Tag: Jessica Chastain

A most excellent film

Thursday, 26 March, 2015 0 Comments

According to statistics, 1981 was the most dangerous year in the history of New York City. This, then, is the time and the place in which director J.C. Chandor stages A Most Violent Year. Crime is rampant, corruption is rife, danger lurks on the mean streets and the winter cold is pervasive. Despite these obstacles, Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) is determined to corner a share of the oil heating industry. His wife, Anna (Jessica Chastain), comes from Mafia stock and is the power behind the throne, but she has her Mrs Macbeth moments of doubt about her man. He lacks the native killer instinct needed to survive in America’s concrete jungle, she feels. Yes, he’s handsome, clever and ambitious, but he refuses to carry a gun. She is wrong, of course, and one of the great things about this film is that it shows how little we understand each other, no matter the intensity of our relationships.

Abel Morales: “You should know that I have always taken the path that is most right. The result is never in question for me. Just what path do you take to get there? There is always one that is most right. And that is what this is.”


Current reading: The Martian

Monday, 8 December, 2014 0 Comments

The Martian “I guess I should explain how Mars missions work, for any layman who may be reading this. We got to Earth orbit the normal way, through an ordinary ship to Hermes. All the Ares missions use Hermes to get to and from Mars. It’s really big and cost a lot so NASA built only one.

Once we got to Hermes, four additional unmanned missions brought us fuel and supplies while we prepared for our trip. Once everything was a go, we set out for Mars. But not very fast. Gone are the days of heavy chemical fuel burns and trans-Mars injection orbits.”

So says the narrator of The Martian by Andy Weir. The book has been a commercial and critical success: The Wall Street Journal called it “the best pure sci-fi novel in years,” and the film version, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain, will be released in November next year.

The book is more topical than ever, considering the spectacular success of the Orion spacecraft, which soared into space on Friday before splashing down on target in the Pacific ocean. NASA says that Orion is destined to be the first of a fleet that will carry humans beyond the Moon to Mars. Opponent say that putting humans into space is futile, expensive, dangerous and ultimately harmful to science. They argue that robot craft represent the future of space exploration. It’s a debate that’s bound to get more heated in the coming years and The Martian offers a cautionary message:

The Ares Program. Mankind reaching out to Mars to send peo­ple to another planet for the very first time and expand the hori­zons of humanity blah, blah, blah. The Ares 1 crew did their thing and came back heroes. They got the parades and fame and love of the world.

Ares 2 did the same thing, in a different location on Mars. They got a firm handshake and a hot cup of coffee when they got home.

Ares 3. Well, that was my mission. Okay, not mine per se. Com­mander Lewis was in charge. I was just one of her crew. Actually, I was the very lowest ranked member of the crew. I would only be “in command” of the mission if I were the only remaining person.

What do you know? I’m in command.

I wonder if this log will be recovered before the rest of the crew die of old age. I presume they got back to Earth all right. Guys, if you’re reading this: It wasn’t your fault. You did what you had to do. In your position I would have done the same thing. I don’t blame you, and I’m glad you survived.


Geronimo

Thursday, 14 February, 2013 0 Comments

And the Best Actress Oscar goes to Jessica Chastain for her performance in Zero Dark Thirty as a CIA agent ferociously fixated on finding the courier bringing messages to Osama bin Laden’s lair. The director-writer team of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal have made an enthralling chronicle of the hunt that ended in Pakistan on […]

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