The Martian

Science, the final frontier.

Stranded on Mars after his shipmates think he’s dead and hit the gas pedal to get out of town, quick, Matt Damon finds himself a lonely Robinson Crusoe on the angry red planet.

No big-budget sci-fi epic has spent so much time devoted to the how and why of growing potatoes in a harsh environment, and yet it works.

Director Ridley Scott brings his usual visual panache to the story, while finding an unexpected amount of humor in Damon’s ordeal up among the stars.

A film grandpa and Bill Nye the Science Guy can agree on.

 

True Grit (2010)

“I mean to kill you in one minute, Ned!”

Ask a man to step into the role that won John Wayne his Oscar, you better choose right, and once again the Coen brothers score big.

Jeff Bridges, with a few more burrs under his saddle than during his days as The Dude, is note-perfect, and he’s matched by Hailee Steinfeld, who delivers a knockout debut performance.

He’s a thoroughly-soused lawman with a still-deadly gun, she’s a revenge-seeking farm girl.

The result is a film which copped 10 richly-deserved Oscar nominations.

That it lost to the very-pedestrian The King’s Speech? Bullpucky.

 

Best Friends

“Look, it’s a handsome drug addict!”

A special friendship veers wildly off course in one of my favorite Saturday Night Live skits, with a scuzzy Matt Damon and a creepy Val Kilmer coming between Katy Perry and Andy Samberg.

The original duo enjoy eating Cornish game hens and watching The Lion King, as you do.

Meanwhile, their new “pals” are more into huffing gas fumes, playing Russian roulette, and taking you back to the laboratory to show off their botched science experiments.

It’s a match made in musical comedy heaven, is what I’m saying.

 

Downsizing

Stay or go?

Matt Damon and Kristin Wiig are a couple who decide to jump into a brave new, very small, world — only for one to back out at the least convenient moment.

One second you’re united.

The next, one of you has been shrunk and deposited into an experimental community aimed at saving the world by putting less strain on it.

Kind of puts a crimp into things.

A comedy laced with serious subject matter, such as the dilemma faced by Hong Chau as an activist sent to the new world against her will, this is a … small winner.

Suburbicon

Suburbia ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Matt Damon blows some gaskets as a man with an unexpected capacity for murder, blackmail, and other assorted crimes against humanity.

As he unravels, the neighborhood around him also goes to Hell, with a racially-tinged riot, home invasions, and hit men mowed down by wayward firetrucks.

It looks and sounds like a Coen brothers film, which is appropriate since they co-wrote the script, with George Clooney directing.

Pitch-black in the extreme, it bombed financially and has a super-low approval rating.

To which I, a huge fan, respond with a hearty “bite me!”