Houston, We Have A Solution.
127 Minutes. Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Jim Parsons, Kirsten Dunst, Glen Powell, Aldis Hodge, Marhershala Ali & Kevin Costner. Director: Theodore Melfi.
Go figure! You do the math. How do you put a man on the moon? Or even send him out this world with little more than an abacus to move your numbers and figures? That was the problem facing NASA in the age before Apollo, in their two horse space race with Russia after the Cold War. Their solution to this problem Houston? The digits of human calculators...no matter how divided. As reaching the stars showed the United States Of America and the watching world that exceeding expectations on this earth had no place for disgraceful discrimination. Whether racial or sexist. Sure it was a white male that was the first American to make a voyage into space after the Russians. But it was a black woman who helped get him there, calculating his trajectory down to the exact decimal point that the I.B.M. computer couldn't reach. Now that's not a win for Apple...or those waiting for a revolution to hit them on the head whilst idly sitting under a tree...no disrespect to you Newton...this would be nothing without you. But everyone who saw not creed, or gender in someone, but the person within. No matter if they wore a blouse, or drank from a different water fountain. These 'Hidden Figures' are finally being revealed to the world that they helped build from nothing, in a true tale about individuals who should not be paid any less or sit any other place but where they want on the bus. It's time the masses take note like the mainstream moved by these empowered brains behind the brawn sent into orbit. This, the awe-inspiring adaptation of the amazing 'Hidden Figures' record book by Virginian writer Margot Lee Shetterly, the daughter of a NASA research scientist. An Academy Award nominated movie that along with the perfect play to screens of Denzel Washington's formidable 'Fences' and Barry Jenkins magnificent three-acted 'Moonlight' (not to forget the equal rights brought to any hearts of 'Loving') is showing the so white, so long Oscars the only colour their award should see is gold. Setting a new standard these 'Hidden Figures' are the ones that have finally seen the light that is even outshining and outselling the runaway favourite 'La La Land'. Here's to your real stars that dream.
This is real. This is here. And right now these are histories figures. Time magazine's 100 of 2016 Taraji P. Henson has finally found her defining role as influential person of life and world changing power Katherine Goble. Sure her 'Baby Boy' breakthrough and 'Hustle and Flow' with Terrence Howard may have lead to her latest legacy making 'Empire' on television, channeled alongside her award winning 'Person Of Interest'. But motion pictures like this is how you truly become legendary. And that's just the way the cookie crumbles. Far more than her previous biggest movie to date, mothering Will Smith's ass-kicking son in the re-energised 'Karate Kid' reboot, Henson really rocket boosts her roles here. Taking this real life screen storytelling to new propelled heights with her trademark strength of character and unwavering soul. Taraji is terrific here in the leading role and almost rivals the 'Fences' destroying, Oscar winning (for sure), tear strained and soaked speech against inequality from Viola Davis. But where is her nomination? Looks like just as they were getting it right the Oscars got it wrong again. Although we can find solace in the place at the table of nominees afforded to the outstanding Octavia Spencer as the first African-American, female supervisior in NASA history, Dorothy Vaughn. Spencer has spent her career fighting the good fight, from her start in the racially ignited trial of 'A Time To Kill', amongst elite superstar company like Samuel L. Jackson at his best, alongside the same for Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock and Kevin Spacey. Now the beautiful actress is part of that A-list caliber community in Hollywood thanks to her parts in 'The Help', the modern day real-life tragedy of ignorance at 'Fruitvale Station' and now this. This that will rival her 'Help' Oscar win and any movie that serves her since this day. This time that is hers and all the people of history and today she respresents. Just like Janelle Monae as Mary Jackson. Walking by her side and Grammy nominated career with some Oscar company. 'The Electric Lady' singer who has been channeling the first sci-fi of movies with 1920's 'Metropolis' in her album artwork is really out of this world, figuratively and literally with her new stroke of art. As worthy as her side-by-side big three leads of Henson and Spencer, Janelle is the effervescent enthusiasm of this picture. Monae is on the money (in the big-three company of Oscar nominated movie doubled up actors Amy Adams ('Arrival and 'Nocturnal Animals') and Andrew Garfield ('Hacksaw Ridge' and 'Silence')) with this and 'Moonlight' all at the same time. One day she'll be in the Academy's fraternity.
Just like supporting sure-thing Marhershala Ali. Her co-star from 'Moonlight' who looks certain to have the spotlight of Oscar gold shining on him. But actually has more screen-time here in as almost a six-string supporting role. This time playing Henson's on screen love interest. Just like he did as the cinematic couple fathered Brad Pitt's backwardly ageing 'Curious Case Of Benjamin Button' left on his early career doorstep. And we thought the award winning actor had enough on his plate juggling the unbreakable 'Luke Cage' and politically topical toppling 'House Of Cards'. But just like this film Ali's charisma is irresistible here. Like a man in a uniform ladies how could you resist? Because this movie even attracts the likes of Jim Parson and Kirsten Dunst in supporting roles. As Sheldon from 'The Big Bang Theory' and 'Spider-Man's M.J. have no problem playing some pretty deplorable characters that are no cliche at all. All no holes barred, showing us how it really was back then again as a person of minority marganilised by the so-called superiority of whites. Thank goodness for support from 'Everybody Wants Some' and 'Dark Knight' actor Scott Glenn on Chris Evans duty as an amiable astronaut on Captain American detail. Or N.W.A's MC Ren, straight out the 'Straight Outta Compton' movie, Aldis Hodge as a loving and strong husband. But it's Superman's dad, the untouchable legend Kevin Costner who finally gives us another film to put next to his big, legacy making three of 'Field Of Dreams', 'Dances With Wolves' and 'JFK' in the Kennedy era space station. On Ed Harris 'Apollo 13' directing and Wrigley gum (or is it Orbit? Wink, wink!) chewing duty...seriously even Brad Pitt doens't go through this much spitting tobacco duty on 'Moneyball'. But 'Bull Durham' is the Houston rocket that helps uplift this groundbreaking story. Part by the book. Part deceny of humanity. But all absolutely no B.S. Even in a bathroom stall seperation stopping scene, split with more than a swinging wrench. Throwing a spanner into discriminations works. He's a facilitator. But no "great white hope" saviour. And in this power force film from Bill Murray's 'St Vincent' director Theodore Melfi, (set to a fluorescent 'Despicable Me', deliriously happy score from Pharrell Williams. Reuniting with classic cinematic composer Hans Zimmer after they made Andrew Garfield's 'Spider-Man' sequel amazing) we know who the real heores are here. And with all due respect, it's not the three honoured actresses that are all amazing in homage. But the real women they portray and play like the ones they are. Oscars have nothing on Medals of Freedom. And now set to this as this previously untold story tells to millions, these great figures of the revolutionary space race need no longer hide in the shadows of history. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Apollo 13', 'The Help', 'Moonlight'.