Movie Man: Actor Sam Rockwell stellar in eerie 'Moon'
“Moon” isn’t a brand-new movie, but it is a very good movie, and it didn’t get nearly the attention it deserved when it arrived on DVD a couple of months ago. I’m here to fix that.
Set in the future, “Moon” focuses on Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), a worker nearing the end of his three-year stint on the lunar surface. All alone up there, Sam keeps an eye on the mining equipment and, every so often, launches another load of “Helium 3” back to Earth. (As the infomercial that starts the movie informs us, Helium 3 has solved the Earth’s energy crisis — and then some.) The monotony of Sam’s work, coupled with the overwhelming loneliness, is beginning to wear on the poor guy. With his only companion being the station’s computer, GERTY (voiced, in a stroke of brilliance, by Kevin Spacey), it’s no wonder Sam goes a little crazy.
So with only two weeks to go before he returns to Earth and his wife and daughter (whom we glimpse in recorded messages sent to him), Sam is driving out to one of the giant mining machines when he sees — or thinks he sees — a woman outside the vehicle. He crashes. He’s hurt. All alone on the moon, things look pretty hopeless. And then …
Well, that’s all I’m going to tell you. “Moon” has some big surprises in store, both for Sam and the audience, and it would be a shame to spoil them here. All I’ll say is that, as strange as things get — and they get plenty strange — everything all makes perfect sense. “Moon” is a real science-fiction movie in that it uses scientific ideas to inspire a fictional story. (I mean, I love “Star Wars,” but there’s not one iota of actual science in that entire series.) It’s a smart, thoughtful, surprisingly emotional movie about a guy discovering his place in the universe, then deciding he needs to change exactly what that place is.
Rockwell, one of the best actors working today, is just about the whole show here. Aside from Spacey’s voice and a few moments of other actors, “Moon” is all Sam. Sam being bored, Sam being scared, Sam being angry, Sam being sad, and Sam being brave. It’s a heck of a performance, and if there were any justice in movieland (spoiler alert: There’s not!), Rockwell would’ve been up for an Oscar.
You might not have heard of the director and co-writer of “Moon,” Duncan Jones, but you’ve definitely heard of his dad — David Bowie. Somehow, it’s fitting that the son of a guy who became famous singing about ground control and Major Tom should deliver such a smart and spooky science-fiction story.
ContactWill Pfeiferat email@example.com or 815-987-1244. Read his blog at blogs.e-rockford.com/movie man/.
FIRE AT WILL
Can anyone find 'Little Boy Lost'?
Roberta Wenger of Pecatonica remembers a movie about a soldier who fell in love while in France during World War II. He and the woman had a child, but the soldier was sent home, and when the mother died, the child was sent to an orphanage. The soldier then returned to France looking for the child. “I think the movie was called ‘Little Boy Lost,’ ” Roberta writes, “ and I believe the soldier was played by Bing Crosby in a nonsinging role. I’d love to see it again on DVD or videotape. Any chance it is available?”
Roberta, your memory is excellent. That 1953 movie is indeed called “Little Boy Lost,” and it does star Bing Crosby, who played a war correspondent. Unfortunately, it’s not available on DVD or videotape. Sorry.
Got a movie question? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org, and put “Fire at Will” in the subject line. Include full name, city and daytime phone number (which isn’t for publication).
FROM THE VAULT
Four more smart sci-fi movies
“2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) The legendary Stanley Kubrick directed this classic that might be smarter than anyone in the audience. Beginning at the dawn of man and ending when humans are set to make the next evolutionary leap, it’s a visually stunning, utterly confusing, surprisingly entertaining mind trip.
“The Truman Show” (1998) Released just before reality TV really took off, this Peter Weir movie imagines a media star (Jim Carrey) whose entire life has been broadcast to a global audience. Where the movie really succeeds is in its vision of the world outside the show, with obsessed fans, frantic control rooms and bars devoted to watching the most popular program in the world.
“Blade Runner” (1982) What looks like a futuristic shoot-em-up turns into a film noir where the hero and villain eventually swap roles. The amazing vision of Los Angeles in 2019 is what first grabs your attention, but the somber mood and intriguing characters are what keep you emotionally involved.
“Gattaca” (1997) If you could guarantee your child would be healthy, smart and strong, wouldn’t you? That’s the premise of this low-key drama set in a future where genetically tweaked humans have all the advantages over their human-born brethren. There’s a great turn from a young Jude Law, and the surprise ending comes down to one small gesture of compassion.
— Will Pfeifer
Make room in your collection
Some new DVDs out Tuesday:
“Brief Encounter” — Classic British love story about a relationship that develops between a married doctor and a housewife during their meetings at a train station.
“Dallas” — The Complete Thirteenth Season”: It’s hard to believe that people kept falling for J.R.
Ewing’s evil schemes for so many seasons. Didn’t they ever catch on?
“Dora the Explorer: Explore the Earth” — If you’re a kid, the release of a new “Dora” DVD is good news. If you’re a parent, your response might be different.
“Nightmare on Elm Street Collection” — Eight movies for less than $40 is a pretty good deal, even if most of them aren’t actually that good. But there’s a new “Nightmare” headed to theaters, so this quick cash-in makes perfect financial sense.
“Pirate Radio”— Great cast (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Nick Frost, Kenneth Branagh). Intriguing premise (ship blasting rock ‘n’ roll off the coast of 1960s England). Solid director (Richard Curtis, who helmed “Love, Actually.”) So what the heck happened here?
Jason Castro, “Jason Castro” — Think up a more imaginative title for your next album, Jason.
Tom Lehrer, “The Tom Lehrer Collection” — Decades ago, math professor Tom Lehrer released dozens of songs filled with cutting-edge satire. They still sound pretty good today.
Natalie Merchant, “Leave Your Sleep” — If Natalie Merchant is releasing solo albums, what are the other 9,999 Maniacs up to?
AC/DC, “Iron Man 2” — It might look like your run-of-the-mill movie soundtrack, but it’s really an AC/DC greatest hits disc. Not that that’s a bad thing.
Tallest Man on Earth, “Wild Hunt”— Consumer alert: This album is not by Robert Wadlow of Alton, Ill., who holds the world’s record for height at 8 feet, 11 inches.
— Will Pfeifer