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Moon (2009)

Drama Rated R

There’s a tiny detail in Moon that nicely captures the unique experience of watching this tricky, twisty movie. The story is set on a lunar space station in which identifying signage appears on walls, equipment and so on. One particular note, stamped at the bottom of a ladder, caught my eye: “Mind step.” It’s a warning, of course, to watch where you’re walking, but it’s also indicative of the way this sneaky exercise messes with your brain – it makes you think one level above normal. Sam Rockwell stars as Sam Bell, the sole human employee at a mining station on the moon. Just a few weeks away from finishing up his three-year solo contract, Sam … well, the less you know the better. Although Moon deals in familiar sci-fi elements – an artificially intelligent computer (benignly voiced by Kevin Spacey), zero-gravity space walks – it uses them in inventive ways. First-time feature director Duncan Jones finds a fertile middle ground between the popcorn appeal of something like Red Planet and the deep-think meditation of Solaris. Moon is both tense and dreamy. As for Rockwell, to praise his impressive performance in too much detail would be giving much of the movie away. Let’s just say he should have been nominated for Best Actor at least twice.