Day one for me (technically day two for the film festival) ended for me with Moonwalkers, an action-comedy that has Ron Perlman as a CIA agent tasked with securing Stanley Kubrick to direct a faked moon landing in case the Apollo 11 mission fails. Co-starring were Rupert Grint (Ron from Harry Potter) and Robert Sheehan (The Road Within).
Although the actual screening started late, the event kicked off early when a horde of teenage girls heralded Grint’s arrival at the Alamo Drafthouse theater on Austin’s busy 6th street. The funniest moment, for me at least, came when Perlman pushed through to the side and set off down 6th with hardly a second glance from anyone, while Grint, easily the least successful of the Harry Potter trio post-Harry Potter commanded many a camera and created quite the logjam that required police-maintained order. (Don’t worry, it was all very civil and peaceful.)
But on to the movie. Early on, I was reminded of Frank, which I saw last year at SXSW; both are weird British black comedies. But Moonwalkers never veers into the truly bizarre reaches of Frank (though not exactly for lack of trying), preferring a giant attempted con, a gangster subplot, and a shootout juxtaposed against a massively failed take of the fake landing for the denouement.
All that’s fine, and I guess if you push me I’ll say that for the most part I liked Moonwalkers.But maybe it’s due to the sheer number of films I see every year, but this one had some content red flags, i.e. there were some tells that read to me as “artistically a little lazy and trying to be easily marketed to a distributor.” Namely the movie struck me as a bit misogynistic.
Aside from the fact that all the leads were white men, which is a problem throughout the industry, a venture into the magical mansion of auteur film director Kozinsky (who becomes the backup plan when Kubrick obviously can’t be found) reveals a bevvy of topless women. There are other enigmatic set dressing characters, too, but mostly there’s a bunch of nameless, unidentifiable women who seem to exist to walk around with their breasts out.
For many people, I think the bother will be minimal; for me, I see enough movies that this feels exploitative. Scantily clad women are a de facto “cool guy” set dressing, and especially when there aren’t several strong female characters in a movie, this is usually a problem.
On to day two!