A Movie Hidden in the Figures

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Oh what a lovely film! Hidden Figures was a familiar story that still left me grinning like an idiot. This movie is a simplistic yet effective because of good writing and excellent acting. If you have the script and the talent, you can do just about anything as far as I’m concerned. Who would have thought that!

Hidden Figures is based on a true story and is one of those 60’s period pieces that blends two familiar stories into one. The first one is the black people who are fighting repression and the second is a story about the development of space exploration.

To be more specific Katharine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) is female, African American, mathematician are appointed by NASA out of sheer necessity. There are still such things as coloured toilets, kettles, and people. The movie is called Hidden Figures because Johnson and NASA have to find the mathematical formulas that will make sure America can successfully put an astronaut into space, orbit the earth, and re-enter the atmosphere without fail.

Hidden Figures and it’s stellar cast

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These guys are awesome. So is Kevin Costner even though he is not pictured. 

Hidden Figures has one of the best ensembles because the movie oozes chemistry. I don’t believe there is one person good enough to win an Oscar on their performance alone. But all of them together made something truly great here. They played to each other’s strengths and no one wanted to overact the other. Aside from Nocturnal Animals and Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures has the best ensemble I have seen in the past year.

Aside from the main actors (Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe) who were all really good, the guy that surprised me the most was Kevin Costner. I am a sucker for good surprises and his performance added so much to Hidden Figures that it wasn’t funny. He made a great decision in keeping his character subdued and not overdramatic. Even the dramatic scene he does have that involves a hammer, he downplays it. He was such a great straight man that not many people would recognize

The great words in the numbers

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I am not sure that quote was from Hichcock but I like the sentiment

Those little scripts are the ones that I enjoy. The best parts of the script were the subtle racism. They made it the elephant in the room. A ginormous elephant at that. Hidden Figures uses familiar but effective tools to achieve that. Every time (Jim Parsons) stares at her and the huge thump from a mountain of paperwork that Johnson has to work through.

One of the great moments of this subtlety occurs when Katherine (Henson) first enters the Space Task Group. The Secerety, when asked by the head of the group if she can do geometry, replies “Yes she can, and she speaks” The level of passive aggression is palpable and toe curling, which was the goal early on in Hidden Figures. I
also funny, which is rare for a lot of alleged comedies out there.

Hidden Figures is one of those rare films where it would be hard to find someone to hate it. It’s got a familiar story told simply with great acting and good writing and is rooted with people who act like human beings. This is rare considering most of the simpler stories are told in the realm of animation or super heroes and the great human stories can be complex. ****

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