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I Like to Watch (Instantly): Moon, A Scanner Darkly

Notable minimalist science fiction titles from the Netflix Watch Instantly world

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Cast: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Matt Berry, Kaya Scodelario, Benedict Wong, Malcolm Stewart, Dominique McElligott, Robin Chalk, Rosie Shaw

“Sure, it’s minimalist, but it’s chic.”
“Sure, it’s minimalist, but it’s chic.”

Sam Rockwell (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) stars (in fact, is the only star) in this micro-budgeted sci-fi miracle. Rockwell plays an astronaut stuck on far side of the moon supervising a lonely mining station. One day, he stumbles across, well, himself. Is he going stir crazy or are other forces at work? Director Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie) has fashioned a smart, convincing slice of sci-fi minimalism here.

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Directed by Richard Linklater

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Woody Harrelson, Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr., Rory Cochrane, Jason Douglas, Heather Kafka, Dameon Clarke, Melody Chase, Mitch Baker

The future will be exactly like the present, only rotoscoped.
The future will be exactly like the present, only rotoscoped.

Adapting the books and short stories of Philip K. Dick is no easy task. Blade Runner is about the only good one and it has very little to do with Dick's original novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Nonetheless, Richard Linklater (Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Before Sunset) tries to infuse as much Dickian weirdness, paranoia and drug references as possible into this bleak, dreamlike animated feature. Keanu Reeves stars as either a drug addict living in near-future California or a high-tech undercover narcotics agent spying on the addict (or both, maybe). It's all a little hard to work out, because the film revels in the confusing and obscure. Still, the unusual rotoscope animation is very cool, and the entire exercise appropriately psychedelic. Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelson are also in there (in animated form).