Sunday, November 28, 2004

By the light of a silvery moonbase

I’m a bit of a fan of B-grade horror and SF films. The other night I noticed that channel nine was screening a film called Moonbase at 2:30 am so I strolled on over to IMDB to see if it was worth taping.

It turns out to be your basic tale of a disgraced astronaut seeking redemption in charge of an obscure moonbase waste disposal unit which is about to be taken over by a handful of homicidal escaped convicts.

The comments about this film aren’t kind. From one commenter, ‘rsoonsa’:

‘The plot involves an escape of life sentenced prisoners from a space station penal colony to a waste landfill upon our moon and their various attempts to obtain passage back to Earth, with some few capable players present who are execrably directed by first-timer Paolo Mazzucato, whose production team wastes effort upon such as holographic pornography while ignoring a pressing and basic requirement for the creation of states of suspense and of impetus.’

Which is all good fun until you see a later comment entitled ‘A note from the director...’. Yes, Mr Mazzucato himself weighs in:

“IMDB: While the following is not exactly a review, I think "equal time" is warranted when you do post a review that is so flawed. Your consideration is appreciated.

Regarding rsoonsa's "critique":

I suppose if one chooses to work in the sewer of low- budget production he should not take offense when his efforts are referred to as excrement. And perhaps you are correct in opining that with "essentially no budget... special effects of space opera warfare (will) appear only clownish." It might have been nobler, on my part, if when handed the script for "Moonbase" and asked if I wanted to direct the film, I had flatly refused on the grounds of the implausibility of the story and the impossibility of filming it for the meager budget allotted. But in the real world, those who seek to create something, anything, have to seize the opportunities afforded to them and do their best within the parameters set by the given project”

He then proceeds to offer paragraph after paragraph of defence of the allegedly implausible science behind ‘Moonbase’, including the fact that all exterior shots in space should be silent, the possibility of the establishment of an orbiting station at a stable point within the moon's orbit equidistant from the Earth and the moon, and the ‘problem of Earth's accumulation of garbage and the proposition that some future government might consider dumping refuse in a lunar crater out of view on the moon's far side.’

Jeez, lighten up, dude.

Still, I feel for Mr Mazzucato. ‘Moonbase’ is indeed his only credit as director (alongside a scattering of writing, art direction and ‘miscellaneous crew’ credits). And that was released in 1998; he hasn’t directed anything since then (in fact, he doesn’t seem to have worked at all since 1999).

He evidently invests something of himself in his film career and the products of his labour, only to see some random internet dude who happens to catch his one and only movie on late-night cable slam it into oblivion.

As he says: ‘You don't have to like it, I just wish you didn't get so much glee from tearing it down in your own "execrable" fashion.’

That’s the internet for you: recording what would otherwise have been private thoughts and feelings permanently so that somewhere, somehow, someone will be hurt by them.

I give the final word to my man, Paolo, a man who tried hard to tread the fine line between art and the commercial dictates of the motion picture industry to produce a little cinematic gem that might stand the test of time:

“Now, regarding your objection to the holographic stripper...well, okay. Let's just say sometimes the people who have to sell the end product request a little skin. And as my producer explained to me: It's the golden rule; He who has the gold, makes the rules. In my defense I will point out though, that I reworked that story point and the climax in Act 3 so that the holographic nudity was not entirely gratuitous.”
Well, that’s alright then…

(And it was pretty execrable by the way...)

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