Okay, here’s what I love about the space stations in The Martian: they’re spotless. Even when Matt Damon gets stranded on Mars, his encampment is filled with gleaming white equipment and carefully labeled white plastic bins; it’s like an inter-galactic Container Store. The much larger spacecraft which is sent to rescue Matt is like an orbiting boutique hotel, with modular furniture, picture windows and a spa-like gym, and the astronauts all wear sleek athleisure yoga gear. I kept waiting to see a zero-gravity housekeeper floating by, chasing a spray-bottle of Fantastik.
The Martian is great, but I can’t say that it’s very surprising. It’s another movie about a crew of mildly diverse, stalwart Americans who head out to rescue a handsome, noble white movie star, who boogies to vintage pop tunes. Every few minutes someone ingeniously solves a problem, then something goes wrong, and then it gets fixed – why can’t we just send Matt and mission commander Jessica Chastain to Syria, where they’d solve everything with a few innovative computer programs and some duct tape? Between Matt and Jessica and Jeff Daniels, who plays the weary, idealistic head of NASA, it’s a whole movie about the triumph of the American jawline.
Personally, I don’t get why anyone would ever want to go to Mars. It’s dry and dull and dusty; it’s like spending billions of dollars to fly to an abandoned mall in New Mexico. As a rule, I don’t like to explore any frontier without a Carvel, a Dunkin Donuts and some friendly natives selling their handcrafts. When I think about Mars, I keep seeing dead casinos and no FIOS.
I also saw The Intern and I just have to say it: I worship Nancy Meyers. Nancy is pretty much my ground zero. Nancy gets a lot of flak for making movies packed with gorgeous, restaurant-grade kitchens, sumptuous lofts and pretty people – she brings out the jealous snit in so many film critics, who can’t afford cashmere throws and farmhouse sinks. In The Intern, Anne Hathaway plays the head of a wildly successful Brooklyn start-up which delivers luxuriously packaged outfits and accessories – it’s sort of a Nancy Meyers supply app. Anne has a brownstone, a devoted staff, a furry house-husband and one perfect child. She’s feeling overwhelmed, and she’s advised by Robert De Niro, as a restless, retired executive who applies for a spot in Anne’s senior intern program. Anne and Robert are wonderfully charming together, and they never have to act gruff and wisecracking, like Matt and Jessica.
Some people have trouble with Anne, because she always seems very assured and pleased with herself, which is why she’s perfect in The Intern; I completely believed that she was determined and smart enough to run her own company. Even in her Interstellar spacesuit, Anne was gung-ho and fun – Anne is like someone who aced Harvard, overhauled Google and scored an eight-figure book deal. She’s a brunette Hillary.
Nancy Meyers reminds me of the writer Jennifer Weiner, who’s pointed out that women who write about First World, Platinum Card characters often get snubbed as chick-lit rom-commers. Frankly, I’d rather lead a mission to one of Nancy Meyers’ foyers than the arid deserts of Mars, if you ask me.