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Monday, August 9, 2010

Moon: You Saw Me Standing Alone

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Duncan Jones nostalgic sci-fi space romp, Moon, is a mostly well known film in certain circles, with those circles mainly consisting of people who are passionate fans of cinema in one form or another. Outside of those too cool for film-school film fans, Moon is not a recognizable name (unless you're talking New Moon, of course), and the general public has little to no clue about the movie. At least that is what I assume but my assumption is more than likely spot on.

moon3That alone somewhat speaks for how the film was completely neglected by the Academy this year - in a ceremony that applauded moon5ten films instead of five - so they could make room for movies more along the lines of the summer blockbuster. Or, to put it in simpler moon8terms, make room for films that the general public know about, thus, drumming up better ratings from the "average person." Basically, popularity over substance becomes even more prevalent.

Most passionate film buffs that have seen Moon have applauded actor Sam Rockwells' performance as Sam Bell, often saying he was criminally snubbed by the Academy. After finally seeing the film for myself - with abnormal expectations mind you - I could not agree any more. Rockwell's performance is a multilayered one, and his range makes him more than capable of pulling off such a complex and well written character. If he couldn't, the film would falter greatly.

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Sam Bell is a character that faces tough questions about his actual being and is forced to do so with only himself to try and answer them. He is incredibly sad in many ways, and the bleakness that comes from ones questioning of their own existence when one lacks that existence is more than simple food for thought. However, the average moviegoer would prefer comfort food as opposed to something made with a complex recipe and foreign ingredients. Not that there's anything wrong with a little comfort food, but a good and healthy diet it certainly does not make when that is all that one consumes.

moon7Robbed of an Oscar nod, sure, but Rockwell is not the only crater on Moon's surface that was more than deserving of some golden moon9love, and I'm not talking about the R. Kelley kind. Moon is astonishingly made on every technical level with an eye pleasing 'aged moon10future' set design that harkened back to the Science Fiction cinema of yore – the smooth and engulfing emptiness that is captured by the film's DP, Gary Shaw, is top notch – and the story, originally written by Jones, has the capability to rope in the viewer, giving just enough slack so that the narrative remains captivating until the film's reveal and ultimate conclusion. And all of these things were achieved with a $5 million dollar budget?! Wow, who would have thought that a wonderful film could be made for less than $50 million dollars. But it wasn't about the money (what?!), instead, it was about using the muscle in most everyone's head (neglected or not), the brain, to transcend budgetary restraints.

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If you ask me, and you did by reading this, Moon - based off the other films that I have seen that also were awarded the prestige of being recognized by the Academy - was deserving of a Best Cinematography, Art Direction, Director and Picture nomination. Shit, the very subdued but powerful score by Clint Mansell may even be worth at least a thought for Best Score. Getting back to the "big award," though, I just don't understand how with ten spots for Best Picture, there is no room for a film like Moon? I mean, it was smile inducing to see District 9 on there - it was a great movie, and I, as most were, was surprised by the nod it received for best picture. But was it better than Moon? Not at all.

The general audience might not get it and while that can be frustrating since it is they that determine what the Hollywood machine cranks out…they don't know any better. They are mindless cattle that would rather go and see a film to have something to do, like text and giggle at shit on the screen. On the other hand, the Academy of ARTS and SCIENCE, a group that is meant to honor the BEST that cinema has to offer, most certainly should know better. Shame on them for ignoring such a fantastic film, but kudos to Duncan Jones for making one.

15 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree with you more, Matt - I loved this film and thought it was one of the very best of last year. I did my own review of it, and even wrote about it on The Vault of Horror this week. It made such an impression on me, and it was certainly robbed of more than one Oscar.

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  2. Ha, I hadn't read the newest Lucky 13, so that's pretty awesome that you wrote about it so recently. I will certainly be checking that out asap. I really enjoyed it and since my first viewing (I wrote this like a month or two ago) I have been itching to see it again. That is a true tell of a great movie, if it can stick with me well beyond my first viewing. I really need to pick it up on DVD very soon.

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  3. Moon is a thoughtful movie through and through. From use of its budget to its human themes. I loved it.

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  4. Sam Rockwell absolutely deserved to be nominated. And this was, for my money, the best genre film of 2009.

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  5. The whole Oscar thing last year made me sad, but it's not a measure of how good someone is. It means nothing to win one anymore, and at least WTP know how awesome Sam Rockwell is.

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  6. I love MOON! I was not a Sam Rockwell fan at all until I saw this movie. Going into it, I thought "Sam Rockwell alone in space... how boring". Needless to say it rocked my socks. Total eye candy with a great story to boot.

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  7. Stellar review, Matt. It was nothing that I expected and surprised the hell out of me. I rented it, watched it, returned it, and purchased it. That's how much I was impressed with it and recently has become one of my all-time favs. Very non-traditional story and structure for the usual Hollywood formula but that is a major reason for liking it. I try to recommend this one to every one I speak seriously about movies with because they are really missing out if they do not see this film. Blows my mind how this one got left in the cold for Academy Awards time. Especially for Rockwell. Sure I liked him and all from some of his prior roles, but put him on a way higher peddle stool after I watched Moon.

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  8. Really awesome review Matt and your gripes are well founded and well pointed. Good stuff hombre.

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  9. Zed: You're very right about it being thoughtful, and there is that certain sadness to the character of Sam that really makes the film as emotionally strong as it is.

    B-Sol: It would certainly be in my overall top ten of last year, maybe even top five, but I do think last year was a great year for movies period. Actually, it was a great year for genre films too, which has not so much been the case this year.

    Simon: And that is what it comes down to...the right people will appreciate the film and his performance is really all that maters. Still, it stings and pisses me off regardless. I wonder how the film will be looked at in ten years from now.

    Aaron: I was actually afraid it would be boring too, even after hearing such good things, but it is quite engaging. I really was wondering just what was going on and the reveal of what was happening to Sam was satisfying and pretty powerful on a human level too. As for Rockwell, I wasn't all that familiar with him beforehand, but I am definitely a fan now.

    Geof: I think the only people that will actually appreciate it are people that are serious about their cinema. Moon certainly goes against the Hollywood grain and if it were up to Hollywood, there would have been a monster or someone with a gun or maybe some tits involved. All shit I like, but not in a film like Moon.

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  10. POT: Thanks brother! It's funny that I took all these notes for the film and barely even talked about it, it just kind of became a bitch-fest, but a well deserved one!

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  11. Great review Matt, and the fact that it has popped up now, over a year after theatrical release shows just how enduring MOON is, people are still finding it on home release / netflix etc and talking about it, and will do for many years to come.

    Thanks for spreading the word to your readers :)

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  12. Thanks a bunch, Rupert! Glad you dug the review and I am sure the quality of Moon will make it a classic by mainstream standards in the years to come.

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  13. Agree whole-heartedly. This film blew me away in every way. Rockwell has been snubbed more than once. Wild Bill anyone?

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  14. This film was so great, and so realistic looking. I don't know how they got this film to look the way it does, but it looks perfect.

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  15. Angie: Yeah, Rockwell is certainly on my radar as an actor after seeing Moon. It takes a lot to be able to hold a film together when you have yourself and a robot to work off of.

    CMrok93: Moon truly is a testament as to what can be done with simple and classic techniques. CGI certainly serves its purpose, but it will never look as real as what was achieved with real life materials like what was used in Moon.

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