Posts Tagged ‘ Jessica Chastain ’

The Martian


The Martian
Release date: October 2, 2015
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig, Donald Glover, Sebastian Stan, Mackenzie Davis, Benedict Wong, Sean Bean

In the last three weeks, I have seen three films: Katti Batti (atrociously plodding), Everest (good), and The Intern (yawn-inducing level bore). I couldn’t find the time, and/or I wasn’t motivated enough to get my fingers to waltz on my keyboard. Hollywood’s fixation with delivering movies themed on the events that happen with stranded astronauts, continues. Gravity (2013) and Interstellar (2014) both came out in the fall season, and The Martian follows suit.

With the common link of a stranded astronaut being left behind, things are slightly different (obviously). Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is a botanist who’s a part of Commander Melissa Lewis’ space expedition team. While the entire team is feeling ut the surface of Mars, they’re struck by a storm. They attempt to escape, and on reaching inside the capsule, they presume that Mark is probably dead. Their journey continues and they move ahead. Watney is pronounced dead on national television by the director of NASA, Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels).

There’s just something about Teddy Sanders’ speeches that reminds me of Will McAvoy from ACN.

And Teddy does show some fine elocution.

Meanwhile in Mars, Mark is using staple guns to stitch him up, inventing water and ‘colonizing’ the ‘earth’ on the Red Planet. He’s stranded for days, weeks and months, and shows very little signs of fatigue, be it emotional or physical. It would be even wrong to expect a thoroughly trained space-hero to shed tears incessantly, but the head-on approach that Watney takes to living on Mars, right from day one is kinda beguiling and yet incredulous.

Mark Watney is also super-confident while recording his video log, he’s also witty. He’s the Chuck Norris and the temporarily vegetarian Bear Grylls. The focus shifts from his inventions and escapades to the continuous back and forth discussions between Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Sanders, and Bruce (Benedict Wong) on how to get Watney back.

Plans fail and plans are reworked. Kate Mara gets the sidekick romance with one of her crew members and Jessica Chastain loves Disco music. Big ups for the disco music though. Unpredictability is not a virtue that The Martian looks to aim for, it compromises in being fairly good with all its predictability.

There’s no major space mumbo jumbo here, just a simple story that throws a few surprises at you along the way.

My rating: *** (3 out of 5)



Release date: November 7, 2014 (India)
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Matthew McConaughey, John Lithgow, Mackenzie Foy, Timothée Chalamet, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, David Gyasi, Wes Bentley, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Bill Irwin, Josh Stewart

Christopher Nolan takes his love for intricate human interactions and his inquisition about the space-time continuum and presents a film so big it’s impossible to not be awed by it all. The story is being told via an older Murphy Cooper (Ellen Burstyn) and more senior inhabitants of a futuristic township.

In an agricultural town in the countryside, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a widowed father of two who lives with his father-in-law Donald (John Lithgow); Cooper and Donald both agree how the mankind has come down to only sustaining itself by any means possible and how it was different earlier when some invention came out every day. But their local college wants more farmers, and not engineers.

Cooper’s ten year old daughter Murphy (Timothée Chalamet) shares his love for science. Professor Brand (Michael Caine) convinces Cooper into joining a space mission to trace some of their other already intergalactic researchers and also search for more planets where humans can possibly migrate to. To survive, to die or even just suffocate. Cooper is accompanied by Brand’s daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway), Romilly (David Gyasi) and Doyle (Wes Bentley) along with TARS, a talking robot (voiced by Bill Irwin)

The Nolan brothers take the often raised complaint of being anti-humorous and present us with a robot that has an inherent humor setting of 75 per cent. Yet, humor is not what they aim for. Interstellar is magnanimous in its scale of emotions, breathtaking visuals, and some over-simplified moments of scientific walls being broken.  The dialogues aren’t as remarkable or memorable as most of Nolan’s other creations. The only one without an overbearing sense of existentialism that has stayed with me so far is, “Parents are the ghosts of their children’s futures.”

You don’t have to be a major in science to understand everything that goes on in the space shuttle, and on alien planets, as the characters spell out most of the technical mumbo-jumbo for you. To a point that it becomes irritating by the end. Without a doubt, the sight of space scientists watching videos from their loved ones, sent over the years, will make you weep. I wept! From there on, the makers take the liberty of neglecting such strong exchanges and prefer to stay focused on the juxtaposing stories of general struggle to live on earth and on new planets.

There are minute sub-themes running under the plot to provide more insight into the possible future of the earth, the uncertain utilization of time as a dimension which could be turned back and similar tales of inebriated, vague discussions. For what it’s worth, for great lengths of the film, you will not remember that you’re watching just another movie. And that is what renders an epic feel to the entire endeavor. Hans Zimmer’s score is on point as usual, often creating more of a visual than extensive shots of objects revolving around planets. The wonders of extra-terrestrial bodies are subtle, some cliched and some marvelous. Look out for the giant wave!

McConaughey is sublime in his soon-to-be repetitive purring speech pattern. He displays relative longing and the bravado and survival skills of an explorer extremely well. Hathaway is understated with her anxious Amelia. While Jessica Chastain as the older Murphy is persistently passionate in her performance, no matter how limited her character’s screen space is.

Interstellar gives you hope, makes you ponder why aren’t we thinking of the stars, and why aren’t we looking beyond the usual. For that alone, the film becomes more important than it is.

My rating: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5)

Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty
Release date: February 15, 2013 (India)
Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Ehle, Reda Kateb, Kyle Chandler

Disclaimer: Given the delay in the date of release, I’ll keep the review short and refined.

Zero Dark Thirty is a period film on the “War on Terror” waged by the United States of America in the post-9/11 phase capturing the successive global terror activities and the eventual killing of Osama bin Laden. On closer perception, it is the story of CIA officer Maya’s (Jessica Chastain) sole determination: she’s focused on leads based on Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts ever since she got out of high school.

It is also the story of Maya’s struggle: being placed at the ground base in Pakistan at a young age, and losing a close accomplice, Jessica (Jennifer Ehle) to a suicide bomber inside the well-protected CIA camp. Consequently, it is also the story of Maya’s belief in her gut or practically speaking, her research in the form of her insistence on Osama’s presence in Abbottabad.

The detailing is excellent here. Bigelow captures the minutest of emotions in the torture cells, Marriott blasts and almost everywhere else. The geographical and linguistic specifications are very precise and authentic. The narrative also makes use of the major events such as London blasts, Invasion of Iraq, the WMD disaster, Marriott blasts along with the Empire State bomb findings.

Jessica Chastain and Reda Kateb snatch away all the acting honours in this film. Chastain is believably real and convincingly feisty in her portrayal of her character. There aren’t any major breathing gaps to fill the frames in between, but the writing keeps the narrative dry enough to not let the viewer slack off. The raid at the end is distinctly engaging, depicting the simultaneous rage of contradicting emotions where the SEALs come across innocent children and women inside bin Laden’s house.

The final shot is perhaps the most apt visual of this entire saga. Maya is on a plane, and the pilot asks her for the destination and she ironically remains silent and starts weeping. Bigelow’s direction is complemented perfectly by Greig Fraser’s cinematography. Possibly, the only brickbats the film faces are for the editing team, (Sorry Katheryn, you face the brunt too.) The timing of a few cuts and the overall pacing is damaged in the process.

Notwithstanding the flaws,  Zero Dark Thirty is not just a great history film, it’s also one of the finest films of our times.

My rating: ****1/2

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