IT WAS A MAD DASH TO finish up the chores I had before the telecast began. I had an appointment in the morning, food shopping in the afternoon, preparing food for the week, packing up my gym bag and laying out my work clothes before the show. I finished up 5 minutes prior and quickly nestled myself into the sofa to see the return of not one but three hosts for the Oscar telecast. The opening of the show with the Williams sisters introducing Beyonce was a well-played move by the producers of the show. Let me first say Beyonce has a wonderful voice and knows how to deliver a song. However, I feel every performance of hers recently must be a big production with a multitude of people and large settings. At a live concert, I appreciate when the musical artist mixes up the songs so that there are some intimate moments in between the bigger song productions. I wish Beyonce would just come out on stage and sing the heck out of a song. NEXT UP WERE THE 3 HOSTS: Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall. I respect all three and have enjoyed the performances I have seen them in. With Amy and Wanda being more of a comedienne, where they can do standup comedy, I felt the three of them were a bit awkward working with each other. There were jokes that hit the mark, but I thought Regina’s bit concerning the testing of male movie stars went on too long. Because I think the three women, especially Wanda and Amy, have great comedic timing, I would have enjoyed their opening more if they had been given leeway to adlib and perform more like it was one of their stand-up shows. As the first award category was coming up, I realized my excitement in seeing the show was not at its usual level. The main reason was the fact I had not seen all the major nominated films, like Coda. There was a layer of sadness from this but also from the fact that some categories’ nominees were given their awards prior to the show. To me, everyone who works on a film is equally as important as their fellow workers. It takes a group of people to bring a story to life on the big screen. I know the academy made this decision in the hope of keeping the telecast tight and on time. Well, I have to say it did not make a difference to me. THE DURATION OF THE SHOW WAS something I was aware of due to it being slow in my opinion. Doing a big number of a non-nominated song from a nominated film made no sense to me, wasting more time. I am upset that I even must address this since it has already sucked all the air out of the room; but Will Smith should have been removed from the theater. Violence solves nothing and correct me if I am wrong, but when the camera cut to Will and Jada after the joke, it looked as if Will was chuckling until he saw Jada’s sour look on her face. Then suddenly in testosterone mode, Will has to get up and defend Jada’s honor? Do not get me wrong, no one and I mean no one should ever make fun of any individual who suffers from an infliction. Maybe Chris knew or maybe he forgot. A better option would have been Will making a statement after the show or confronting Chris off camera. Since he was the frontrunner for best actor, I feel the academy stood paralyzed in what actions they could have done. Since Will did win, he could have easily made a statement during his acceptance speech and turn this episode into a real learning moment. What he did instead was to ramble on without taking full responsibility for his actions and not apologizing to Chris and the public who were stuck watching his foul-mouthed tirade. Yesterday the academy said they are starting an investigation and now today, Will comes out with a prepared apology to Chris. Can we say damage control here? What upsets me is the focus is off the films and on Will’s actions. My time is valuable as well as yours, who wants to listen to this stuff. FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE TELECAST one could tell things were off kilter; though, I loved Amy’s joke about taking too long to undress from her Spiderman outfit, asking if she missed anything. I felt the choices for the winners made sense and I was fine with them. One thing I have a hard time with is when celebrities in a confused state are brought onto the stage for a tribute or to speak in front the audience. It was obvious there was some confusion going on with Liza Minnelli. However, I will give credit to Lady Gaga for handling it in such a way as to maintain Liza’s dignity. But as I was cozy on the couch, I could not help feeling like I found a precious jewel that had a flaw in it. The value of it was lessened and my enjoyment level was not at its usual peak. Having gone past its scheduled time and with the feelings I was experiencing, as soon as they said goodnight I jumped up and quickly got ready to go to bed. This telecast will always be remembered for the poor behavior and lack of respect on display. They are movies, pure entertainment and that is all I want out of them. I hope the academy can get to a place where this show once again is a celebration of movies instead of a display of egos.
IT WAS NOT UNUSUAL TO HAVE knocking on my front door, but it was strange to have a stranger standing there when I opened the door. I was living off campus in a 6 storied, student housing building. There was a property manager who lived on the ground floor, but all the apartments were for students; married students would live in the corner units of the building because they were 2-bedroom apartments. I was living in a studio apartment, or I should say one room with a bathroom, like most the students on the floor. Each floor had a common kitchen that the residents on the floor would share. It was nothing to knock on a door and ask a fellow student for something; however, on this day there was a middle-aged woman standing at my door. She was dressed in a long skirt and a light jacket over a white blouse that had a bow up around her neck. Her arm was hugging a pile of pamphlets close to her chest. She had a warm smile despite seeing the shocked look on my face when I opened my door. My first thought was thinking she was doing a survey for the university because I did not understand how she got through the security door in the building’s lobby. I SAID, “HELLO, HOW CAN I help you?” As she introduced herself, she handed me one of her pamphlets. The front of it was illustrated in such a way to make me think it was an advertisement for a children’s book. She asked if she could tell me about her god. I declined the offer, saying I practice a different religion. Without losing her smile, she said her god would save me. Right then my attitude changed because I found her statement offensive. I believed ever person’s religion should be respected and that one was not better than another. I explained to her I was not interested, but it was nice to meet her as I closed my door. It has always puzzled me how people think their religion is the best or the “right” one. If memory serves me correctly, I think there are only three religions that do not actively seek out people to convert them over to their religion. It is one thing to be open and expressive about one own’s religion, but the idea of seeking out people to say they will not go to heaven or be with their god because of their religion is wrong in my book. I feel more strongly about it after seeing this Oscar nominated, biographical drama. UPON MEETING THE MAN SHE WOULD later marry, young Tammy Faye, played by Jessica Chastain (The 355, Molly’s Game) would wind up experiencing more than she ever imagined one could while being a good Christian. With Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge; tick, tick…BOOM!) as Jim Bakker, Cherry Jones (Ocean’s Twelve, The Perfect Storm) as Rachel Grover, Vincent D’Onofrio (The Unforgivable, The Judge) as Jerry Falwell and Mark Wystrach (Road to Red, Scavengers) as Gary Paxton; this film based on a true story excelled due to Jessica, Cherry and Andrew. They saved the script that I found to be a bit too sanitized, considering what was going on during the times when Jim and Tammy Faye were growing their business. At times, I felt Jessica was on the verge of being a caricature but then she would reel it in during the next scene. I will say the script does not put the religious conservatives in a good light; if what was shown was true, I was taken aback with the backroom antics of the religious leaders in this story. Not only was this an entertaining picture for the most part, but it also reaffirmed my feelings about those who preach their way is the right way.
WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, THE INDIVIDUALS I did not like knew it. I do not know why, but I felt it was my responsibility to put them in their place. If someone was a braggart, I would find a way to knock them down a couple of rungs. Not that I was proud or that it was an achievement on my part, but I used to be the best when it came to holding a grudge. So, if I encountered someone who I had a negative interaction with previously, they knew along with everyone else in the room that I would have nothing to do with them, to the point of completely ignoring them. No so much as a hello or the nod of my head for acknowledgement, I would purposely hover around them without engaging them into any of my conversations with the other guests. Even if they added a comment to the conversation, I would simply talk over them or remain silent. Of course, the other people within the conversation would realize I was ignoring the individual; but they never would make a comment, let alone try to push me to engage with the unwanted person. Out in the real world this was easy for me to do and maintain; but in the work world, I knew I could not act out in the same fashion. MY GUIDING FORCE WHEN IT COMES to dealing with conflict between employees is remembering that the company comes first. There is nothing more important to me than maintaining a company’s good name. I used to work with a miserable individual who felt everyone around them was stupid, that he was the only smart one. I had a couple of run-ins with him where he tried to get me in trouble. From that point on I decided I would totally ignore him. He got the message quickly when he tried to engage me in small talk; I just looked at him, got up from my desk and walked out of the room. With that being said, when it came to asking anything about company business I would cordially respond. That was the only time I would interact with him, company business. Let us face it, I do not think there is anyone who likes and gets along with every person they meet; there always will be someone that is disliked. I have learned in the work environment to put personal opinions to the side, work with whoever you need to work with, to get the job done. This is the philosophy one can see in this action thriller. THE BEST WAY TO CAPTURE A top-secret weapon for CIA agent Mace, played by Jessica Chastain (Crimson Peak, Molly’s Game), would be to join forces with her counterparts from other international agencies; but would she be able to trust them. With Penelope Cruz (Pain and Glory, The Counselor) as Graciela Rivera, Bingbing Fan (X-Men: Days of future Past, Lady of the Dynasty) as Lin Mi Sheng, Diane Kruger (In the Fade, National Treasure franchise) as Marie Schmidt and Jason Flemyng (Deep Rising, From Hell) as Elijah Clarke; this movie’s selling point was having a strong female group who could act, leading this story. The fight scenes were bloody and violent, with an authentic look to them. I did not mind the story’s plotline, but there really was nothing new to it. I have seen similar films that were a lot better in dealing with the spy stuff. There was a nice twist to the story; however, the script did not add to the characters. Personally, I think the writers could have gone to a deeper intensity level which would have made this picture more engaging. There was only a mild curiosity on my part, that got dulled by the poorly written script.
I DO NOT REMEMBER HOW OLD I was at the time; but I do remember I ate the whole thing. It was the first time I had been to one of those ice cream shops where you serve yourself. They had my favorite type of ice cream, soft serve that comes out of a machine in a long tubular shape. As soon as I saw the machine, I grabbed one of the larger sized cups. Even in my thrilled state I did have the sense to realize that the cup I was holding was much larger than the average “large” cup; I stopped filling it up just past the halfway mark. From there I walked down to the toppings station. As I scanned the assortment of treats, I felt I was at a dessert sweet table at a wedding reception because there were so many choices. I think because I had control over the amount of toppings, I could put on my ice cream, my brain went a little haywire; please do not judge me. If memory serves me, I spooned on chocolate sprinkles, crushed cookies, chocolate and peanut butter chips, candy coated chocolate candies and for extra crunch, some granola. By the time I was done my cup was completely full. I walked up to the checkout counter where the employee took my cup and weighed it! This was new to me; I had never had my ice cream order weighed before. My creation costed me $21.36. MY SUGAR HIGH LASTED WELL INTO the night from my ice cream creation, or should I say massacre? When I finally crashed, I came down hard, feeling tired and lethargic. First of all, I had never spent that much on ice cream before and that included the gallon size containers from the grocery store. Everything was fresh and tasted good; however, when they were all mixed into the ice cream their individual flavors got lost. I was essentially eating crunchy chocolate with a hint of peanut butter. The sprinkles that remind me of my youth were lost within the meteor shower of sugary chunks. I learned a valuable lesson: less is more. If I would have focused on one or two toppings, I could have savored their individuality, for example chocolate sprinkles and peanut butter chips. It is true what they say, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” Sure, I chose all my favorite toppings, but I could have been smarter about it. And I certainly know it would have been cheaper for me! This lesson is something the writers needed to learn before creating this action, crime drama film. COOL AND EFFICIENT IS HOW ONE would describe trained assassin Ava, played by Jessica Chasten (Miss Sloane, Molly’s Game). After one job went wrong, she got a new description, Wanted. Her survival would depend on her skills. With John Malkovich (Bird Box, RED franchise) as Duke, Common (Suicide Squad, The Hate U Give) as Michael, Geena Davis (Marjorie Prime, Thelma & Louise) as Bobbi and Jess Weixler (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby franchise, The Good Wife-TV) as Judy; this story had the good fortune to have such a talented cast. However, the cast could not help with the piecemeal story lines which there were too many of. I felt pieces of other action films were put into the script and they did not play well together. The action scenes in this picture were decent but that only went so far before the heavy script slowed things down. There was nothing new or exciting in this story; as I was watching this movie, there were multiple scenes that reminded me of different films I had seen before. In its entirety, this was not a well thought out movie; there was way too much involved and not enough long-lasting excitement.
1 ¾ stars
I KNEW THERE WOULD BE A CHANCE I would either have to ride in the ambulance with the paramedics or drive and meet them at the hospital, when I dialed 911. This was not what I expected when I drove over to check on a friend. I arrived at his house to find him acting confused and lethargic. Offering to make soup or some toast, he could not make up his mind. Instead, he told me he needed to pay some bills. I looked at him carefully, hoping to see some telltale sign to explain what was going on with him. With my imagination I was already checking off in my mind the list of possibilities that could explain my friend’s symptoms. Though I hoped things would calm down and return to some semblance of order, it was not to be the case. When he leaned into me and went limp, I had to support him as I led him down to the floor. Whatever fears I had about ambulances and hospitals was put on the side as I called for help. It seemed like only a minute before the paramedics arrived at the house. The lead man asked me what was going on with my friend; I went over the series of events that led up to me calling them for help. It was decided that my friend be taken to the hospital and that I should meet him there. AS I DROVE TO THE HOSPITAL I glanced at the time on the dashboard and realized I was already past my bedtime. There was nothing I could do about it, so I made the conscious decision not to look at the time anymore. I kept telling myself I at least had my car with me instead of having to ride in the ambulance. The idea of seeing medics working on my friend gave me the chills. I do not think anyone likes being in a hospital and I am no exception. With the germs and sicknesses, besides all the medical procedures, I strongly dislike having to be in a hospital and now I was willingly driving myself to one. All my fears had to be contained or at least not interfere with what I needed to do for my friend. My anxiety increased as I entered the emergency room. I did not have time to think about what was going on because I was led to my friend’s room, where the doctor informed me it was a good thing I called for help. It just goes to show you there are times when one must put everything aside to do the right thing. The friends in this horror film certainly understood this concept. IT HAD BEEN 27 YEARS SINCE the town of Derry experienced such an evil being. The group of old schoolfriends who encountered him back then vowed they would return to their hometown if he ever showed up again. Now that he did, they would have to overcome their fears if they were going to have any chance of succeeding in ridding the town of him. With Jessica Chastain (Dark Phoenix, Molly’s Game) as Beverly Marsh, James McAvoy (Atomic Blonde, The Last Station) as Bill Denbrough, Bill Hader (The To Do List, The Skeleton Twins) as Richie Tozier, Isaiah Mustafa (Horrible Bosses, Shadowhunters-TV) as Mike Hanlon and Jay Ryan (Go Girls-TV, Beauty and the Beast-TV) as Ben Hanscom; the casting for this movie could not have been better. Each adult actor was perfect as the grownup school child. Bill Hader was the big standout for me. What surprised me about this sequel was the fact it was more story driven than a series of horrific episodes. There still was blood and violence in several scenes but I thought the adult kids’ story lines were interesting. Clocking in at 2 hours and 49 minutes, the script needed some editing because this film was too long. Granted I was engaged most of the time, but there were a few slow sections in the script that could have been deleted. My fear of sitting through a series of gory horror scenes subsided as the story unfolded on the big screen.
2 ½ stars
THE FIRST TIME I traveled to Las Vegas my friends explained what I needed to do to play Blackjack. I already knew how to play but I was not familiar with the non-verbal communication between dealer and player. There were hand signals I needed to know; such as a quick drag of two fingers towards me on the felted playing board meant I wanted another card or moving my hand above my cards in a horizontal way meant no more cards. What they did not tell me was how fast the game would go once I was seated. When I flew out and got settled into my hotel room I went downstairs into the casino, confident I would remember all the different signs I was taught. I had $30.00 worth of chips (yeah, I am a big spender) and stacked them in front of me like everyone else did at the blackjack table; I did not want them to know I was a newbie, though I am sure it showed on me. In approximately 6 minutes I lost all of my chips. EVER SINCE THAT TIME I have never gambled again at any of the tables in Las Vegas. That feeling of giving my money to a business and not getting anything in return was one I never wanted to feel again. Sure there are some people who are lucky or even skilled that walk away with more money than what they started with, but I am not one of those individuals. It is funny because I knew several people who more times than not came home with extra money no matter the venue. Now I will tell you I enjoy watching the people in Las Vegas gamble because it is fascinating to see how much money goes into play at some of the tables. I stand there and try to figure out what these people do for a living, where they can make $1000.00+ bets. The other aspect that intrigues me is the camaraderie that forms between some of the players. I am not familiar with which game it is, but there is one where all the people sitting at the table are rooting for one particular player. Everyone cheers depending on what that player did and you would swear these people have no care in the world. It is a foreign concept to me and despite my lack of knowledge I was captivated by this biographical drama. FROM A RANDOM NON-DESCRIPT job former Olympic class skier Molly Bloom, played by Jessica Chastain (The Zookeeper’s Wife, Crimson Peak), took a chance in hopes it would pay off big. The game was poker and she was determined to come out on top. Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, The West Wing-TV) I thought the script was smart and precise. It was certainly adult dialog though at times I thought it was getting too wordy. With Idris Elba (The Mountain Between Us, Thor franchise) as Charlie Jaffey, Kevin Costner (Hidden Figures, Black or White) as Larry Bloom and Michael Cera (Superbad, Juno) as Player X; I thought the acting was of a high caliber. Jessica was amazing in this role and I felt Kevin put in one of his better performances. The story was incredible and I found myself getting into the nitty gritty of the poker games. I did not feel there was any lag time between any of the scenes; each one offered something of interest to watch and hear. Due to the high level of acting in this picture, I do not think you will lose if you choose to gamble on seeing this film.
3 ½ stars
SEEING a person willingly jump out of an airplane could elicit one of two responses: the individual is courageous or crazy. Though there is no way I would ever go skydiving, I would not judge someone who wants to experience such an activity. As I go through my daily life I am constantly witnessing acts of courage. There is the individual who admits to being out of shape, who comes to a fitness class, because they want to make a change in their life. The blind person who is navigating down a crowded, noisy city street or the parent who gets sick on roller coasters, sitting next to their child who is thrilled to be on the ride with their parent; to me all of these individuals are courageous and strong. There are so many other examples of courage that I could write about but it would take up all of my time today. FOR the past several months I have viewed news reports with an eye to the future. The news segments can range from peaceful protesters to refuges to the environment; I look at each one of these and am usually amazed at the amount of courage an individual has in the face of life or death, let alone the person who is willing to make a stand against injustice. Thinking back to some of the famous scientists who left their homeland for a better life or to just stay alive, there is something to be said for that individual’s braveness. Imagine if the scientist was not strong enough or courageous enough to leave a place where they were being persecuted; how different would the world have turned out? Whether a person actively engages in a cause or donates time or money to it, for them they are acting in a courageous way. One cannot necessarily compare different acts of courage; however, some do take on more risk and this movie based on a true story shows you how much risk one person was willing to take to make a difference. AFTER German forces took control of Warsaw they set up a camp in the middle of Antonia and Jan Zabinski’s, played by Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane, The Martian) and Johan Heldenbergh (The Broken Circle Breakdown, The Misfortunates), zoo and got rid of most of the animals. The couple formed an idea that could save lives but they needed the zoo to remain open. This biographic drama was powered with Jessica’s acting. She was the dominant force in this film, though other actors such as Daniel Bruhl (Rush, Woman in Gold) as Lutz Heck and Shira Haas (Princess, A Tale of Love and Darkness) as Urszula still drew my attention to them. The story was amazing, frightening, tragic and a few other adjectives. I will say the script did not come up to what I felt could have been a more powerful story. There were a few scenes that I am willing to bet were created simply for dramatic effect. This produced an odd seesawing effect between intensity and sweetness; for entertainment value it was okay but the story deserved more intensity in my opinion. Regardless, to see Jessica acting in this courageous story was time well spent.
2 ¾ stars
They share similar features, have the same inflection in their voice, with mannerisms that are alike, even from the same gene pool; yet they are nothing like each other. This is something that has always fascinated me: the similarities and differences between siblings. I always wanted to figure out what were the factors that caused brothers and sisters to turn out the way they did when they were from the same parents. One of the obvious things to me was the birthing order because I strongly believe there is unique baggage in being an older, middle or younger sibling. I have seen families who blatantly treated their first born child differently compared to their 2nd born. From the people I know who were the youngest of their siblings I know some people claim this group was spoiled the most by their parents. I do not totally agree with this; I just think by the time the youngest of at least 3 children have been born, the parents were too tired to care about the same things they once did with their older children. Personally I am not a fan of dressing up one’s children in the same clothing; I feel it takes a bit away from a child’s identity. Now when siblings display strong reactions towards each other, I have to wonder what took place in their childhood that caused such negative feelings towards each other. It is so perplexing to me that I notice when I am introduced socially to new people I tend to ask them at some point if they have any siblings. You should hear some of the responses I have gotten, but nothing that matches the siblings’ story in this fantasy adventure drama. AFTER suffering a horrific loss Freya, played by Emily Blunt (Sicario, Into the Woods), decided to leave her older sister Ravenna, played by Charlize Theron (Young Adult, Mad Max: Fury Road), and stake out her own land where she would be the sole ruler. Her kingdom would have one major law: falling in love was not allowed. The special effects in this action film were certainly fun to watch with the actors. Besides Charlize and Emily there was Chris Hemsworth (In the Heart of the Sea, Thor franchise) as Eric and Jessica Chastain (Crimson Peak, A Most Violent Year) as Sara. I was stoked to see this cast especially in the fight scenes; however, the dull script ruined the already poorly thought out story. I could not believe two actresses like Emily and Charlize were not given more powerful dramatic scenes that they could easily have handled. With the multiple story lines I do not know if this picture was a prequel or sequel; it was totally baffling to me. The writers and director could have created a wild fantasy franchise but for me this movie was a bust. I do not know about you, but I have seen more sparks and drama at a family dysfunction.
1 ¾ stars
When one experiences a traumatic change in their life, the person should hold off on making any life altering decisions. I remember hearing this advice a long time ago and did not quite comprehend the magnitude of it. In the past when something rough happened to me I used to binge on food; I know, a classic case of stuffing one’s feelings. I have not done that in manny, many years. As I matured I started to understand the meaning of that wisdom and would force myself to have a pause in my life, to contemplate the issue and look for a solution or allow myself to go through the grieving process. There was one horrible breakup I went through where I did not leave the house for a few days, doing a marathon of movies on DVD. It actually helped me come to terms with the changes that took place. I realized I did not have control over them, learned how to acknowledge my feelings then worked at eventually letting them go. No one can tell you what to do during such times; I believe a person has to come to terms with their emotions. Though I will say I appreciated listening to the different advice my friends were offering me. Unfortunately I had a friend who was not in a space to listen to others when her long term boyfriend decided to end their relationship. She spiraled down into a deep depression. However in a matter of several weeks she all of a sudden introduced me to her new boyfriend. I thought it was rather quick and became more concerned after a couple of months later she told me she was going to marry him. I knew this was going to be trouble just as I knew there was trouble brewing in this dramatic fantasy film. AFTER the tragic loss of her father Edith Cushing, played by Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, Jane Eyre), married and moved out of the country with businessman Thomas Sharpe, played by Tom Hiddleston (Thor franchise, Only Lovers Left Alive), to live on his estate. His mansion came with some dark secrets. Written and directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim), this horror film was utterly gorgeous with sumptuous sets and period pieced costumes. The actors including Jessica Chastain (The Martian, A Most Violent Year) as Lucille Sharpe and Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim, Children of Men) as Dr. Alan McMichael were all wonderful in spite of the dull story. With such elaborate sets and scenery I really had hoped the story was going to be a strong gothic suspense drama. There was very little intensity throughout the film as if everything had fallen into a middle of the road type of mentality. Not to take anything away from the actors but due to the script, I found the house to be one of the strongest characters out of the movie.
2 1/3 stars
I always want to be respectful of people’s feelings, even when I know with pain and discomfort it is all about perspective. Someone complaining about a nasty paper cut is something I can understand and sympathize along with the person. However, compared to someone having a limb amputated due to disease, the paper cut appears pretty minor; it is all about perspective. Last week was a challenging time for me. I am still a novice when it comes to doing things that are computer related and I had 2 online courses that had to be completed by October 1st. Without formal training on how to navigate the website, I felt lost as I struggled to find my way to taking and completing the courses. In fact on one site, every time after I logged in and clicked on the course title I was brought back to the login screen. Even trying it on a different computer and operating system ended with the same results; it was absolutely frustrating as I had to work with the site’s help desk as the clock was ticking. At the same time my day job was getting busier as we approached month end, so my mind was being heavily taxed to say the least. And if that was not enough I thought a birthday gift I had ordered online was missing as the birthdate was fast approaching. By the time Friday end of work rolled around it took all my energy just to go park the car and buy my theater ticket to see this dramatic adventure film. Right from the start my problems quickly disappeared as I saw what the main character had to endure in his situation. ABANDONED and left for dead astronaut Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon (Interstellar, Saving Private Ryan), realized he had to find a way to contact NASA and his crew before his food and supplies would run out. Mars was not going to be helpful in his endeavor. From director Ridley Scott (American Gangster, Black Hawk Down), this science fiction film was extra special because of its cast, which included Jessica Chastain (Mama, A Most Violent Year) as Melissa Lewis and Jeff Daniels (Dumb & Dumber franchise, Looper) as Teddy Sanders; everyone was outstanding with their characters. The other reason I was transported to Mars was due to the script; special effects took a back seat as I realized I was getting an abundance of technological jargon, but Matt made everything seem believable to me. Nothing seemed frivolous; I felt Ridley used a deft touch in letting the tension and drama play off of each other. There were some scenes where I was sitting on the edge of my seat in nervous anticipation and in the next moment I was sitting back as my eyes teared up. This picture absolutely took me away to a different place, besides adding a new perspective to this year’s batch of Oscar worthy movies. One brief scene showed blood in it.