Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hidden Figures


Director: Theodore Melfi

Starring: Taraji P Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons

Based on the true story of three African-American female mathletes who overcame racial prejudice and gender bias to play a crucial role in the US space race. Katherine Goble Johnson (Taraji P Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) are part of the "colored computers": a group of mathematically literate African American women used by NASA to beat Russia in the Space Race. Toiling within a segregated organisation, their initial, race-based confinement gradually gives way as their talents draw them deeper into the mathematical action needed to get the rockets off the launch pad and thus keep pace in the space race with the Russians. NASA director, Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) is a gruff authoritarian who has no truck with racism when there is a job to be done. Marginally racist co-workers begrudgingly gradually accept, change has come. Good performances all round with Octavia Spencer in particular good form. The movie was shot by Australian cinematographer Mandy Walker.



Thursday, February 2, 2017

Patriots Day

Patriots Day Director: Peter Berg

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kevin Bacon, John Goodman, Themo Melikidze, Alex Wolff, JK Simmons, Michelle Monaghan, James Colby, Jimmy O. Yang

The dramatized version of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the efforts to catch the perpetrators, pulls no punches. Eminently watchable the story unfolds through the eyes of outspoken, homicide detective Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg). Gradually the plot develops to incorporate actual events in a manner both respectful and highly informative. What starts as a local cop matter quickly escalates into a massive investigative operation led by F.B.I. Special Agent Rick DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon) as in acts of terrorism, federal authority outranks local authority. Frustration between agencies is evidenced but in the end it is good police work and an intense car chase that eventually brings the two radicalized Chechen-American bombers to book. The film avoids dwelling of the deeper issues of modern anarchy and instead promotes the power of the human spirit to overcome. This is a gripping movie but long at two hours and 15 minutes running time.