Movie 411: Hidden Figures


Directed by:

Theodore Melfi (Saint Vincent)

Screenplay by:

Allison Schroeder (Mean Girls) and Theodore Melfi


Rated: 

PG

Release Date: 

December 2016

Genre: 

History, Drama

The Hook:

NASA! And “based on actual events.”

 

Three strong women of color are employed at the prestigious NASA during the Space Race of the Cold War. Having the brains and determination to get themselves there, they face unique challenges because they are intelligent, African-American, and female in a mostly dominated male profession. Their story demonstrates the strength these women had to not only get to the top of their respective field but to gain the respect of their peers in a time when civil rights were challenged and when the role women played were questioned.

The Review

I must admit. This movie wasn’t on my radar on my list of must-see movies. It was one of those “what movie shall I watch. Oh, this one looks okay” kind of nights and this was the pick. And I am glad to have watched it!

The Plot . . .

 

What a story! When watching this movie, I couldn’t help thinking about all those sports movies in which the underdog prevails at the end. You know what I’m talking about. Not only sports movies, but basically any movie where the main character is snubbed only to knock-it-to-them in the end. This movie was just like those movies except in the field of math and science. I love it! You get to see a little bit of the behind the scenes of NASA, or at least a fictional-maybe-a-bit-exaggerated behind the scenes, and the different departments that helped NASA operate. And it’s not your typical day at NASA either. You’ve got the backdrop of the Space Race to set the mood, tension, and plot.

The story is great for film and even better that it’s based on a book, HiddenFigures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margaret Lee Shetterly.

It was good to see these women get recognized and it amazed me at what they did during the time they lived in. Simply amazing. I’m not sure whether the story was good because it was based on actual events or because their story made it to the big screen and a wider audience. As with all movies tied to real world possibilities, it may not be completely accurate, but it gets people thinking and asking questions.

. . . and Presentation

 

Well done. I haven’t read the book or thumbed through it either, but to translate a non-fiction read into an entertaining and inspiring movie script takes a certain finesse and Melfi delivers. He unpacks the story in an easy to follow narrative and adds humor, tension, and seriousness in all the right places.

I enjoyed the energy and humor Octavia Spencer (Dorothy) brought to The Help and she does an excellent job with Dorothy’s character as well. Acting with her were Taraji Hensen (Katherine) and Janelle Monae (Mary), whom I have never seen before. They do an excellent job adding to the on-screen chemistry among friends who are taking on NASA. The supporting characters of Kevin Costner (Al), Jim Parsons (Paul), and Kirsten Dunst (Vivian) helped move the story along and worked well with the dynamics of the story and of the leading actresses.

The Verdict

A really great movie to watch. If only once. It’s a great story so that itself is worth giving it a go. As much as I enjoyed this movie, I don’t think I’d add it to my library. Everyone loves it when the underdog rallies back and actually knock the smug smile off the faces of those who questioned, mocked, and/or humiliated. While mostly everyone. At least I do anyway. But it’s not the kind of movie that I would go to whenever I’m stumped on what to watch, you know? It’s that movie you watch when a group of you are trying to decide on a movie. Not really something I’d say “Oh hey, I want to watch this movie.” To me it’s the kind of movie to share with others and not really keep to yourself.

Photo Credit: Amazon.com

 

TV 411: The Royals – An Introduction

** SPOILER ALERT: Proceed at your own risk **

Creator:

Mark Schwahn

Network:

E! Entertainment Television

Premiered: 

March 15, 2015

The Hook:

Shows about royalty, or things royal-like, story lines always grabs my attention. It’s not because I’m smitten with the idea of a court or with the glitz and glamor. It’s always because I’m curious to see how royalty will be depicted. Will it be serious? Will it be funny? Will it be somewhat realistic? I mean, I know it’s fiction so things will get exaggerated, but I can’t help but wonder what the truth of that exaggeration might be, you know? So the hook for me is simply because it’s a show about a fictional family of royals and the ups and downs of be caught among fame, duty, and individuality.

Th Premise:

So, considering the title of the show, I’m sure you can guess what the baseline story arch of the show is. Royalty and the drama that follows.  The show focuses on the royal family, of course, but I also like that the show teases out the security detail  and, it’s too soon for me to tell (I only really watched one episode so far), I’d imagine the servants as well.

Cast of Characters:

Prince Liam (William Moseley) – The future king. Having assumed this title and responsibility rather suddenly, and very much unexpectedly, Liam is has to quickly figure out what kind of king he wants to be (or at least the direction he’s aiming for) while figuring out how to keep true to himself while doing what’s best for his kingdom.

Queen Helena (Elizabeth Hurley) – The queen and mother of Liam. Boy, do I like her character. She’s not my favorite (I don’t thin I even have a favorite yet. No, wait. I do. I do have a favorite) and, you know, I’m not even sure if like her (I need to watch more of the show to decide where she stands with me), but I do respect her character. She’s fighting all kinds of battle fronts. Firstly, keeping her family out of the tabloids. Then ruling her kingdom. Then trying to be a mother. She’s got all kinds of things going on I can’t help but appreciate her. Elizabeth Hurley is really doing a good job with her portrayal.

Princess Elenor (Alexandra Park) – Liam’s twin sister and, of course, the princess. I like her. While Queen Helena is the iron fist of the family, Elenor can be seen as the black sheep. She’s the Queen Helena is trying to keep out of the tabloids the most because Elenor doesn’t make things easy. Every family has one, but I like the energy she brings to the show. The vulnerability clashing with anger, bitterness, and bite. Or at least bark.

King Simon (Vincent Regan)  The king, of course. And poor Simon! I mean, he’s suppose to be king and the head of household, but often takes a backseat to, well, everyone.

Ted Price (Oliver Milburn) – Head of security and my favorite (as of episode one)! I love what his character brings to the show. Well, since I’ve only seen the pilot, what I see him brining to the show is that other layer of perspective. He’s that behind the scenes person, but an important person, and I love how that works. His position would make things interesting to see how that influences his life.

Ophelia Price (Merritt Patterson) – Daughter to the Head of Security and Prince Liam’s love interest. Because of  course we need a love interest who would be known as a servant or a daughter of a servant or a commoner. You know what I mean. I may be a bit sarcastic, but I do like the idea of these two. They’re about the same age so they more or less grew up together (in the castle of course, not like having playdates with each other). It’ll be interesting to see where this may go.

I think that’s pretty much the main cast, as of episode one. I’m sure I’m missing characters and will learn who they are as I make my way along season one (like Marcus, for example. Liam’s bodyguard).

Continuing on:

The pilot episode introduced some interesting plot lines I wouldn’t mind seeing played out. Liam and Ophelia for one. Ophelia and her father is another. What happened to Ophelia’s mother? Why is Elenor the wild child? I think there is a lot of potential with a setting and atmosphere like the royal family so I’m curious.

And because I’m curious, I think I’ll give season one a shot. At least season one. We’ll see if it’s worth sticking it out. Since they’re still on air, I am assuming they’re doing well enough so that’s a plus. It’s listed as a drama, but I find it entertaining as well.