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Review

Harry looks up at the MOON and wonders if it will save us!

This year's SXSW is loaded with high quality films that many of you will want to immediately write down as something to seek out when the opportunity arises. MOON is one of those that you should immediately take note of. This is the first feature film of David Bowie's son, Duncan Jones. Duncan's first feature is not a vehicle for his father, but as I watched it - there was a part of me that thought about how had this film been made in the Seventies, Bowie could have very well found himself playing the lead character... which in our age is being played by Sam Rockwell. MOON premiered at SUNDANCE where the buzz wasn't necessarily stellar, something that often time occurs in a festival that has become increasingly concerned less with talking about the quality of the films, their ability to entertain and make people think... and has instead drifted into a realm of comparative commerce. Which film could play to the most people? An attitude that often means that a genuine jewel like MOON can slip one by. Luckily, Sony Pictures Classics looked closer and MOON and found it quite worthy of acquisition... and have brought it to SXSW to reposition the film. They had an advanced screening for local critics a week or so back - and I was lucky enough to attend. I found MOON to be a fantastic tonal combination of films I love like SILENT RUNNING and OUTLAND. The film isn't reliant on CG for its effects, but the old school world of Models - and GOD BLESS THEM! This film looks fantastic. What is MOON about? Well, it's about a man named Sam Bell - played by Sam Rockwell. Sam is a lunar miner working in a fairly automated mining effort on the moon. It seems that science, when faced with the energy crisis that had hit Earth in the latter part of the 20th Century and threatened to derail society at the head of the 21st Century... well Science struck gold with a substance known as HELIUM 3 aka H3 - which can be mined remotely on the surface of the moon. This substance is extremely powerful and creates a peaceful prospering utopia on Earth. But poor ol Sam Bell, he's a guy stuck on the Moon in a 3 year contract mining to provide power for the whole of humanity. And he's all alone. The corporation that placed him there hasn't even fixed the Relay Communication satellite that would help with Real Time Communication, so now - he gets essentially Video Emails. Now Sam isn't quite alone on this Mining base, he has the company of the Robot/Computer system that is programmed to assist Sam and help him in his endeavors on the Moon. This Automated Helper is voiced by Kevin Spacey. I know - I had the same reaction. WHO IN FUCK'S SAKE WOULD HAVE SPACEY VOICE AN ALLEGEDLY BENEVOLENT ARTIFICIALLY INTELLIGENT BEING? Spacey's voice gives me a wicked case of Heebie Jeebies - and the mere fact that it was Spacey made me constantly doubting the AI's true purpose. It is all Kubrick's fault really. Bastard made me cynical about all artificial intelligence's true nature. Here, you'll wonder again and be delighted at the story's choices. Suffice to say, something goes terribly wrong just a short time before Sam is supposed to head back to Earth and things get incredibly fucked up. The classic staples of paranoid Science Fiction are all in place. Doubt Reality, Question Perceptions and Authority - and lastly... FUCK CORPORATIONS! They definitely do not have an individual's best interests at heart. Everyone at this early screening loved the film. Rockwell carries this film on his shoulders - and Duncan Jones does a superb job of balancing this updating of the 70s Science Fiction aesthetic for a modern age. If you're in town for SXSW, do not hesitate to line up for this one, it is extremely worthy!

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