Posts Tagged ‘Matt Damon’

The movie version of ‘The Martian’ is surprisingly relevant to our historical moment

February 28, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
Feb. 28, 2018

Mars isn’t a very hospitable environment for humans. It’s cold and it lacks breathable atmosphere, accessible water and arable soil. In short, you wouldn’t want to be left behind there by your five crewmates when your base is suddenly hit by a massive sandstorm and a piece of debris crushes your spacesuit transponder and knocks you out and renders them unable to find you as they’re staging a hasty retreat to orbit and the spacecraft that will carry them home to Earth.

However, that’s exactly what happens to astronaut Mark Watney at the start of The Martian. More than three years ago, regarding Andy Weir’s blog-turned-self-published-novel-turned-conventionally-published-best-seller The Martian, I wrote:

Watney, who’s well-trained and naturally innovative, jury-rigs a series of solutions to each of his problems using techniques and technology that I imagine would be available to someone in his situation. He recycles his bodily waste, converts the floors of his living quarters into a potato farm, and scavenges hardware in an effort to reconnect with Earth. Weir structures his book with an exciting, if somewhat predictable, problem-assessment-solution-resolution cycle that repeatedly gooses the tension levels.

Director Ridley Scott (AlienBlade RunnerGladiatorBlack Hawk Down and Prometheus, among many others) and screenwriter Drew Goddard (the horror movies CloverfieldThe Cabin in the WoodsWorld War Z and a number of TV shows) gave The Martian a faithful adaptation with their 2015 movie. As Watney, Matt Damon narrates some of the action, which — like the novel — falls into a predictable pattern over its middle third.

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Some degrees of separation: Not entirely random notes about Ben Affleck, Dennis Lehane and Christopher Nolan and blogging

December 19, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 19, 2014

One interesting thing about blogging that I learned this fall is that it helps me make connections — often completely unexpected ones.

I don’t just mean the kind of free-association stuff that happened in my car — well, in my head while I was driving — Wednesday night, which I wrote about yesterday. I mean things like actor-director Ben Affleck’s connection with novelist Dennis Lehane.

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George Clooney’s arty party can’t quite come together in tale of ‘The Monuments Men’ of World War II

February 8, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
Feb. 8, 2014

A sequence in The Monuments Men captures the key problem with the new feature directed, co-written by and starring George Clooney.

As sculptor Walter Garfield (John Goodman) and Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin) are questioning a clergyman about the fate of historic artwork stolen by the Nazis, a sniper begins shooting at them. Garfield and Clermont comically argue about which of them will provide suppressive fire and which will attempt to infiltrate the structure where the gunman is located. After that matter is settled, Clermont races toward a gutted building as Garfield covers him.

Once the Frenchman is inside, his fate comes down to whether he can outfox — and outshoot — the sniper. Clermont advances to the second floor, hugs a door frame and pivots, rifle-muzzle-first, into the space that he thinks contains the shooter. It’s empty.

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Ambitious mix of action sequences and social justice ideas fuel Neill Blomkamp’s dynamic ‘Elysium’

August 19, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 19, 2013

Elysium is an action-packed science-fiction film with a heart for social justice.

Sadly, this fun, dynamic film has no real clue how to go about achieving social justice in the real, non-cinematic world. Still, the fast-moving storyline and appealing characters go a long way toward making up for that rather significant flaw.

The second feature to be written and directed by Neill Blomkamp, following District 9Elysium shares a number of things with its 2009 predecessor. Both take place in dusty, dystopian, urban futures. In both movies, machines hovering above Earth contain wonders that most humans are eager to obtain — wonders that also threaten to exacerbate existing inequality.

Elysium is set in and above Los Angeles in the year 2154. The film is named after a luxurious orbiting space station to which our overpopulated and polluted planet’s aristocrats moved themselves some years previously. The film’s hero is one Max Da Costa (Matt Damon), an ex-con who has been trying to walk the straight and narrow.

Da Costa works in an immense factory owned by Armadyne Corp., an arms maker controlled by the Elysium-based John Carlyle. After Da Costa loses his job thanks to an industrial accident, he turns to a crime lord named Spider for help. Before too long, Da Costa is shooting down Carlyle’s personal transport in an attempt to download the secrets in his head.  Read the rest of this entry »

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