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Spaghetti by the Sea

Hidden Figures (2016)

Hidden Figures (2016)   7 members have voted

  1. 1. What grade would you give Hidden Figures (2016)?

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6 posts in this topic

Review, Discuss, Debate, Celebrate.

 

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Movies don't get more feel-good inspirational than Hidden Figures, which tells the true story of black female mathematicians who worked at NASA at a time when it was unthinkable for someone who was either black or a woman to work in such field. That we haven't seen many movies about black women in science is enough for the movie to overcome its familiar underdog trappings, but the movie succeeds as both entertainment and as a history lesson without ever becoming preachy or boring. The main reason the film should be seen is because of the wonderful performance from Taraji P. Henson, who imbues Katherine Johnson with instant likability and determination that makes the character easy to root for. It's a shame that she's probably going to miss an Oscar nomination due to a competitive field. Octavia Spencer is great as always, while singer-turned-actress Janelle Monae has established herself as one to watch out for between this and Moonlight this year. Surrounding them is an excellent ensemble cast that includes Kevin Costner (continuing his string of great performances in recent years), Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, and Glen Powell (as the recently departed John Glenn). This is a complete crowdpleaser that had my audience applauding during certain points of the movie and, given what's unfortunately been going on in the world, the timing of it couldn't better. B+

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Solid, solid stuff. I'm a total sucker for movies about the behind the scenes of space like that so I really really enjoyed this. Like La La Land, and even more so here, this is a very welcome change of pace from the other contenders. Taraji, Janelle and Costner were AWESOME; Octavia, Mahershala and Jim wow-I-did-not-know-he-was-in-this Parsons were also really welcome to see. Also Zimmer/Pharell/Wallfisch's score was delightful too. In fact the only things against it are that it's almost too feel-good and textbook Oscar movie, but in the best way; and that it doesn't have the auteur flair we've all come to expect from these prestige dramas, even from stuff like say Lonergan with MBTS. Just yeah, it's awesome.

8/10

P.S. also it's not out till Feb 17 here so I'm not as annoyed now that this surprise screening wasn't Jackie :P

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Fairly standard in execution, mostly light on tone (it's never dour as it embraces the overall optimism and drive of the main female trio of witty characters) and classic straight-forward drama inspired by real events but overall the characters depiction and interpretation of three brilliant minds (played by Taraji Henson, Octavia Spencer and singer Janelle Monae) working at NASA's West Virginia "coloured computer division" (tasked on USA's first space programs trying to catch up with the soviets), in the face of adversity and prejudice are so heartwarming and inspirational, it compensates the weaknesses by showcasing the powerful strength of unity when people of different creed join together to reach for the stars, bounding over a common ideal and it's even more damning how american people could send a human being (Godspeed John Glenn) orbiting earth in a rocket demonstrating such remarkable intelligence in doing so but was crippled with stupid prejudices denying equality and civil rights to the smart human beings on the ground (Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson and their fellow "computers" ladies) that helped achieve this historical feat of science, mesmerizing the whole world, based on the mere color of their skin. As a parrallel, much like having to see beyond the numbers and challenge uncharted territories in astrophysics to achieve that dream of sending the first american astronaut around earth pushing the limits, the main characters have to apply that philosophy on a personal level to challenge the seemingly limiting statu quo of then american society that stood as an obstacle to achieve their dreams.

 

By the end of the movie, I was deeply moved by what those women have achieved, challenging the pre-conceptions of their era on every levels (both personal and professional), their personal struggle to be acknowledged and recognized as legitimate engineers while being ostracized, their underestimated impact on american history which was treated as a footnote nor even taught in school. (I've never heard about that coloured women NASA division until the movie announcement. I was floored as a black guy who wrongly thought the first space programs were entirely white men's labor and achievement while black people were looking at that from the sidelines of american history). Tears were flowing down my cheeks. 

 

A movie celebrating black women's greatness when being black AND a woman was a double penalty in american society keeping you from achieving your dreams and enduring daily humiliations. (Taraji Henson's confrontation with Costner about her constant absence off her desk seems trivial at first but embodies the peer pressure put on the shoulders on this brilliant but modest black woman being looked down upon and expected to tackle complex calculations giving the absolute best she can while remaining uncredited for her crucial work in this hostile context, under critical circumstances dampening her overachievements nobody wants to acknowledge or begrudgingly does so. Being merely good is not an option to succeed on merit and hard studies for segregated black people looking for a graduating education and a better life, you're still seen as an underachieving second class scrub being given favors by the white ruling class. And yet, being proficient and better than everybody else in a given field still doesn't mean shit when you're a black individual, you're still not part of the team and seem like a threat until a white guy gives the reluctant stamp of approval out of pragmatism when his gain is on the line. Sadly, nothing has much changed in that regard).

 

A- /B+

Edited by dashrendar44
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Henson really is excellent in this. A shame she seems to have no chance at a nomination.

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