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DC’s Take: ‘Hidden Figures’

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HiddenFiguresPic Sometimes there are stories in history that we never hear about until they’re written in a book. Or better yet, crafted into a movie for our visual pleasure. These are the kinds of stories that are meant to be told to everybody. But have you ever heard of the three African-American women who worked at NASA in the ‘60s? For me, it never came to mind. “Hidden Figures” tells this story and it’s interesting to the fullest degree. Director Theodore Melfi (“St. Vincent”) did a perfect job directing and writing this with his co-writer Allison Schroeder. The two drafted the script based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly. When you give me a drama revolving around space and math, you’ve got me interested. The “hidden figures” suggested by the title are the women who worked behind the scenes of NASA in Space Age America. “Hidden Figures” takes place in the 1960s as America is competing against Russia in the Space Race. As NASA is trying to put the first man into space, they bring in the bright minds of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), brilliant in all things math, with her friends Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) NASA hopes the three have the right mathematical skills to launch the first successful space missions during the times of segregation. This is such an intriguing story to finally hear about. It seems to be a common opinion that anybody can learn the calculations that go into making sure these astronauts come home safe and sound from orbit. And, most importantly, the film brings to light the diversity that surrounds us, and NASA couldn’t have accomplished their goal if it wasn’t for these women. The ensemble in this was too perfect, especially with the three leads. Normally, I’m not the biggest fan of Taraji P. Henson, because she has a tendency to over act in movies. But she was really good playing Katherine. She encapsulates the mind of her real-life counterpart with a lot of intelligence into her performance. Throughout almost the whole film, her character is very good with numbers, and it made me jealous. Octavia Spencer (“The Help”) once again pulled in a great character as Dorothy. She was funny, and just does whatever she can to get up top. However, the best performance in the entire movie was hands-down Janelle Monáe. Primarily known for singing, she put on a surprise performance, as she was phenomenal as Mary. Rounding out the cast is Kevin Costner, who is, as always, great, and fits the role of “guy who wants everything to be done” well. The music was excellent too. The score, composed by Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, and Benjamin Wallfisch, included songs written by Williams that were upbeat and catchy. Anytime a movie is set in the 1960s, especially in the era of the civil rights movement, it always lends a new perspective of what the world was like back then. There’s so much hatred between blacks, especially the women around those times. It was a time where there were separate bathrooms and water fountains. Everybody looks at someone differently because of their skin color. In almost every scene where racial issues come up, I found it unbelievable how these people were treated. The greatest thing about the world we live in now is that we don’t need all that trouble and we’re able to be anywhere we’re able to be. The most important thing about the story that should be talked about is how we need to trust that people are able to do anything, even if that person is someone with a different color. My biggest problem with the film was that I felt there wasn’t quite enough buildup in some scenes. Maybe that’s just me, but some scenes could’ve used a bit more “oomph.” In addition, Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”) feels pointless in the scenes he’s in. It’s pretty obvious the type of character he’s playing: the smart guy in the office, but I couldn’t see past anyone else for that matter. Will this be in talks for some Oscar nominations? It’s quite possible. If it were, it will be up for Best Picture, Spencer or Monáe for Best Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, and Original Score. With this and another Oscar consideration movies with black-focused casts, like "Fences" or "Moonlight,” it’s great to see these types of movies getting the recognition they deserve, as they’ve been ignored the last two years. If the late John Glenn was still alive, he would’ve appreciated the work put into this movie. Anyone who’s a Math & Engineering major will really appreciate what’s being accomplished in “Hidden Figures”. “Hidden Figures” is a well-acted and uplifting drama. It’s unbelievable that this was a true story, and it’s important to be told. B
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