The Last Man on the Moon chronicles the career of Gene Cernan. The microcosm of Cernan’s journey through NASA also illustrates the larger picture of the space race in the 1960s and 1970s.cernan_distant_moon

Cernan was literally the last man on the moon as he stepped off the surface and back into the lunar module during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. Cernan flew into space three times, first on the Gemini 9, then the Apollo 10 and subsequent Apollo 17 missions. The latter blast off was the only night launch of an Apollo rocket.

Director Mark Craig seamlessly shifts between contemporary interviews with Cernan in his home (Cernan lives close to Houston.) and newsreel and found footage. There’s plenty of NASA footage since they shot everything. The money shots of the sections of the Saturn rocket being released and falling away back down to Earth are part of our mixed media culture. Technology in 1972 allowed ground control to pull back and follow the lunar module as it takes off after a successful mission with a video camera mounted on the moon.

The Last Man on the Moon is unreeling at the downtown Sundance Cinemas.

Also on and recommended: Triple 9 and Eddie the Eagle.download

Eddie the Eagle, based on a true story, starts with a young lad who we’re introduced to in a leg brace. Eddie wants to be an Olympian when he grows up, and through sheer determination he competes in the 1988 Winter Olympics. Despite the fact the he was self-funded, and British officials tried at every turn to block his entry, Eddie overcomes the odds and sets British records for ski jumping.

That Eddie came in last in his efforts is also part of the story – it’s how you play the game baby. Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton (great performance that underplays the macho appeal he displayed in Kingsman) star with feel good direction from Dexter Fletcher, himself an actor with credits going back to Bugsy Malone.NE3w27wb5oFw5a_1_a

Triple 9 is police code for an officer down. A group of ex-mercenaries and corrupt cops perform high stakes robberies for Jewish Russian mobsters. Lines of loyalty are blurred and double crosses are rife.

Director John Hillcoat stages some convincing heists as well as an explosive shootout in an Atlanta barrio. A top-notch cast inspires confidence in the reality of the situations going down, but it’s the actors who are not on the poster who contribute the most chilling moments.

— Michael Bergeron