Friday, 19 February 2010

Public Mooning in March

The wonderful people over at the Jameson Cult Film Club have recently announced the winner of their St Patrick's Day cult Screening and the winner is: Duncan Jones' Moon (2008).

Unfortunately I'll be busy sunning myself in Australia in March and so, sadly, won't be able to make the event. SO, I thought to myself, why not blog about it in advance? So here's an anticipatory review of the event... well, sort of.

First up I'd like to talk about the film selection itself; Moon has been officially selected by the public, winning with 59% of the vote - pretty high considering it was up against not one, but two, other superb cult sci-fi classics: Donnie Darko (2001) and War of the Worlds (1953). What's interesting about the nominations is the simultaneous disparity and cohesion between the three films; all are intelligent and interesting examples of filmic sci-fi, plus, they aren't afraid to get a little existential on your ass, but each has a distinct and unique tonality and offer entirely original ideas.

War of the Worlds (unfortunately) has come to mean Spielberg, Cruise and Fanning to a whole new generation of film goers, but as those of us who were born anytime before around about 1990 will already know, War of the Worlds is actually a quality film that communicates the extreme tension H.G. Wells created through written word combined with the use of melodrama and hysteria that only a cinematic vision from the 1950s could possibly deliver. And what could be a better formula for cult than gripping sci-fi mixed with ever so slightly dated fears (of what I like to call) 'the future past' ('the future past' being a vision of the future but that has now past)?

Donnie Darko on the other hand is a sci-fi adventure for contemporary film nerds who like a little existentialism and esoteric ponderance in their lives. Donnie is seemingly a normal teenager, only his actions provide causal motive for his mentally disturbed state of mind which ensues for the most part of the film. Non-linear and certainly not without exceptionally well scripted dry wit, Donnie is something of a misfit hero for anyone with a little nihilism pulsing through their veins.

And then there was Moon. Well, let's be honest, expectations are going to be high whenever you're even anywhere near the realm of Bowie (for anyone who doesn't already know, Duncan Jones' given name is Zowie Bowie and yes he is the son of legendary David Bowie). Now I'll admit that entering the auditorium to see Moon, I took my seat with trepidation (possibly because I didn't have the pleasure of seeing the film in the equally awesome interior of the Royal Institution!). But I was anxious because after having seen the trailer, beautiful though it was, I feared the film would turn out to be a kind of reworking of Tarkovsky's masterpiece of cinema, Solaris (Solyaris, 1972). Or worse yet, a mash-up of the aforementioned with Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Thankfully, despite sharing similar thematic and visual tropes with these films, and whilst certainly at times homaging their achievements, Duncan Jones successfully develops his own story, style, atmosphere and tone. Through these devices he not only delivers a well observed drama, but also achieves a great moral and ethical questioning with the film's final revelations. A beautiful piece of filmmaking that is a credit not only to Jones, but one too that gives hope to those of us who continually wait for a decent director and a decent film to call British. The only thing missing was a delicious glass of Jamesons post viewing!

So if you're free on St Patrick's Day and you love cult film and whiskey (chances are if you're reading my blog that you like at least one of those things), then get yourself a ticket to the next Jameson Cult Film Club event - tout de suite!

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