Posts Tagged ‘Sam Rockwell’

moon-duncan jones

Moon: Cinema has a sense of irony that has recently become predictable. It is simple mathematics, really. For example, Al Pacino x Robert Deniro = enough proof method acting does not age with grace or Catherine Zeta Jones + human/animal/plant/heavy machinery = awful. Thankfully, not all make you want to puke. One particularly gratifying arithmetic I figured out was that low budget science fiction = awesome. Now, I normally don’t fancy sci fi films. Most of them are a fruity lot, with their deliberate attempts at raising oohs and ahhs through CGI effects and elaborately silly plots. Cascading orchestral music, bullshit theories, unreasonable plot twists and so on. Somehow low budget sci fi movies such as Primer, Pi and Cube seem to rise above that shit and instead present spectacular situations that are wonderful and scary to imagine only because they could happen…uhmmm tomorrow.sam_rockwell_moon_movie

Duncan Jones’ Moon is probably the second best of its kind I have seen (Shane Carruth’s Primer is a few inches ahead). It tells a tale of an astronaut – Sam Bell – getting ready to head back to earth after spending nearly three years on the moon, servicing equipment for a multi-national energy company. Sam Rockwell tunes in a riveting one-man show. His character’s slow descent into mental and physical deterioration could pass for a long-ass music video of Eels’ Electro Shock Blues album. Quirky, lonely and melancholic. Kevin Spacey is delightfully inconspicuous as Gerty – the robot; a strange mix between Marvin the Paranoid Android and Mother Goose.

duncan-jonesClint Mansell’s original score and Gary Shaw’s cinematography are intoxicating; the combination of both dam near drove me into a hallucinatory state an hour into the film. As for the twist, well…there is a semblance of one. Matter of fact, director Duncan Jones could have saved the twist for the climax and the movie would have still been pretty darn great. The fact that he gives it away in the middle and still keeps our minds itching with pleasure until the end is a testament to just how fucking great Moon turned out anyway.


Juice: As far as I can tell, John Singleton’s Boyz N The Hood brought hyper-realistic violence to the blaxploitation genre. The early Nineties spawned a bunch of films about kids trying to get out of the muck of poverty and gang-related violence. I’m sure most of them had perfectly decent intentions of bringing to light America’s most awkward misnomer – their country’s perception of the black man. What they ended up doing (at least to a brown-skinned boy sitting in front of the tele) instead is furthering the caricature. While it isn’t as bad as Menace To Sobriety (yes I hated it), it still is a far cry from Boyz N The Hood. Juice sometimes works, but only because of Tupac Shakur’s crazed antics and Eric B and Rakim’s fantastic title song Juice (Know The Ledge). Also, check out Singleton’s Higher Learning. Much much better.plaguetown

Plague Town: This is David Gregory’s first full-length feature film and hopefully will be the last one until he gets a bigger budget. A lot of horror films have been wonderfully executed on shoestring budgets, but Plague Town isn’t one of them. The girl with the pale white mask gets the creep factor going for awhile, but soon you realize that she looks like a brooding Slipknot fan.The ending is lame too. Give this one a miss, but for Romero’s sake, don’t give up on indie horror.

Quick realization

King Crimson’s Moonchild

Ilayaraja’s Pillai Nila

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Lawn Dogs: I am not entirely sure what director John Duigan wanted to convey through Lawn Dogs. It is the equivalent of reading a Patrick McCabe novel. You are not entirely sure about what’s going on, but somehow you are moved by it. Throw in some over-the-top symbolism and a haunting musical score and you’ll be lucky not to be squatting naked on your bathroom floor, clutching your knees, sobbing while dealing with a migraine by the end of the film.

Alright, maybe I exaggerate a bit (certainly not about McCabe though, try reading Mondo Desperado), but seriously, the ending freaked me out. And I want that beautiful piece of music that pierces through the climax more than I want chocolate shavings on my double-scoop sundae.

lawn dogs

Sam Rockwell once again gets on every critic’s good side with his commitment to his character’s eccentricities. Even in Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, he played the role of Zaphod Beeblebrox with the perfect level of silliness and assholishness (I don’t get paid for this, you know). In Lawn Dogs, Rockwell plays Trent – a free-spirited, slightly insane trailer park reject who makes a living by mowing lawns in the nearby sophisticated housing development. Enter Mischa Barton, who plays Devon Stockard – a ten-year-old girl who feels so burdened by society’s imperfections that she hardly feels the need to let her mind wander within hundred feet of reality. They have something in common – the urge to keep running away until normalcy is all but a tiny dot.

Of course, the other residents misconstrue certain events, which leads to many awkward moments and by the end, a few disturbing, violent ones between these two lawn dogs and the rest of the world. Like I said earlier, I don’t think Lawn Dogs ended the way that would have probably catapulted it to greatness (or at least what I conceive to be so), but it did leave me with a feeling that it could never be replicated again. That’s more than I can say for most of what artists across different medium spewed forth during the Nineties.


Donnie Darko: Dam…I should have watched Donnie Darko a few years ago. Not that I didn’t enjoy it a whole lot, but something tells me that I would have just stopped short of persistently drooling if I had watched it then. See folks, if you want to make a film about teenagers getting messed up by peer pressure, social alienation and all that, this is what you do. You hire a competent actor (Jake Gyllenhaal is exactly that), give his character a vague emotional crisis, weave a plausible storyline around his life and then boldly going where few films about stressed out teenagers go  – a dark alley where different genres of film meet up and shake hands.

doniie darko

Donnie Darko does that to science fiction; often teasing to cross paths with time travel, but never obliging to say more than a kind word. I’ll stop before I confuse you further by talking about everything else than the storyline. So, go watch Donnie Darko. It is directed by Richard Kelly and features solid performances by Maggie Gyllenhaal (whom I think can do no wrong) and Holmes Osbourne. Oh, Patrick Swayze is remarkably sleazy and awesome in his role as the motivational speaker. No wonder he almost managed to save Niall Johnson’s Keeping Mum with similar creepiness.

followingFollowing: This one is Christopher Nolan’s first full-length feature film and with the exception of Memento, it also happens to be his most satisfying work. Surprisingly, most its uniqueness stems from the fact that the storytelling in Following hardly bears to any resemblance to any of his future endeavors that brought Hollywood to its knees. Before I go on raving about this and that, you should know that the narration is presented in a disjointed format; meaning that Christopher Nolan – the cinematographer – had more of an impact on this film than Nolan – the director or the writer.

Shot in a grainy 16 MM camera, it gives us a glimpse into the life of ‘Bill’ (Jeremy Theobald) – a writer who one day decides to follow people in order to understand more about them. An encounter with a sharp dressed thief (Alex Haw) leads ‘Bill’ and us, the audience, into a journey of fractured self-discovery. So, is this film noir? Perhaps, but with muted words replacing dramatic silence.


Pi: And this one just happens to be Darren Aronofsky debut film (both of which are available, excellently packaged at Rainbow DVD store in Old Parsons Complex). This too has been shot in murky black and white with the inconsistent camerawork working to its benefit. As horribly cheesy as the tagline – searching for patterns in all the wrong places – is, it perhaps is the most accurate description of Aronofsky oddly intense debut.

Pi has Sean Gullette playing Max Cohen – a New York-based mathematical theorist who believes that numbers can solve universal complexities and provide a definitive answer to the biggest problem of all, life itself. With the help of Euclid (his homemade supercomputer), he looks to find patterns that could give him control over the stock market. Like Following, the protagonist’s life changes after a strange encounter with an even stranger man – in this case, Lenny Meyer (Ben Shenkman), an orthodox Jew who theorizes on Torah (Judaism’s original religious and legal texts).


Now look, I have absolutely hated mathematics as long as my memory permits. Nothing made me sadder as a kid than to know that solving a problem involving numbers held the key to how close I was to a righteous asskicking from my dad. Despite that, I enjoyed the tricky arithmetic of Pi; mostly because the director didn’t suck the life out of it by taking away the element of human error.

Pi is splendid mostly because we pity Max Cohen more than anything else.

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