Hidden Figures (2016)
The untold story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson – brilliant African-American women working at NASA and serving as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history – the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.
Excellent but underrated film
In truth, there is barely enough story here to make a film.
A movie that not only functions as a solid scarefest but a razor-sharp satire.
This is a coming of age storyline that you've seen in one form or another for decades. It takes a truly unique voice to make yet another one worth watching.
Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory) makes a first movie and gets beaten up in NASA mission by our protagonist, thats a first. I could see him twitching with pain when Katherine Johnson, erases the black board (no pun intended it is black board not white board) and rewrites the formulas for John Glen's pod re-entry, unfortunately Penny was not there to console him. The review Hidden Figures is a wonderful uplifting story of three African American ladies during segregation, making it to the top in NASA space mission. The bubbly, Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) who wants to be an aeronautical engineer in the white mans world, men watch her struggle through a observatory window when her heel gets stuck on the launch pad. The senior, Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) who is managing a colored computers - literal meaning is a black women employed for computing. The genius of the trio is Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) who is calculating rocket's trajectory and re-entry crossing odds with Paul Stafford (Jim Parsons famously known as Sheldon Cooper). The movie is fairly star studded, Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) is head of the launch mission who at first is very skeptical of the Katherine's math abilities, he is a fantastic scientist with great leadership skills, but his human side is revealed when he discovers that Katherine took half hour breaks on a critical mission days just to learn that she had to walk half a mile (rain or shine) to relieve herself in the colored bathrooms. Takes a sledge hammer and shatters the signs of color of the facility and declares "There are no colors here at NASA, we are all one color". In the other building Dorothy updates her staff with coding (FORTRAN) so that they don't become obsolete on the installation of IBM supercomputers in the building, in the interim gains the much anticipated respect from her supervisor Vivian Mitchell (Kirsten Dunst). Mary breaks the barrier to be the first women to go to a College for White only through a court order. The icing on the cake is when management decides to take off Katherine from the mission control since all the calculations can be done by IBM computers, John Glenn personally orders to get Katherine to verify the calculations done by the computer. She oversees safe re-entry of John Glen in the Mission Control room filled with White people (I mean all men dressed in white shirts), with Katherine in a bright colored dress. She later goes on to supervise the Apollo 11 launch, mission to moon. The movie is a pleasant watch, very well directed by Theodore Melfi, a must watch for all children.
I loved the story of women and numbers during the movie.
I saw this movie in theaters twice. My mom dragged me to the first viewing and the second one was for a school trip. Characters - The acting is great all around. The characters are all interesting and well-developed. Plot - The plot is pretty solid. No complaints here. This movie, though long and not the type of movie I'd go out of my way to watch, is fairly entertaining and well done. Stupid - There are a few scenes that kinda bugged me, but I'm just going to mention 2. In one scene someone at NASA misjudged the size of a door and they had to knock in the wall with a sledgehammer to move some equipment. It was played as a joke, but it wasn't that funny and it annoyed me that they were so uncoordinated and they just wrecked the wall. Second, there is a scene later in the movie where a guy is knocking down the sign for the "colored bathroom" with a crowbar and wrecks the wall. There is a massive gash in the wall after it finally falls. What the dude should've done is carefully remove the sign (which would've been faster) and then took the sign outside to burn it or something. Wrecking walls may seem convenient in the short time, but what about when you have to go hire someone to fix the wall? Doesn't seem so convenient now does it?Sights and Sounds - The cinematography for this movie is fantastic. The sound mixing isn't terrible, but it could've been better.
On the way home from seeing Hidden Figures, I flipped my car radio on to WRKF, the Baton Rouge public radio station my wife and I have listened to and supported since we moved here in August 1982. It came on in the middle of Bob Dylan's Ring them bells, the program being Nick Spitzer's American Routes. Although that song was recorded in 1989 at the end of Bob's Christian period, long after I'd quit paying attention to him for all practical purposes, the music, words and message echo his protest songs of the early 1960s.. Ring them bells for the blind and the deaf Ring them bells for all of us who are left Ring them bells for the chosen few Who will judge the many when the game is through Ring them bells, for the time that flies For the child that cries When innocence diesI wouldn't have known or recognized the song had I not bought the Amnesty International Chimes of Freedom 2012 compilation of 72 Bob Dylan covers two years ago. For that collection, Natasha Beddington, a popular young British singer whom I'd never heard of prior to that, performed a lovely cover of Ring them bells in pop R&B style. I was in the process of reviewing all the songs and researching the artists when my Mom became ill and I never finished that project.Next was the Byrds' 1969 psychedelic folk rock cover of Dylan's This wheel's on fire, the version the Zambo Flirts modeled an arrangement on and often performed live back in the '70s ("Please notify my next of kin, this wheel shall explode"), followed by Dylan's completely hilarious after all these years Talking World War 3 Blues from 1961. By the magic of synchronicity, 1961 was the year Alan Shepard piloted the first US manned space launch, an event at the center of the action of Hidden Figures. The relevance of my long prelude: walking from the theater to my car I'd already been transported by the film back to the time of the Space Race, a signature geopolitical contest at the height of the Cold War, when it was the West against the East, the Free World against the Communist Bloc. The old friends I grew up with and other peers will remember seeing PSA's showing Nikita Khrushchev pounding his shoe on the podium at the UN and shouting (according to the subtitles) "We will bury you!" We remember John F. Kennedy challenging us to "Ask not what your country can do for you..." Back then (and long afterwards) anyone who publically questioned the Russians being our mortal enemies risked being the subject of a dossier in J. Edgar Hoover's desk, something that affects my thinking to this day. America was desperate not to be beaten in any venue by the Russians. When their Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space five weeks ahead of our Alan Shepherd, the nation and the much-heralded NASA space program were deeply humiliated.This is the context of Hidden Figures, the fact-based story of a group of highly intelligent, motivated and competent black women performing critically important work for NASA. I'm writing this review instead of my usual practice of doing background research on films based on history (a somewhat endangered discipline as I write this although I still believe it will outlive the current era of alt-facts). Thus, I have not fact-checked the film for accuracy. Be that as it may, Hidden Figures is a beautiful movie. It focuses on three real people, all black women employed at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA who worked on Project Mercury. The goal was to send astronauts into outer space and bring them home safely. Putting humans into space has always been a dicey proposition. The scientists and engineers at Langley had the heavy responsibility of designing, building, testing and approving the rockets, space vehicles and flight plans that had a significant chance of resulting in not just more national humiliation but the horrifying public deaths of our ultimate fly boys, the hand-picked guys who epitomized the Right Stuff. The task required bold mathematical, technological, and ergonomic innovation on a daily basis under intense pressure.The lead actresses, Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and the irrepressible Janelle Monae are uniformly brilliant and engaging, portraying three exemplary patriots and public servants. We follow the women as they maintain their dignity under duress in the classic tradition of the Civil Rights Movement, make essential contributions to the success of Project Mercury, and hold precious private lives together while enduring the unapologetic racism and sexism of this time and place. The indignities they routinely suffer at and away from work are painful to watch, no less so for a viewer who recognizes that the struggle for opportunity, justice and basic human rights they embody is unfinished business even today, some 56 years later. Fine supporting performances are turned in by Kevin Costner as project director Al Harrison, Kirsten Dunst as the chilly supervisor of female NASA's employees, and Glen Powell as rock star astronaut John Glenn, among quite a few others. Hidden Figures is ultimately an uplifting, inspiring, feel good movie. It made me laugh, cry, and feel that pride we all have deep down of being a citizen of the USA, the ongoing experiment in self-government of which each fellow American is a stakeholder. It reminded me of who I am, the path I've traveled to arrive where I am, and, above all, affirmed who our greatest President, at another time of national crisis, once declared we all are:"We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature." (Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861).Go see it.