Richard Lutz orbits the TV listings to find the hidden movie gem.
I don’t know about you but I get kind of edgy when I’m left to myself for…oh, I don’t know…about four minutes at least.
At the best (or is it at the worst?) we are social animals. We need to rub against each other, laugh, cry, reminisce, empathise, drink together.
The Martian (Friday, 1.35pm, Sky Cinema Premiere) is, of course, a Sci-Fi blockbuster about outer space. But it is also what happens when a solitary earthling has to contend with Being Alone. How does he keep sane? How does he contend with bad mistakes, paranoia, or even the celebration of small successes when there is no one to share it with?
Matt Damon is The Everyman, the Ulyssian figure who cannot travel, who has to deal with solititude. He is an astronaut mistakenly left behind on the dead planet of Mars when fellow crewmates think he had died.
He has to build and re-build his life and his life support system and wonder why he is doing it when he knows there is no rescue, no escape, really no future except an obvious death. It is a portrait in stoic resilience, in courage in the face of an unheralded unknown slow extinction.
Damon shines in this portrayal under the guidance of English director Ridley Scott. Seemingly, he filmed for five straight weeks in the Red Desert of Jordan with no other cast and never met his co-stars while on location.
This 2015 film is a tour de force with a slow relentless reveal of how Damon learns to survive and live alone. By the way, The Martian was finished a year after another terrific sci-fi extravaganza – Interstellar – where Damon plays an outer space baddie who has gone bananas. Quite a contrast. And a telling contrast too with Damon’s crash/bang/wallop role in the current boneheaded Jason Bourne series.
If there is anything else to report on the crystal box in your living room, there is a warning. Besides the Olympics and vacuous unreal reality shows, there is a sad plethora of gormless re-boots of old classics. Dotted around the schedules there are cheapshot new editions of great antique movies – The Bicycle Thief, The Time Machine, Planet of the Apes, Journey to the Center of the Earth, 3:10 to Yuma, St Trinians….the listless empty list goes on.
Stick with The Martian.