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Found 2 results

  1. I would normally never watch a film such as "The Martian," (an implausible Hollywood blockbuster about a crazy thing), but a trusted friend saw it, and told me I might like it more than I'd think (actually, the exact words were, "The Martian was not a great film. But my expectations were very low, and it surpassed them. It was amusing escapism on a day when I really needed some"), so given that I like to remain at least somewhat in touch with popular culture, why not? Plus, I've liked Matt Damon ever since "Good Will Hunting," - an underachieving film that has an interesting premise, sort of like Patrick Swayze in "Roadhouse" (a black-belt "cooler" who drives a Mercedes 560SEC and has a degree in Philosophy?) Plus, sometimes you have to just enjoy cheap (actually, not-so-cheap) escapism for its own sake, you know what I mean? Some of these tidbits I got from, or was inspired by, Amazon X-Ray, so instead of citing each of them, I'll give a global citation here. I mention Amazon X-Ray in greater detail here. In the opening credits, the title "THE MARTIAN" slowly fades away, but the bottom part of the "T" in Martian lingers on the screen by itself for about one second, forming an "I." This is both similar to what happened in Alien (the letters fading), and obviously a foreshadowing of what is about to occur in the movie. The spaceship in The Martian is named Hermes, the Greek God of Scarves and Neckties, and also the Protector of Travelers. The Roman equivalent of Hermes is Mercury. The Latin name for Mark (Mark Watney is Matt Damon's character) is Marcus, which means, "of Mars." I have to admit that when Watney pulled the object out from inside of him (which I think might have been some vague tribute to the infamous scene in Ridley Scott's "Alien"), and was sitting in the chair, staring at the ceiling, with his predicament slowly dawning on him, and he said, "Fuck," I laughed out loud. So far (I'm writing this as I watch), I like the comic relief in this movie, e.g., when Mark threw up his arms in triumph while working with hydrazine. In the preview for The Martian, which I first saw many months before it was released, they used the eye-rolling line, "I'm going to have to science the shit out of this." That was so off-putting to me that it, alone, made me not want to see the film. In context of the movie, it was *still* an eye-rolling line - horrible - but not *as* bad as it was in the trailer, stripped of all context and previous events. These people know what they're doing: This line might have lost my demographic as a potential audience, but it probably gained ten-times as many people in other demographics. Okay, I'm an hour into this movie, with about eighty minutes remaining. I am predicting - but do not know - that Mark will be saved, because ... how can he *not* be? Hollywood is a mega-business, and a tragic ending would be bad for business (and it would have surely leaked out very early on). In an indie art film? Sure, but not here. No way. Just once, I'd love to see an ending like Tosca in a Hollywood nine-figure blockbuster, where the lead character drops dead right before the final curtain falls. It would make for better suspense going forward. As a final thought, I can see how watching The Martian would make the life of someone who is trapped in a prison, or a wheelchair, or a dungeon, or some other place of absolute solitude a little more bearable, giving them just an extra ounce of hope, knowing (or even fantasizing) that as long as you're still breathing, nothing is impossible. When I first saw the trailer for The Martian, I never dreamed that I would actually watch it, much less like it, but I liked The Martian a lot more than I thought I would.
  2. When I was young, I saw Roots (1977) and Holocaust (1978), and they were both very hard on me, nearly impossible to finish. But I don't think any film or series has been more difficult for me to watch than 12 Years A Slave (2013). It took me two days to get through it, and I'm surprised I did (I simply cannot watch people being tortured, even if it's "just a movie.") SPOILERS Perhaps the most amazing thing about this film is that, for a couple of hours, it made *me* a slave. From the time Solomon Northup woke up in chains, up until the time when I was mercifully allowed to see Brad Pitt (a character who I've never been so relieved to see in a movie), I was immersed in sheer Hell. It was as close to a visceral reaction as I've ever had from a film. This movie is tough, tough going, and spares nothing in terms of brutality. I have never wanted to jump through a movie screen, and choke the living shit out of people, as much as I wanted to with 12 Years A Slave. I once asked a friend of mine if he watched Shoah. "Yes, I watched the whole thing because I promised myself I would," he said. This is sort of like that - if you want movie-watching pleasure, steer well-clear of 12 Years A Slave, but if you're looking to examine things in this world, you owe it to about twelve-million people to suffer through, and suffer you will. Some quotes that resonate with me: "It's a film made for a mass audience, but it doesn't want them to feel comfortable for a second." -- Tom Huddleston, TimeOut.com "It's the unhappiest happy ending I've ever seen ...." -- Dana Stevens, Slate.com "It is a film that necessity and education demand seeing." -- David Thompson, The New Republic "I've never seen a sequence [referring to the extended hanging punishment scene] that so elegantly uses duration to lay out an ecosystem of power and powerlessness ...." -- Wesley Morris, Grantland.com "Indeed, it's embarrassing for America that a British director, Steve McQueen ("Shame"), should have had to make this film at all, and that in 2013 it should constitute a breakthrough in cinema for American slavery to be depicted as something entirely evil." -- Mick LaSalle, SFgate.com There will be more, but I need a break.
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