The final film of the day, and very close to being my favourite was Moon, the debut film from Duncan Jones is a brain-bending Sci-fi movie starring Kevin Spacey and an increasing number of Sam Rockwells. The film charts Sam Bell’s (played by an on form Sam Rockwell) final few weeks on the moon mining Helium-3 before coming home to Earth. A series of events unfold on the moon leading Sam to the conclusion that things are not what they seem. For a debut film Moon is an incredible movie and if it weren’t for District 9 would probably be my favourite Sci-Fi film of the year. The isolation on the moon is expertly portrayed and directed, and Kevin Spacey does an excellent turn as the on-board computer. The pacing is a little slow by modern standards but absolutely spot on (the external shots were a little slow-paced, but they had to be – it’s the moon after all) for classic Sci-Fi. I think the bleakness of the moon could’ve been slightly better exposed in these shots by being silent (instead of the vehicle rumbling given the lack of atmosphere) but I can see how that might have put some viewers off given the length of some of the shots.
The film is not without it’s flaws and if you’re a fan of Sci-Fi you might find all the influences – particularly 2001 go a bit too overboard, but it doesn’t detract from the film. The only thing I thought that was a little off was the computer, which without giving too much away had a sudden change of heart mid-way through a scene that changes the film’s outcome considerably. The change was somewhat unexplained and could’ve possibly been managed a little better. Some elements, such as the advert for the Lunar mining company at the start made me wish that something similar had been done in one of the Alien films. Speaking of Alien films, I felt that the isolation of the lunar base was reminiscent of David Fincher’s portrayal of the prison colony in Alien 3 as much as the isolation of the Discovery approaching Jupiter in 2001. Sam Rockwell appears to have made the transition from comedy to serious actor very well – I loved him in Choke but felt he lacked the opportunity to shine, something here he does very well in different ways.
Moon makes for a formidable debut by Jones and I await his next film with baited breath. Definitely one to watch.
Mesrine charts the rise and subsequent fall of jacques mesrine, one of France’s most notorious gangsters. I didn’t know much about jaques mesrine before the film, but found Vincent Cassel’s performance compelling and captivating. Everyhing from his physical presence to his portrayal of the egomaniacal mesrine oozes a credibility and ability to suspend disbelief sorely missing from hurt locker. The story starts with his death and works back from an audacious pair of bank robberies to kidnappings and dalliance with far leftpolitical movements of the day, but it is in his personal life that Cassel’s mesrine displays the most vulnerability. A failure as both a son and a father, mesrines romantic relationships also portray a simultaneous failure to accept the inevitable along with a need to glamourise the myth of mesrine in a highly provocative manner. The presentation is smooth and typically Gallic, with a standout unintentially funny London street scene as a street seller with a dodgy accent peddles Paris match on a random London road. Mesrine was (for me at least) the best film of the day, carried through by good directing and the best performance I’ve seen from cassel since la haine. Definitely one to watch.
Hurt locker is the new film from Kathryn Bigelow, probably best known for Point Break. The hurt Locker tells the story of 3 bomb squad members whose lives change on the introduction of a new team leader. The film is told very much from the soldiers perspective, and shows the highs and lows of life in Iraq for the characters. Whilst the film makes some brave choices and has some literally explosive scenes the film falls short in a number of places. The new team leader, James is a seriously flawed character who takes risks and leads his colleagues into some extremely dangerous situations. His recklessness alone is surprising to say the least and should at least land him some serious disciplinary action but even after shooting one of hs own men (resulting in said man being sent home for 6 months of medical treatment) we see little more than harsh words from a fellow soldier. There’s also some good use of slow motion action bit this ends up being overused to some extent. Despite this there are some very good scenes and a solid performance from the second in command. If you’re a fan of Iraq war films you could do worse than give this a try, but don’t expect an oscar winning performance from this one.
Today is the start of the August bank holiday weekend in the Uk. My friend Steve and I have decided we’ll have a movie marathon in London visiting some non-chain cinemas for something with a bit more character. I’ll post reviews of the films we’re seeing (hurt locker, mesrine: killer instinct and moon) and of the cinemas too, with updates and links over the weekend.
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