Sunday, August 23, 2009

Existential Lunar Drama (rated 4 stars)

by Duncan Jones

In Duncan Jone’s Moon we follow the journey of self-discovery of Sam Bell, the only inhabitant of the moon in the 70s sci-fi influenced story that is constructed around a great performance from Sam Rockwell. The film is deliberately paced and filled with references to many of the great, intellectual science fiction films that have preceded it. In the claustrophobic atmosphere, Jones creates a story about identity in an uneasy way that allows the audience to figure things out slightly ahead of the characters, but doesn’t hold back things too long.
The effects are a beautiful hybrid of model work and CGI that adds a level of authenticity in a very human way. Instead of distancing us with the effects, it somehow fits perfectly within the story in a subtle, but effective way.
It’s really an existential drama that is set on the moon that uses the conventions of science fiction to explore ideas about who we are and what it means to be human and to relate to other people.

Interesting Japanese Horror / Comedy Hybrid (rated 3 stars)

Kioshi Kurosawa’s films are fascinating as he moves through different genres and creates interesting stories all that have an uneasy and ambiguous quality to them. In Doppelganger he starts off in the creepy / horror mode and then moves into a more comedic tone all while keeping things uneasy. The idea of Doppelganger is “what would happen if you met your double”. Kurosawa cleverly plays with the convention of having an evil version of yourself and does some innovative things in terms of the shooting. The challenge in shooting a film with a double is that you need to use the same actor to play both parts. Kurosawa divides the screen into 2 or 3 frames and uses the split screen to seamlessly create the illusion that there are two versions of the same person in the same space. There also are some amazing shots combining the same actor together, so technically it’s a lot of fun to watch as well. While not as involving as his other films, it’s still worth seeing as Kurosawa explores ambiguity and character in interesting ways.