Tag Archives: Jessica Chastain

Molly’s Game

Movie:  Molly’s Game

Rating:  4 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) was on the U.S. Ski Team, pushed hard to succeed by a demanding father (Kevin Costner), and about to make it to the Olympics when her world crashed around her.  Smart as a whip with a 3.92 GPA in college with plans to go to law school, Molly decides to head to Los Angeles to figure out where her life should go.  Needing to make a living, she does the cocktail waitress thing, and attracts the attention of a rich developer who needed an assistant.  As a sideline, the dude was running a high stakes poker game in West Hollywood, and soon Molly was invaluable in helping him line up players and track the money paid on a computer spread sheet.  Molly, smart lady that she was, kept her ears open to the poker lingo, and observed how the men who consistently won played their cards, like card shark Player X (Michael Cera), and became an expert at Texas Hold ‘Em poker.

Fast forward a few years and Molly is the sole owner and operator of the biggest and most sought after poker game in Los Angeles.  Big name actors and producers were regulars, as well as millionaire athletes and titans of industry.  Players better have $250,000 on them, because that was the cost of a buy-in to play at Molly’s games.  Molly was making a bundle for herself, and even doing it legally.  And yet, it all came tumbling down.  Enter the FBI, criminal charges, and  Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba), the legal eagle trying to keep Molly out of jail.

This film is a fascinating story, in part because it is based on the real life trials and tribulations of a real person named Molly Bloom.  The story veers away from a strictly factual plot in a few ways, but the gist of Molly Bloom’s travails are on the screen.  Jessica Chastain gives a powerful performance as Molly, and should be a cinch to get a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her portrayal.  The movie as a whole is well worth your time, and anyone who is knowledgeable about poker will be enthralled with the action at the tables.  Go see this one.

Mini Trailers:  Molly – “I was about to land on my digitally remastered spine held together with an erector set.”

Molly – “I wanted to be young for a while, in warm weather.  My job was to get people to spend more money than they needed to.”

Molly’s Boss, Dean – “Tip Molly if you want to be invited back next week.”  Molly – “I just made $3,000.”

Jaffey – “You need a publicist.”  Molly – “I need a f*cking lawyer!”

Lawyer – “You’re not taking a percentage of the pot?  Then you’re not breaking the law.”

Player X – “I don’t like playing poker.”  Molly – “Then why do you play?”  Player X -“I like destroying lives.”

Molly’s Father – “I’m your father.  I could give a shit as to whether I am welcome in your life.”

Jaffey – “If you are saying that everything that happened to you was designed to make you plead guilty, you are correct.”

Molly’s Father – “Your addiction is having power over powerful men.  I’m going to do what patients have been begging for.  I’m going to do three years of therapy in three minutes and give you the answers.”

Nitnoid Info:  The movie mentions how casinos put scents into the air to increase the urge to gamble.  According to scenting experts, it’s smart to emphasize cleanliness in the development of casino scents because it has an effect on perception, especially in casinos where patrons spend days not hours within the service environment. Signature casino scents are all different as often each hotel is trying to invoke a different region of the world; The Mirage is Polynesian; Mandalay Bay is Southeast Asian and the Bellagio whispers of Northern Italy.
The success of defining these scents starts with understanding that the third sense as being very tricky. (It isn’t like a story with three different sides; his, hers and the truth.) Everyone takes in the aroma, whatever it is, exactly the same way. The difference in reaction lies in the memories associated with that aroma, which are different for everyone. That said, there are certain guides with which scenting strategists works; citrus aromas are refreshing; floral, cedar and other woodsy scents are soothing and relaxing as are herbaceous aromas which can also be invigorating, such as peppermint.

What Was Not In The Movie:  Molly Bloom was very careful to not reveal the names of famous people who played in her poker games.  Some names have slipped out, including Ben Affleck, Leo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Yankee star Alex Rodriguez.  Of yes, and that mysterious and ruthless Player X appears to be actor Tobey Maguire.

Image result


Miss Sloane

Movie:  Miss Sloane

Rating:  4 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   Will Rogers once said, “We have the best Congress money can buy.”  Where do you think that money comes from that flows to elected officials in hopes of swaying their votes for particular bills?  From lobbyists, of course.  And no lobbyist is better at the game than Elizabeth Sloane (Jessica Chastain), ace of the Cole/Kravitz/Waterman firm led by the amoral George Dupont (Sam Waterston).  When the U.S. Senate was preparing to vote on a Brady Bill for gun control, the gun lobby folks with their bags of money come courting  Miss Sloane to engage her to snuff out the gun legislation bill, but they get a major shock when she turns them down flat.  Even worse, she jumps ship with her young team of eager beaver assistants to join forces with the anti-gun forces, in the person of Rodolpho Schmidt (Mark Strong), head of the Peterson/Wyatt firm.

Schmidt’s firm is much smaller and has almost no capital to wage this war.  It’s a classic David versus Goliath battle, and the anti-gun side’s only ace card is Miss Sloane.  She is considered the best in her field because she is a brilliant tactician, unpredictable in her strategy, and is totally committed to the point of being ruthless.  Her success has come at a cost; she has no personal life to speak of, she pops mysterious pills to get her through the day and endures insomnia at night.  In short, she is a driven workaholic.  Her main assistant in the fight is Esme Manucharian (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a young woman committed to the cause and hiding a dark secret about her past.  Together the young team fighting for the Brady Bill desperately try to secure the 60 votes they need for victory in the Senate, while contending with the ploys of their unscrupulous gun opponents.

In some respects this film is a bit predictable, as they portray the gun lobby in a very negative light.  But then again, they are making vast amounts of money off of weapons, so screw them.  Jessica Chastain is brilliant in this role, willing to present Miss Sloane as a cold and calculating operator with few redeeming qualities.  Look for Chastain to secure a Best Actress nomination.  This is a political thriller packed with suspense, and does not disappoint with the ending.  Solid entertainment.

Mini Trailers:  Sloane – “The winner plots one step ahead of the opposition, and plays their trump card after the opposition plays theirs.”

Lawyer to Sloane – “They will rile you so bad they’ll make Gandhi want to cut their tongues out.”

Gun Lobbyist – “We want to change the narrative from mothers losing their children to guns to mothers protecting their children with guns.”

George Dupont – “Christ, this is the Gun Lobby.  Do you have any idea how long I’ve been trying to reel them in?”

Esme Mahucharian – “For every dollar the Brady people spend, do you know how much the Gun Lobby spends?  Thirty-eight dollars!”

Sloane – “Does anyone in this room think the government should do away with the requirement for drivers licenses?  So why should we expect less for gun ownership?”

Rodolpho Schmidt to Sloane – “You compared the U.S. Constitution to a horoscope?”

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot:  Attention you evil people out there.  Beware of cockroaches….

The Martian

Film:  The Martian

Rating:  5 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:    NASA launched Ares III, a manned space craft that successfully landed on Mars.  The crew was scheduled to stay for two months to perform scientific experiments before heading back on the long return voyage to Earth.  But with almost no warning, a dangerous dust storm blew across the Martian surface endangering the safety of the crew, and threatened to topple the space capsule that would return the crew back into space.  All but one crew member, Mark Watney (Matt Damon), made it back to the capsule.  With the safety of the crew at risk, the commander, Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain), certain that Watney was dead, reluctantly gave the order to abort the rest of the mission and return to earth.

Thus begins the saga of Mark Watney, lone inhabitant of an entire planet, aka the Martian.  He does have a shelter left behind by his crew, and provisions for about 60 days.  He has no way to contact Hermes, the recently departed space craft, or even NASA back on earth.  The next planned mission to Mars, Ares IV, is not scheduled to arrive for another four years.  Watney has his astronaut training to rely on, he is a botanist by trade, and has a strong will to survive.  But is that going to be enough for Watney to stay alive?  As he assesses his situation, he concludes:  “I’m left with one option.  I’m going to have to science the shit out of this.”

It is just as well that Mark knows nothing of what is happening on Earth.  NASA director Teddy Sanders has announce the tragic death of Mark Watney to the world, and memorial services are held.  NASA goes back to planning their next launch four years down the road, and the crew of the Hermes settles into a routine as they while away the days on the long journey back home.  And the Martian begins to work and make plans….

This film is an amazing story, and I don’t give movies the Full Monty (5 stars) for nothing.  The story is based on a novel by Andy Weir, and both the novel and film director Ridley Scott had major assistance from NASA to get the science right.  The picture has plenty of thrills for action fans, and one heck of a story line.  Matt Damon carries this movie on his back, but gets plenty of help from great actors such as Jeff Daniels, Jessica Chastain, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig and Chiwetel Ejiofor.  It is a bit early in the Oscar season, but count on this film being a lock for a Best Picture nomination.  Do yourself a favor and go see this film.  The two hours and 21 minutes will fly by before you know it.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Hermes pilot – “Commander, I need you to verbally tell me to launch!”

Watney (to himself) – “I’m sorry, Martinez.  If you didn’t want me to go through your stuff, you shouldn’t have left me for dead on this planet.”

Sanders – “Congress won’t authorize us for a paperclip if we put a picture of a dead astronaut on the Washington Post.”

Watney – “I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I am the greatest botanist on Mars.”

Watney – “Basically, I colonized Mars.  In your face, Neil Armstrong!”

Watney – “Truth is, to stretch the rations four more days is a real dick punch.”

Kapoor – “You want to send him up into space under a tarp?”

I’m A Believer:  I have always heard duct tape can fix anything.  Now I believe it….

Favorite Scene:  Mark Watney tear-assing over the surface of Mars in a Rover grooving to the sounds of Donna Summers singing Hot Stuff on his tape deck.  Awesome.