344. Moon

★★★

Watching “Moon” in 2018 is an interesting exercise, considering director Duncan Jones is no longer considered a sci-fi wunderkind after his most recen mess heap of a movie known as “Mute.” While “Moon” got many to believe that Jones was a prolific director, “Mute” assigned him a label of one-hit wonder, an artistic talent with his only great work in the rear-view mirror.

But watching “Moon” again, its flaws shine more brightly along with its greatness, a footprint of a storyteller who has something profound to say, but just hasn’t figured out the right words. “Moon” isn’t a difficult film to follow and it’s concepts, while insightful, aren’t entirely profound. But Jones finds intrigue in small spaces in this low-budget, high-concept, sci-fi gem.

“Moon” is a science fiction tale about shared consciousnesses, free will vs. artificial programming, and the ethical dilemmas of expendable labor in the cosmos. Like “Star Trek,” “Moon” is just as much about being in outer space as it is about the issues we deal with at home. The movie’s most brilliant motif though is that we can love our memories of loved ones, just as much as we love those individuals themselves.

The movie follow Sam (Sam Rockwell), the only human worker tending to a mining operation on Earth’s moon. He’s able to survive the crippling moon monotony and loneliness with messages from his wife back home, but there’s something sinister gnawing at him about his confined living arrangements. Turns out that Sam isn’t the only Sam, but another cog in and endless line of Rockwell clones, each programmed and purposed with the real Sam’s memories and desire to succeed on the moon.

It’s a tricky tale, but Jones pulls it off with an intimate directorial style and a set design that feels junky but not unrealistic. Kevin Spacey also is strong as Gehry, a fresh take on the old sentient, sci-fi robot of yesteryear. But Rockwell transforms intrigue into entertainment as Sam, one of the few actors audiences could have fun watching them talk to themselves.

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