic LCD that shows a few smiley or frowny faces. Even as this very simplistic automaton we begin to regard him as another being in the space with Sam. Unlike, say, R2-D2, who has some quirky mannerisms that evoke a child but never seems anything BUT a robot, GERTY evolves into a true presence. As the film progresses, you'll start to sense real motive behind his actions, something that seems a simple accomplishment but really isn't for a non-human entity.

Beyond GERTY, Sam Rockwell does an astounding job in a movie that really demands he act with himself most of the time. There are long periods of complete lack of interaction, like the movie Cast Away, where the actor must fill every inch of the frame with himself. We luck out in that Rockwell manages it very well, and portrays the struggle of man trying to keep his grip with true realism.

None of this would work, in my view, without the stunningly sparse score provided by Clint Mansell. The music works with the film in laying out the vast emptiness of the moon, yet still manages to punctuate the often intense moments that come in Sam's story. I ordered the soundtrack almost immediately after the movie ended.

In the end, this movie is very simple but deeply moving. It's a great examination of the human spirit, and for fans of films like 2001 or Logan's Run, it will provide a welcome break from the usually special effects heavy but thematically light sci-fi fare that has become the norm.

nine and a half years ago

I really want to see the movie \"Moon\" as it was compared to the classic \'Silent Running\" but unfortunately it has a limited release here in Australia. The cinemas it is showing at (Only two independent cinemas in Sydney are showing it according to the internet) are basically inaccessible to me. So of course if i want to see it I will have to resort to piracy and watch the leaked workprint depriving all involved in the movie my admission fee. I know its no excuse but i am not going to wait till it comes out on DVD and buy it... So while the big cinema chains show crap like Couples Retreat, All About Steve, whip it etc, they don’t show small great releases like Moon...Arrrggg!~

nine and a half years ago

I\'ll tell you Carl, in cases like that I\'m all for piracy. If your intent really is to buy the DVD, and you will once you see the movie, then why should you not have the ability to see it? It\'s not a case where it\'s readily available and you\'re choosing not to see it, it\'s almost being withheld. This is one of my issues with laws against downloading, there\'s no consideration of accessibility involved. However you end up seeing it, I\'m sure you\'ll enjoy it. We need more sci-fi like this.

Dave (UK)
nine and a half years ago

Yup, I have to say the concept of this film has me quite up for watching it. It\'s \"on the list\" so-to-speak.

Never saw castaway but it\'s usually a pleasant change when a film doesn\'t rely on excessive dialogue or blowing shit up to make a point.

While we\'re lauding classic sci-fi such as Silent Running (the only movie where I cried at the death of a machine) you can\'t go wrong with Dark Star. A farcical tale but a classic nevertheless.