8 or 9 years ago, Roman Coppola directed his first (and as it turns out mercifully, last) film: CQ, a piece of absolute rubbish that only a true art-fraudster film turd could love. It was an unmitigated jumble of incomplete ideas tossed into an incoherent cinematic stew that tasted like a big bowl of pretension. Based solely on the interminable half hour I spent watching the junior Coppola's ode to self-expression, I concluded that he was a self-absorbed git who got a movie made because of who his daddy was. Nepotism never had a better poster-child.
Enter Duncan Jones (the bastard seed of Iggy Stardust, and whose time it was to leave the capsule - if he dared - and really make the grade) with his first (and hopefully, not last) film: Moon. Jones steps through the door, floats in a most peculiar way and delivers a film that makes the "stars" look very different today.
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do
Watching Moon is an intensely atmospheric and authentic film experience. It's substantive and substantial, thoughtful and thought-provoking, and invites real queries of genuine depth about what it is to be human without pretending that simple answers exist to complex questions. Jones has assembled an outstanding first feature film that is both provocative and contemplative without being preachy or self-indulgent. All that glowing praise of Jones' balanced writing and assured direction notwithstanding, Moon might not have been as successful had it not included a jaw-dropping, tour-de-force performance by Sam Rockwell, who is the heart and soul (and heart and soul) of this film. Consider him robbed of a richly-deserved Best Actor Oscar if he doesn't get the nod. Actually, he should get two Oscars....which will make more sense once you've seen the film.
A final comment/shout out to those responsible for the “look” of Moon, the miniatures and special effects are at once familiar and fresh. The production sports a 1968 2001 meets 1975 Space 1999 look that is integral to the mood of the 2009 film, but doesn't get in the way of the 2029 story. Moon is also an inverted, reversed and refocused simplification of George Lucas' Star Wars Looniverse, a welcome and long overdue reimagining of what science fiction can be. What struck me as I thought back on the film was just how little it felt like a sci-fi. Moon is very-nearly-perfect character piece that presents complex material in a naturally-flowing and entirely unforced manner. The fact that it takes place on the Moon somewhere in the future seems entirely secondary. A brilliant and worthy first picture from a talented and accomplished young director.
Though I’m past one hundred thousand miles
I’m feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her very much (she knows!)
Ground Control to Major Tom
Your circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong
Can you hear me Major Tom....?
And as for you Coppola.... I'm a card carrying member of the People's Front of Judea and to join them, you have to really hate the Romans.