Hidden Figures


This Ticket Stub Love review was originally posted on the site Chasing Dreams as part of their Film Friday segment.

I feel that the tagline for Hidden Figures perfectly encapsulates the film. “Meet the women you don’t know, behind the mission you do.” Many of us know or are somewhat aware of the events surrounding Project Mercury, the first human spaceflight program of the United States. What many people don’t realize is that the project would not have been successful without the help of countless engineers and mathematicians, in particular Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson.

Based on a true story, Hidden Figures centers on a team of African-American women, including Johnson (portrayed by Taraji P. Henson), Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Jackson (Janelle Monáe), who aided NASA by calculating the flight trajectories and mathematical data needed to launch the nation’s first successful space missions.

Hidden Figures is an excellent movie. Truly awe-inspiring, its story of these three powerful and intelligent women who overcame so much racism, sexism, and prejudice in the much divided 1960’s will strike a chord with audience members. Personally, and I know I am not alone in this, I was not aware of the tremendous strides and work these women did for NASA and for our nation. It was not only eye-opening but also inspirational to learn about this true story.

The cast performances were excellent. Taraji P. Henson blew me away as Katherine G. Johnson, her performance possessing such emotion and depth that needs to be more recognized and lauded. Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe were excellent as well. Both women brought a palpable strength and a firm grasp on the roles they respectively played.

Pharell Williams, Hans Zimmer, and Benjamin Wallfisch co-composed a great score for the film. The music added a needed boost at times that co-aligned well with the action on screen. In addition, Hidden Figures‘ story is well written and effectively immerses the viewer.

Hidden Figures has a lot of heart. I would fully recommend watching Hidden Figures, though it is not a film that requires a theater experience. People of any age will benefit from watching Hidden Figures and learning about an often overlooked but vital piece of our nation’s history. Even young children, especially girls, can most definitely look to Hidden Figures for a source of new role models as well. Hidden Figures has the heart and will touch yours.

ALL IN ALL: With its inspiring story and talented cast performances, Hidden Figures is sure to stay in the hearts of movie-goers alike for generations to come.

Hidden Figures 4.5 out of 5 ticket stubs.


Director: Theodore Melfi

Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Jim Parson, Kirsten Dunst, Mahershala Ali

Run Time: 2 hrs 7 min, PG

Year: 2016

image from: http://www.foxmovies.com/movies/hidden-figures



Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Last week I was invited to attend a private screening of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. It definitely had a much bigger impact on me since Nelson Mandela had passed away on December 5th. Despite the mixed reviews, I enjoyed the film though I thought it was the actors who mainly held it up.

Starring Idris Elba as the title character and Naomie Harris as his second-wife Winnie, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a biographical film that chronicles the early life of Nelson Mandela as well as his education, 27 years in prison during the anti-apartheid movement, and eventual inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa.

Let me start off with the cast. I thought Idris Elba was fantastic as Mandela and I’m glad he was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance. Let’s be frank, he doesn’t look much like Mandela at all, at least not as much as Morgan Freeman. However, it is Mandela’s embodiment and spirit that he captured which made him so believable, not to mention his impressive mastery of a South African accent. His makeup used to portray his gradual aging was not exactly the best though. Naomie Harris also gave a great and gritty performance as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and she definitely portrayed her character’s development over the years very accurately. This was emphasized as well by Elba who perfectly portrayed his appall  to what her anger had led her to become.

Unfortunately, I thought the film felt too rushed at times and tried to cram as much of Nelson Mandela’s life into a nice little package. However, trying to include practically all of the major life events of such a legendary man leads to a crowded film that feels long and doesn’t do much justice to the important events depicted. The film clocks in at 139 minutes, which is not too bad, but it makes the fatal flaw of allowing the audience to realize how long it is. It could have ended in several places earlier than it did because I found myself often thinking that it was going to end, but then the film would suddenly turn to another quick scene. Also this is random, but I did not think the frequent scenes in the beginning that showed Mandela’s womanizing ways were really necessary.

Though there were some flaws, the film is very moving. I had goosebumps in several scenes, mainly due to the performances but also to the realization that the events actually happened. The added bits of humor here and there also made a huge difference in several intense scenes. If anything, and I know I already mentioned the length of the film, more time could have been spent on some background of apartheid since the film simply dives right into it. I recommend the film, especially to those who do not know much about the life of Nelson Mandela; however, it might not be worth seeing in theaters.

ALL IN ALL: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a powerful film with moving performances from its two leads, but it fails in trying to cram as much as possible about the life of a legendary man.

Rated PG-13, 139 minutes

Images: http://www.slantmagazine.com/assets/house/film/posterlabmandela_2.jpg

Lee Daniels’ The Butler

*Award Season pick*  I recently saw The Butler this past weekend and I got to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Besides the fact that there were a few aspects of the film I wasn’t a huge fan of, I gotta recommend this movie. Like a time warp through history, The Butler tells a fantastic story based on the life of Eugene Allen, who worked at the White House for 34 years, though I did hear about the many differences between the subject’s life and the movie.

The Butler, directed by Lee Daniels, tells the story of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) , an African-American man who eye-witnesses major events in the 20th century throughout the timeline of the eight presidents he served in his 34 year tenure as a White House butler. Also starring Oprah Winfrey and a huge ensemble cast who make up the White House staff and presidents.

I honestly didn’t know that the film had such a great ensemble cast. Throughout each new term, I was always surprised to see who would be playing the next president or first lady. I gotta say that I thought all the actor’s who played the presidents were great.  Nice to see Robin Williams back on the screen as Eisenhower and I liked James Marsden as Kennedy. Now onto the main cast. Forest Whitaker was amazing. I’d definitely count on him bagging an Oscar nomination.  You learn to love and admire his character so much and his aging process was well done. I was a bit hesitant about Oprah’s role at first. Maybe because she’s done the talk-show gig for so many years that it was hard for me to appreciate her as an actor but she was fantastic!  Like Whitaker, her aging process was performed well and she blasted all fragments out of my mind that she was still tv Oprah.

My sister brought up a good point about the movie that I wasn’t a big fan of either. Though I love how the film goes through history and covers notable events, there were way too many ups and downs. The plot structure was like a roller coaster.  Frequently, a happy scene would be ruined with a some new tragedy. However, I thought the writing was good because there were very raw and real scenes that were palpable with emotion and heart-warming affection. Cecil’s story was awe-inspiring and very inspirational to see him undergo so many hardships. Surprisingly, the film follows Cecil’s son throughout his life almost as much as Cecil himself. This I thought provided a nice juxtaposition with the father serving men and the son fighting men and being active in the Civil Rights Movement. It was interesting to see the characters’ appearance and costumes change with the time period too.  The film had bits of comedy here and there, which was refreshing but again soon stepped on by more drama.  The length was another thing that I really had a problem with it. Though it is going through a long historical frame, I felt it went on a bit too long.



Finally, I didn’t expect the movie to go all the way to Obama’s nomination either. I thought it would end soon after his retirement in Reagan’s term but it came all the way to present day.  Though I did love the ending tremendously!! I would recommend The Butler, though as a precaution keep in mind that it does use the N-word at times . Other than that, it’s a great film!

ALL IN ALL: Lee Daniels’ The Butler is an uplifting film that tells an amazing story with great performances from an ensemble cast.

Rated PG-13, 132 minutes

image from: http://www.cinemablend.com/images/news_img/38813/Lee_Daniels_The_Butler_38813.jpg


One more day!!!!!! AHHHH!!!! I cannot wait for the Oscars and to release some of my pent-up energy, I decided to do one more post until the show. Argo: my prediction for Best Picture. I saw it last week and I can only say that it rightfully deserves the Oscar.

Argo, directed by Ben Affleck, is a dramatization about the 1980 joint CIA-Canadian secret operation in which Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), a CIA operative, led the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Iran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis by creating the alibi of a phony film being shot in Tehran. Also starring Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman, the film is up for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor(Arkin).

I thought Argo was great. The casting was excellent. Ben Affleck did a good job as Tony Mendez, and Alan Arkin and John Goodman were hilarious! The film was also very tense and suspenseful. Very suspenseful. I was practically rocking back and forth during the climax scene at the airport. It was hair raising! The sound mixing added all the suspense and should win the Oscar it’s nominated for.

It  is not rare to see a historical film like this have so much of an impact on audiences everywhere, but really my favorite part of the movie was actually learning about this secret operation that would not have otherwise known about. The mission was declassified for such a long time and until 1997, when former President Bill Clinton declassified it, many people were oblivious to the whole thing. It’s so amazing how brave all those involved in the operation were especially Mendez, who had all the pressure thrown on his back, and the six diplomats, who had to presume complete fake identies in order to not get caught. They could get killed, but they still went ahead with it. If that was me, I think I would have collapsed with fear and anxiety. Kudos to Ben Affleck for bringing this amazing story to light.

ALL IN ALL: Argo is suspenseful, thrilling film that tells the story of a ground-breaking operation, and deserves all the acclaim.

image from: http://latino-review.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Argo-Poster.jpg