Dave Bowie

“My upbringing was pretty weird," says David Bowie's son

I know. You're thinking, "No WAY." But sure enough. Or so Duncan Jones, the artist formerly known as Zowie Bowie, the New York Times last week.

Jones was recalling the formative years during which his father introduced him to the likes of George Orwell, J.G. Ballard and Philip K. Dick, and let him hang around the set on movies such as Labyrinth. The occasion for these revelations was a publicity push for Jones' feature film directorial debut, Moon--an impressive piece of work, not least because its general disposition is so steadfastly down to Earth.

Sam Rockwell stars as a near-future moon base laborer who for three years has spent his days alone mining the lunar soil's rich supply of Helium 3, with which his far-flung corporate overseer claims to be solving Earth's energy crisis. Alone, that is, until an entirely unlikely visitor arrives and turns out not to be good company.

In recent years, Rockwell has been building a fine body of work by wondering how men live with themselves, and Moon is all about that. It’s hard to discuss in detail without giving the whole plot away, and of course the plot--developed by Jones with screenwriter Nathan Parker--is pretty ridiculous. Let’s just say that it takes place on the mysterious frontier between space madness and corporate malfeasance, and that my disbelief was suspended.

I like the movie’s peculiar personality, its way of being a functional assembly of nice touches--like Clint Mansell’s driving score, or the deliberate tactility of the production design, or the obligatory omnipresent talking computer being voiced by Kevin Spacey, whose performances always strike me as facsimiles of humanness anyway.

Most of all, I like that it's not ever too peculiar. As a conscious throwback to the unabashedly philosophical, pre-CGI science fiction of Jones' youth, Moon also has just enough astronomical distance from his famously spaced-out dad. If we want to call Jones' good taste an inheritance, we should allow that so, too, is his discretionary independence.