Duncan Jones has done the seemingly impossible — tell a smart, engaging and entertaining sci-fi story on a modest budget. In Britain. As his debut feature film. No wonder everyone’s talking about Moon and its tale of an astronaut (Sam Rockwell) manning a lunar base mining Helium-3. Scoring an impressive 90% on the Tomatometer – qualifying it for a Certified Fresh award we’ve still yet to send him, much to his chagrin — critics have been going wild for its sheer ambition, not to mention Rockwell’s outstanding lead performance and Jones’ assured direction. “I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s something that Sam and I, obviously, wanted to make,” he tells RT as we sit down to tap him for his Five Favourite Films. “It’s the kind of science fiction film that doesn’t get made much anymore, and something that we miss.”
His choices clearly link to his work on Moon, and will, we discover, inform his next project, the similarly-sparsely-titled Mute. For Jones, the project, which was circulating before Moon came to be, was simply too ambitious for a first film. Which is odd when you consider the ambition of Moon. “It’ll be like what Chris Nolan did, I hope. He did Memento and then he did the next one, Insomnia with Al Pacino, which was a step forward. I want to take a similar kind of step if I can.” Read on to find out more…
“For me, Blade Runner is the best science-fiction film ever made. Although I did just speak to StarWars.com the other day, and Star Wars was the best science-fiction film ever made. Blade Runner, for me, was the most fully realised world. Sometimes you see films, not just science fiction films, where you get the sense that if the camera were to pan just to the left or the right all of a sudden you’d be seeing light stands and crew standing around. But with Blade Runner, the beauty of it is that it felt like a real, breathing city. Science-fiction cities in general, I think, are so hard to get right, because it’s so easy to just play some cheesy music or do something that takes you right out of it, but Blade Runner got it right, and I love that about the film.
It’s a great film as well, the performances are all amazing, Rutger Hauer is incredible in it. He’s never been as cool and sexy in anything since. Harrison Ford is grim and just a great protagonist. It’s just a brilliant sexy film. The sense that there is a real world beyond the frame of the camera is something that I want to do with my next film Mute, that’s going to be very much my love letter to Blade Runner. It’s a future Berlin thriller, and it’s exactly that element of Blade Runner that I want to capture in my film.”
“By Terry Gilliam, who is an amazing filmmaker anyway, and there are so many to choose from; Brazil, Fisher King… There are lots of his films that I love, but Twelve Monkeys, in particular, I thought was fantastic. I think it’s the best thing Bruce Willis has ever done, and also the best thing Brad Pitt has ever done as well. It’s just really intense, exciting and weird, and everything that I love about Terry Gilliam, so that’s up there.”
“I think it’s one of the great comedies. It’s incredibly dark, and on a character side, Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould, their characters are just so believable, and I think it’s the first bromance film, I just love it. I love the relationship between those two guys, so M*A*S*H is up there too.”
“I’m going for a bit film school-y one, because I love Akira Kurosawa films, but I don’t want to go for Seven Samurai, so i’ll go for Yojimbo or Sanjuro, those ones that all the spaghetti westerns were based on. I know it’s not fair, but that clump of Japanese samurai films were just beautiful films. Toshiro Mifune was such an elegant hero and there’s something really empathetic about him. There’s this lovely thing with his face where you really can just tell everything that he’s thinking. He doesn’t have to do much at all; you can just sense what’s going on with him. So I love those films, anything with Mifune in actually, but that period in particular, he was the best hero ever.”
“It’s not the best film ever, but it is beautifully done. It’s visceral and it’s beautifully made. I like David Fincher, I love his films anyway, but that film is, to me, the best of Fincher and what he really does well. It’s stylised but it’s smart. Even though it’s stylised, you feel that there’s a real character to it, it’s something very individual, and features another great Brad Pitt role. That and Twelve Monkeys are his best bits ever. Seven is fantastic as well, although I should stop clumping films together.”
Moon is out now.