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When You Grope for Luna 

Wednesday, Aug 19 2009
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Moon is a modest science fiction film with major aspirations. The tale of a lonely spaceman might have made an excellent Twilight Zone episode, but Moon’s premise is even more suggestive of a song by director Duncan Jones’s father, David Bowie, whose 1969 hit “Space Oddity,” took a depressed astronaut as its protagonist. Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is introduced running laps on his lunar station treadmill. Bell, alone save for his chaperone Gerty, an ungainly robotic valet with the soothing voice of Kevin Spacey and a smiley face on its TV monitor, has been at this dump of a base for nearly three years and, having almost fulfilled his contract, desperately wants out. The movie is a virtual solo for Rockwell, whose shambolic everyman is already perilously close to a nervous breakdown when he totals his lunar Land Rover while out on a repair mission. Bell wakes up in the infirmary and, motivated by an obscure urge to investigate, tricks Gerty into allowing him back outside. Revisiting the scene of the accident, he finds another guy in the crashed vehicle: him. At this point, Rockwell’s one-man show turns into a doppelganger act. Impressively pulled together on a modest budget, Moon has a strong lead and a valid philosophical premise but, despite Bell’s fissured psyche, the drama is inert. Ground control to Major Tom: Moon orbits an idea, but it doesn’t go anywhere.
Tue., Sept. 1, 7:15 & 9:25 p.m.; Wed., Sept. 2, 7:15 & 9:25 p.m., 2009

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J. Hoberman

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