Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Moon - Where No One Can Hear You Sigh

It's here! It's finally opened! No, not 'Potter'. 'Moon'! I've been waiting for this for quite a while since the first whispers started. A taste of all things past (bits of '2001: A Space Odyssey', 'Solaris', 'Silent Running', etc.) with a twist, or so they said. All the quiet hype (!) has been helped immeasureably by the fact that you can't really tell too much about the plot without giving stuff away. So I had a sneaking worry I might be disappointed. I wasn't.
Sam Rockwell plays a man working on the dark side of the moon (where else?), running a mining operation upon which most of the world's energy demands depends. After three years, his contract, with Lunar Industries, is coming to its close, and that's just as well, as the isolation is getting to him. That's really all you need to know except that all those previous film references - everything from the aforementioned classics to Sean Connery vehicles like 'Outland' - play their parts in what is ultimately a simple tale. Yes, it's fun spotting that bit and that bit, but the film has to say something for itself too. Thankfully Duncan Jones, director, is as interested in questions of humanity as he is in constructing a neat little story, and ultimately this is what raises the film above the average.
I can't help but point out that "Moon"'s ideas are not original and are just as integral to far older films (and books). How it deals with them isn't too original either, certainly not for anyone familiar with the works of Philip K. Dick. In fact, there are probably several directions that the film could have taken that would have added far deeper resonances. Still it is a joy to have a movie that doesn't tell the audience everything at once, that instead allows the audience the opportunity to think while they are being entertained. As it is there are at least two major plot points that are not explicitly explained (though again anyone familiar with 'Blade Runner' will have the answer to at least one of them). And if you really wanted to be picky you could dispute the whole premise.
I don't have the heart to be picky. On top of everything else, it looks, sounds and breathes perfectly. The model work (little or no CGI here) cries out to be loved, the lunarscapes somehow looking as fresh as they've ever done. For such an airless environment, composer Clint Mansell ('Requiem for a Dream') delivers an appropriately minimalist score. And then Sam Rockwell, who was pretty (let's be generous) 'average' in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (as Zaphod Beeblebrox), is exceptional here. He has a pretty tough job to pull off; besides being onscreen almost the whole time, the demands of the storyline require some nuanced acting (you'll know what I mean if you see it). He delivers.
'Moon' is no heavyweight; it isn't an epic masterpiece a la 'Solaris' (Tarkovsky's version, not Soderbergh's). And just in case you haven't been reading, we have seen a lot of this done before. However, to bring it all together and lovingly wrap it up in a satisfying narrative for our delectation, is like a love letter to the cinema-going public. Having had Hollywood flush its toilets on to our eyes for so long, such consideration is a surprise. I for one was touched.

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