DID YOU READ

Sundance 2009: “Moon.”

Sundance 2009: “Moon.” (photo)

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“Moon” has the serious/silly premise you’d expect from a ’70s sci-fi movie, the type that’s meant to make you gasp “Oh, the terrible inhumanity of it all. And yet… that could be us someday!” while not holding up to real examination. (In this case: how could it possibly not be more economical to just bring in workers from China?) But “Moon” also has Sam Rockwell, who gives such a funny, sad, tender performance that the film works as a drama about a man who, thanks to a mixture of high technology and corporate malfeasance, is forced to confront the wrathful person he used to be and the changed one into which he’s grown — to learn to embrace himself, sometimes literally.

Rockwell plays Sam Bell, an astronaut nearing the end of his three-year contract at a mining base on the far side of the moon. His only company is Gerty, a talking computer with a robotic arm and a window that displays its feelings via emoticon. Sam may watch a lot of old TV, but he obviously hasn’t seen many sci-fi films, or he would have never agreed to live in an all-white space station with an artificially intelligent computer (voiced by Kevin Spacey, even) by himself in the employ of an ominous multinational corporation. But the trouble that comes for Sam isn’t from an expected direction. I won’t give away the plot twist, which anyway isn’t hard to spot coming and arrives earlyish in the film, but it starts to look like Sam isn’t going to make it home to his wife and the child he’s never met, not in the way he’d always expected.

Directed by Duncan Jones, who once upon a time was inflicted by his father, David Bowie, with the name Zowie, “Moon” looks awfully good for an indie sci-fi film. The Sarang station that houses Sam is both antiseptic and scruffily lived-in; the lunar surface is desolate and monochromatic, disturbed by massive automated mining machines that plow along the surface, kicking up debris. Its the plot mechanisms that are faulty, but even those are forgettable enough as enablers of the films “Solaris”-lite ambitions, in which space is the place you go explore yourself. With Rockwell’s performance, “Moon” turns out to be warmer to the touch than it first appears.

“Moon” currently has no U.S. distribution. See all of IFC.com’s Sundance coverage here.

[Photo: “Moon,” Independent, 2009]

Jackie That 70s Show

Jackie Oh!

15 That ’70s Show Quotes to Help You Unleash Your Inner Jackie

Catch That '70s Show Mondays and Tuesdays from 6-10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Carsey-Werner Company

When life gets you down, just ask yourself: what would Jackie do? (But don’t ask her, because she doesn’t care about your stupid problems.) Before you catch That ’70s Show on IFC, take a look at some quotes that will help you be the best Jackie you can be.


15. She knows her strengths.

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14. She doesn’t let a little thing like emotions get in the way.

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13. She’s her own best friend.

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12. She has big plans for her future.

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11. She keeps her ego in check.

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10. She can really put things in perspective.

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9. She’s a lover…

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8. But she knows not to just throw her love around.

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7. She’s proud of her accomplishments.

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6. She knows her place in the world.

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5. She asks herself the hard questions.

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4. She takes care of herself.

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3. She’s deep.

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2. She’s a problem solver.

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1. And she’s always modest.

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Sundance 2009: “You Wont Miss Me.”

Sundance 2009: “You Wont Miss Me.” (photo)

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“You Wont Miss Me” is all about Shelly Brown, a girl with the kind of problems plenty of 20-somethings dream of moving to New York for the express purpose of having: substance abuse, reckless hookups in her bedraggled Williamsburg apartment with shaggy boys who mistreat her, sudden fights with friends and strangers, an unseen actress mother who doesn’t pay her enough attention, and no job beyond auditioning for roles herself. But the film, the second from Ry Russo-Young, isn’t your average chronicle of dabblings in urban self-destruction, because Shelly, as she’s begun to realize herself, can’t turn down the volume. She’s not crazy — the film is structured around fractions of her exit interview with the psychiatrist tossing from a mental hospital because she doesn’t belong there — but she’s the kind of person who gets called that behind her back, her emotions and moods always slipping out of her control, her intense and frightening need for connection driving away whoever she reaches out to.

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Sundance 2009: “Mary and Max.”

Sundance 2009: “Mary and Max.” (photo)

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The opening night slot at Sundance is customarily considered one of doom, and in that tradition “Mary and Max” is a disappointment, though just a mild one. The film, animator Adam Elliot’s first feature, has many of the elements and motifs of his splendid, award-winning shorts — a distinctive portraiture-inspired look, heavy voiceover, characters with mental or physical disabilities, misspellings, insulting newspaper headlines, accident-prone pets — while demonstrating why, as it is, Elliot’s style is better kept to a briefer form.

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