Duncan Jones' "Moon" belongs in that category of heady independent science fiction films (both versions of "Solaris", "Sunshine") that emphasizes ideas above all else. Tastefully rendered in minimal camera selections (no hand-held, composed medium shots, efficient editing), "Moon" features a great performance from Sam Rockwell as an astronaut working on the moon for the Lunar corporation... a company that's developed energy from harnessing sunlight on the far side of the moon. As his 3 year contract comes to a close, his mind begins to slip. Needless to say, writer/director Jones keeps everything controlled tightly. There are no pseudo alien things at play here. In fact, part of the film's magnificent charm is its ability to keep the tension intact after the 'big reveal' in the first 30 minutes. More and more interesting ideas begin to tumble like dominoes. All in all, "Moon" is a surprisingly effective debut from a filmmaker with loads of potential.
My affinity for Olivier Assayas notwithstanding, "Summer Hours" would be a terrific film without his presence since its ensemble acting is gentle and pitch perfect. Situated somewhere between domestic French talkie and a cunning delineation of the conflicts between three generations of one family, Assayas had jettisoned the herky-jerky kinetic ism of his previous films and slowed things down with careful tracking shots and sublime editing (which, even in his frenetic work, was always calculated). After the mother in a large, artistically inclined family dies, the burden of her estate falls on her three children, played by Charles Berlinger, Juliette Binoche and Jeremie Rennier. Juggling their own modern lives while wading into the antiquated waters of their families past, "Summer Hours" is a great companion piece to Assayas' "Late August, Early September"... both are films that explicitly and immediately cause one to care for these characters and the subtle decisions they make. Just watch the community that flows through one scene when Binoche confesses her impending marriage or the final moments where granddaughter Sylvie (Alice Lencquesaing) ruminates on the days spent playing around her grandmother's house. And even though Assayas infuses every frame with longing and mortality, "Summer Hours" is far from a brooding or unpleasant experience. It perfectly seems to capture that awe-inspiring feeling that we all face- dealing with the past and smiling at the future we've built for ourselves through our current family and friends.