Monday, April 20, 2009

A visit to the "Moon" with Sam Rockwell

Is there really any chance that "Chuck" is on the cancellation bubble? Even if one of every four or five people in the world (or at least California) is a Fulcrum agent, it's still just about the funniest and smartest thing on TV now, so here's hoping the Hollywood Reporter story listing it as only 50-50 to return isn't the beginning of the end. ("Dollhouse" is on the list too, but even though that show has gotten remarkably better through the weeks, it wouldn't surprise me to see it end.)

The thing that would really kill me is that if "Chuck" does die, it will be at the hands of that dastardly Jay Leno (no, I'm not a fan), who is getting five hours of primetime space a week and taking it directly from both more and less worthy shows.

Oh well. I don't really have any power over that, so instead I'd like to talk about some things I saw at the Atlanta Film Festival 365, which is continuing through Saturday at the fabulous Landmark Midtown Art Cinema in, of course, Atlanta. For the schedule and how to get tickets for movies (including "500 Days of Summer" tomorrow night), click here.

I saw seven movies in three days (well, eight, but I paid for the first one, "Sin Nombre," because I was just dying to see that ... yes it's a disease), and I'd like to start today with Duncan Jones' "Moon," the one most likely to play anywhere near people who might read this site when it opens in limited release June 12.

First, I suppose, a bit about what it's about. Sam Rockwell (and you'll see A WHOLE LOT of him) stars as a man who lives alone on a remote lunar outpost where he harvests helium, which has become our primary energy source.

And before I get to the good stuff, of which there's quite a bit, a word about the movie's limitations is in order. First, the plot is simply wafer thin. You won't hear any more about it from me, but you'll probably figure it out extremely early, and if not it's revealed about halfway in anyway.

But like any great science fiction, which Duncan Jones' film almost manages to be, it's much more about the allegory than the principal story, and in that department it's the best example yet of capturing the "zeitgeist" (man, do I hate that word, so I apologize) of our troubled times. I'll just say that for anyone (like me) who toils in an industry in which uncertainly looms everyday, what the story by Jones and screenwriter Nathan Parker has to say about the expendability of human life will definitely hit home.

Now, I didn't bother to see "Castaway" because I was just certain I couldn't take that much Tom Hanks (and I've never had any regrets about missing it), so I really have nothing to compare to exactly how well Sam Rockwell carried this movie. As you can probably tell from the storyline, he's in just about every frame of this movie, with only brief interruptions from his wife via satellite and the input of his helpful station computer Gerty, voiced in comforting monotone by Kevin Spacey (and yes, it bothered me at first that this was a direct ripoff of Hal, but two thoughts: First, who the heck else was he supposed to talk to out there, and second, the way the computer plays into the story just gives it more power.)

But back to Mr. Rockwell. I've always liked him quite a bit, but worried that seeing that much of him would grow old pretty quickly. Wrong. As he slowly deteriorates both mentally and physically, I can guarantee you will be riveted, and his reaction to everything that happens is natural and believable in what turns into a pretty intense psychological profile.

The remote moonscape is also beautifully filmed and plays into the theme of isolation perfectly. And if you'll excuse me, I have to cut this off rather abruptly and get ready for work, so I'll leave you with just one more odd thought: Duncan Jones is the son of David Bowie. Hopefully that and the fact that this is being distributed by Sony Pictures Classics will get it a pretty wide run in June, because I certainly wouldn't mind seeing it again. Peace out.


Cullen said...

Moon sounds great. How does is compare to Silent Running?

Cullen said...

It. dammit.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm afraid I can't answer that one Cullen, not because I don't want to, but simply because I never got to see that one .. I am, however, going to see if it ever came out on DVD and, if so, can I add it to my Netflix list

Sachin said...

I seriously hope that is not true about Chuck as it is one of those tv shows that I enjoy quite a bit. Along with Reaper, I think it is funny and quite entertaining, even though I have had to stop telling questioning how Chuck's database is so up to date regarding details of new and active agents :) In one or two episodes, he did get a new upgrade of his internal computer via another quick flash but still..overall, just a bunch of good actors with nice roles and characters sketched out.

Reel Fanatic said...

Sorry to be the bearer of possible bad news, Sachin, but "Reaper" was on the HR's 50-50 list too, so here's hoping that one survives too

Cullen said...

You've got to see Silent Running, Keith! It was the very first thing that popped in my head when I saw the pic of Rockwell at the beginning of the post. I used to have a recorded copy on VHS many moons ago.

I like Reaper, but I don't feel as attached to it as I do Chuck. Reaper takes too much of its premise from both Brimstone and G vs. E (both shows that ended well before their time).

Cullen said...

Keith, just checked, Silent Running is on Netflix and offered with the "Watch Instantly" feature (LOVE THAT SERVICE!).

Reel Fanatic said...

I like that watch instantly feature too, so I'll certainly check it out that way ... In my snail mail Netflix, I'm awating the second season of the British series "Skins," which is the absolute definition of a guilty pleasure

Bob said...

Sweet! Now I'm even more excited to see "Moon." I for one feel that a movie can never have too much Sam Rockwell content so I'm uber-excited.

If NBC cancels "Chuck"...I will not be happy. For my money it's the second best show out there (after "Mad Men").
Also, we got Verizon Fios this weekend and I started watching "Party Down" on On Demand. Really hilarious show. You can tell it's Rob Thomas because every episode has at least three guest stars who appeared at one time or another on "Veronica Mars." Not to mention almost the entire main cast was on "VM" at least once (except maybe Martin Starr and the extremely cute Lizzy Caplan). Check it out if you get the chance.

Mercurie said...

Am I the only one who think the whole Jay Leno thing is a bad idea? I mean, Jay is great in late night. I can't help but think in prime time he'll be beaten by whatever is on ABC or CBS. And at what cost? Granted NBC hasn't had too many good hour long shows lately (Chuck is an exception to the rule), but I don't think they should ditch the format entirely!

Reel Fanatic said...

I won't start rooting against NBC until they cancel Chuck, Mercurie, but if they do they will they have nothing but enmity ... I'm hoping against hope that the Jay Leno thing fails, but I'm afraid it's gonna be a success ... five minutes or so of Jay Leno is already overkill to me, so five nights a week would just be bloody murder ... As for Chuck, tonight's episode was pure magic, but it sure felt like they were wrapping everything up .. Here's hoping that next week opens a whole new, season's worth can of worms

And I have only managed to see two episodes of "Party Down" so far, Bob, but I love what I've seen too ... Seeing Veronica's dad (forgive me, but I can't remember his name) in the first episode was enough to get me hooked, so I hope I can get to see a lot more soon