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New Year's Roundup: 'Moon,' Sir Peter Jackson and Nicolas Cage Colorforms

January 1, 2010 |  9:50 am

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You Heard It on Twitter Department: There's a flurry of news on the film blogs today about "Moon" director Duncan Jones' Twitter posts (sorry, tweets) regarding U.S. distributor Sony's reluctance to send out screeners of his quirky indie to Academy screeners, which would hobble the pic's chances with voters. According to Jones, Sony balked because the film is not currently available on DVD in the U.S. and the company would be required to send out watermarked copies to combat piracy. As Slashfilm smartly notes, it's a specious argument because "Moon" is already available on disc in Jones' native Britain and pirates... well, they're not exactly going to wait until the Region 1 disc shows up to start cranking out copies. Regardless, it doesn't seem like Sony plans to change its mind any time soon, and alternate plans, like Academy screenings in New York and Los Angeles (as suggested by writer Neil Gaiman) have fallen on deaf ears. 

What's a "Moon" fan to do? Well, aside from passing the word as Jones and others have done, not much at this time. Which is unfortunate, as the film, and in particular Sam Rockwell's (largely) solo performance, are worth being seen by a broader audience. I guess you'll have to wait until the January 12, 2010 release date of the pic on DVD and Blu-ray in the States.

Just when you thought that the Palm Springs International Film Festival  had finished announcing its extraordinary lineup for the 21st edition, the organizers offer up another round of major buzzworthy names and titles. The latest addition is the "Talking Pictures: The Contenders" series, which will present films and interviews with the filmmakers who are in the lead for Oscar nominations. The series kicks off on Jan. 6 with Rob Marshall, who will speak after a screening of "Nine"; that same day, Lee Daniels will present and discuss "Precious." And Lone Scherfig will be on hand for a Jan. 16 showing of "An Education." 

There will also be a panel discussion with five of the leading candidates for the best foreign film Oscar on Jan. 10; the participating filmmakers are Ursula Meier ("Home"), Yaron Shani and Scandar Copti (the Ophir-winning "Ajami"), Warwick Thornton ("Samson and Delilah," which claimed the Camera d'Or at Cannes) and Felix van Groeningen ("The Misfortunates"). The Talking Pictures series is just one of several film programs featured at the PSIFF; a tribute to Australian film, as well as the FIPRESCI and John Schlesinger Awards (for best foreign film and outstanding first feature and documentary, respectively), were previously announced.

That's Sir Peter Jackson to you: The "Lovely Bones" director has been made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in his native country. Jackson received the honor for his services to New Zealand and to the film community at large; among his contributions are the establishment of the special effects company Weta Studios, his production company Wingnut Films and, more recently, Park Road Post Production, which provides post-production services. He's also a major contributor to educational organizations in New Zealand as well as film festivals there. When asked about his reaction to his knighthood, Jackson said he "thought nothing would surpass the 2004 Academy Awards, but I was wrong." For those who've forgotten, Jackson claimed 11 Oscars for "The Return of the King," the final film in his blockbuster "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, at that ceremony.  

Oh, and though Christmas 2009 is over, there's still time for you to find that perfect gift for the cineaste in your life. For those whose tastes in motion pictures run toward the completely outre, may I suggest the Nicolas Cage Adventure Set? The brainchild of artist Brandon Bird, the Colorforms-style play-set offers reusable vinyl stickers of the Oscar-winning actor in three distinct poses (two appear to be from "Adaptation" and the "National Treasure" series; the third is unidentifiable, but it's a distinctly befuddled look that Cage has trotted out on numerous occasions) that can be applied to two scenarios (tropical island and haunted castle) and outfitted with a series of accoutrements, including a skateboard, a space helmet and an ice cream cone (there's also a ghost to heighten the drama of the castle situation). At $12, this is a gift destined to make a loved one in your life ... well, I don't know about smile, but it'll get a reaction of some kind. Why not find out what it'll be today?

And on that note, adios to 2009, and bring on 2010!

-- Paul Gaita

Photo: Sam Rockwell in "Moon." Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment

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