The Martian, by Andy Weir

I just finished the audiobook version of Andy Weir's The Martian, and I freakin' loved it!

The story deals with one very unlucky astronaut - Mark Watney - who gets left behind on Mars, when a mission suffers a catastrophic failure. He's got no means of communication, limited supplies, and no way off the red rock. Basically he's f**ked. Well, of course he's not completely f**cked, because he's a very resourceful guy. He's also a very funny guy, so his fight for survival is both educational and entertaining.

It took me a little while to get used to the writing style of The Martian, though. The story is told through diary-like logs from the main character, transcripts of message conversations, ordinary dialogue-driven situations, and third person, God-perspective scenes. Initially the story is told only through the logs, and since I didn't have the text in front of me that was a little weird.

About three quarters through the book I learned that a major Hollywood studio had optioned it for a movie. I don't know how the hell they're going to squeeze this story into a traditional two-hour movie, but it makes perfect sense that they'd try, especially in the light of the all-out love fest Gravity received recently. Although, this story plays out over 1,5 years, not 1,5 hours, they're quite similar in the sense that they're both science-based, inspirational survival stories that deal with one person trying to stay alive off planet.

So that's it. Just a quick recommendation for Book Club April here on The Single-Minded Movie Blog.


She Shoulda Been A Contender, Part IV


When I watch older films - in loser, non-geek speak that means anything older than 3 years - I often come across actresses that make me think "hey, what happened to her?"

That's why I came up with this blog series about hot actresses who should have had bigger careers. Don't forget to check out the previous entries here. And so without further ado, here's the fourth crop:


Mia Sara

She was Sloane. She was effing Sloane in Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986). She was the one who had to look like she could keep Ferris Bueller interested, and perhaps even keep him a bit in check too. And she pulled it off. Before that Mia Sara was an effing fairytale princess in Legend (1985). And that's it.

The remaining "highlights" include playing Van Damme's wife in Timecop (1994), and playing the villain in the failed superhero series Birds of Prey (2002). The rest of her CV is an impressive barrage of instantly forgettable TV trash. She's barely chalked up a handful of guest appearances during the last 10 years. No one ever tried to get her to play Sloane-ish in anything? No sassy teen roles? Nothing? Come on people! It's unacceptable!

High point: Bueller? Bueller?
Low point: Hard to say. Mostly because you have to work in order to have a low point. Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (2001) with Matthew Modine? The TV version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1997) starring Michael Caine? Who knows.
Should have been in:  I'd give her a regular spot on something like E.R. or Grey's Anatomy, or what about something that utilizes that ûber-cool attitude she's got? A female version of Top Gun! Boom! There it is! Military uniforms, those mirrored sunglasses... The boys wouldn't stand a chance.

Rhona Mitra

She can play sexy (just look at her), she can play tough (Doomsday (2008)), she'll do serious drama (Boston Legal (2004)) and goofy stuff (also Boston Legal (2004)), she can even lead a film (Doomsday, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)), and yet, Rhona Mitra is not a movie star. She's not on this list because she disappeared, or only did crappy TV stuff, no, she definitely did the work. Good, high-profile TV shows, big movies, but despite all that, Rhona Mitra is not a household name, and dammit she should be.

High point: Underworld: Rise of the Lycans.
Low point: Getting raped by an invisible Kevin Bacon in Hollow Man (2000) - because why would you show your breasts in a scene no self-respecting guy could "enjoy"?
Should have been in: Tomb Raider, obviously. This is a no-brainer.

Paula Marshall

Paula was initially brought to my attention as a supporting character on Spin City (1997). She was Michael J. Fox's second serious girlfriend. Later came Snoops (1999), short-lived, but sweet, female-centric detective show. She also made a very memorable guest appearance on Sports Night (2000). She keeps popping up in TV shows, often for more than one episode, but that's just not good enough. She needs a regular show - a drama - or a proper feature film. She deserves it!

High point: Spin City, oh who are we kidding, it's Californication (2007) with almost full frontage nudity and raw sex.
Low point: Gary Unmarried (2008)? A sitcom with Jay Mohrs (the s is a joke). Haven't seen it, but who can contain the Mohrs in a sitcom format?
Should have been in: Gravity (2013). Front and center, lead role, she could do it!

Eliza Dushku

Eliza certainly has no shortage of street cred. With stints on fan favorites Buffy (1998) and Angel (2000), and no less than two (albeit failed) shows of her own - Tru Calling (2003) and Dollhouse (2009) - she should be able to land a cool action movie or two. Nevertheless that kind of big screen screen time eludes this capable girl. The closest she got to big screen action was playing the daughter of Arnold in True Lies (1994).

Okay, so she did a few horror films along the way, Wrong Turn (2003) and Soul Survivors (2001) among others, and even some classic teen movies like The New Guy (2002) and effing Bring It On (2000), and that's all good, but that was 10+ years ago. A reoccurring Torchwood (2011) role and a The Big Bang Theory (2010) guest appearance show that the street cred is still alive, but where's the Eliza-Dushku-Kicks-Major-Ass feature film we deserve? Someone call Luc Besson.

High point: I'm sexy, I'm hot, I'm everything you're not! (That's from Bring It On, for the uninitiated).
Low point: Guest starring in an episode of Ugly Betty (2007)? What an abortion of a show.
Should have been in: Kill Bill (2003)! She could pass for Asian, right?

Julia Stiles

A couple of late 90's lead roles paved the way for her star-making turn in 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), going head to head with the late Heath Ledger. Then she did the modern day Hamlet (2000) with Ethan Hawke, a Mamet tour in State and Main (2000), then another classic teen movie, Save the Last Dance (2001), then she did more Shakespeare with 'O' (2001) and then.... The Bourne Identity (2002). Say what, now? She wasn't playing the lead, or some sassy love interest, she played a secretary. A generic secretary. She did nothing with the role and looked unconvincing doing it, after that it was all downhill. Sometimes through interesting projects, but slowly and inexorably Julia Stiles acted her way into obscurity.

When she showed up briefly in Silver Linings Playbook (2012) in a generic mom role, indistinguishable from the wallpaper, I almost cried. Where's the girl who looked so hot dancing on the table to Biggie Smalls?

High point: 10 Things I Hate About You (1999).
Low point: Gospel Hill (2008), I'm guessing.
Should have been in: Setting age aside, she should be able to do parts like Laura Linney's in The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), or Diane Kruger's in National Treasure (2004). She should definitely do something smart, like a lawyer or an investigative reporter. She looks smart, as well as beautiful.

Mädchen Amick

Lots of TV. Lots and lots of TV. It's no surprise, after all Mädchen got her big break on TV in David Lynch's Twin Peaks (1990), playing Shelley the waitress, but after that she briefly flirted with feature films.

Sleepwalkers (1992) aptly predicted the audience's reaction, then came the hot and sexy Dream Lover (1993), which turned out to be a bit of a nightmare, and then it was all over. Guest appearances on Dawnson's Creek (1999), Gilmore Girls (2002), ER (2004) and Joey (2005) failed to impress. She looked incredible in Californication, when she did a few episodes in 2008, so it's definitely not age, or too much surgery. I guess some stars will never shine beyond the crumbled pages of the TV Guide.

High point: Twin Peaks.
Low point: Dream Lover.
Should have been in: Twin Peaks season 3, 4 and 5. Okay that's a cheat. How about... Ghost (1990)? She's so adorable when she cries.



If you ever wondered why I do these posts, scroll back up and look at all those images, and then keep this in mind: These chicks look like that, AND they're talented! Is it really so unreasonable that I want them on my TV more?