What’s an average Joe to do when he’s got three years to kill and the moon as his playground? Build scale models of Fairfield, master the art of ping-pong, and, if there’s time, take a foray into insanity. Moon, director Duncan Jones’ freshman project, stars SF native Sam Rockwell and marks a return to the days of classic science fiction in which, with the effects tuned down, it is the stories of ordinary men which take center stage. As such, Moon pulls inspiration from films like Alien and Silent Running, but nothing quite tops its modern day interpretation of HAL, a performance I’m dubbing “2009 A Space Emoticon.”
Following the screening, the Castro held a Q&A with director Duncan Jones. I won’t lie, initially the idea made me cringe. Q&A’s are intolerable enough without genre buffs soliloquizing about the ramifications of Cylon and human interbreeding. Perhaps the facilitators knew whom to avoid because, for the most part, questions remained focused and somewhat pointed. For example, when probed to comment on what made great science fiction, Jones mused on the value of the human experience. Science fiction, he argued, should frame only the environment, while the story itself should focus on the way people deal with the impossible realities that surround them. And when that person in question is Sam Rockwell, the coping can get downright hilarious.
Oh, and is it just me, or are people more willing to laugh when they think the director is lurking in the audience? Moon no doubt makes good use of humor, but it was often the most contrived sequences that precipitated the highest degree of chortling. Coincidence, or are we simply eager to bolster the egos of celebrities in any way possible?
Like all great independent productions, Moon did not come to fruition without the appropriate letting of sweat, blood, and tears. In his introduction, Jones referenced a certain facial scar that came as a result of the production. In his Q&A he shed further light upon the blemish: despite warnings that he never scale a piece of scaffolding on the set, Jones made the upward trek to give direction to Rockwell. The journey proved too much for the freshman director, and he toppled seven feet to the cold, concrete below.
It remains to be seen whether the blow sparked his own flux capacitor of inspiration, but it no doubt demonstrates one man’s commitment to the challenges of independent science fiction.