HIDDEN FIGURES

Director: Theodore Melfi (2017) BBFC cert: PG

Equations lead to equality in this astronomically uplifting biopic.

When NASA find themselves behind communist Russia in the space race, three groundbreaking African American female mathematicians prove they have the right stuff.

Their brain power is instrumental in figuring out how to to return an astronaut alive from Earth orbit.

Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer bring warmth, integrity and humour to their roles. The latter was up for the best supporting actress Oscar, but all of them are deserving of an award.

The real life characters they play may have been hidden from history, but they’re easily identifiable in the labs occupied by white men.

Rather than preach, the script uses humour to mock the stupidity of racism and sexism. And the science is pitched at a level so dummies like myself can easily understand it.

Stirring, sentimental and sweet, it’s a powerful and entertaining story of heroism in the face of prejudice.

@ChrisHunneysett

 

 

La La Land

Director: Damien Chazelle (2017) BBFC cert: 12A

Be swept off your feet by this swooning romantic musical.

Unashamedly nostalgic for the music, movies, stars and Los Angeles of yesteryear, this fabulous fantasy is a sumptuous love letter to Hollywood’s golden age classics such as Singin’ In The Rain (1952) and An American In Paris (1951).

The ridiculously attractive Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star in their third film together, and their irresistible chemistry continues to burn through the screen. While neither are great singers or dancers, the film doesn’t pretend they are, adding to the honesty and charm of their performances.

Their characters meet in a gridlocked highway, a metaphor for their lives going nowhere. As the traffic jam becomes a joyful dance number, it’s tempered with the sting of frustration, and the tone scene is set for the story to come.

Gosling plays Sebastian, a struggling jazz pianist with dreams of opening a jazz club. His life takes a left turn when he meets the aspiring actress, Mia. Between auditions she works as a coffee shop waitress at the Warner Brothers studio.

Matching her dance partner step for step but having the more difficult part of doing it backwards and in high heels, Stone offers astonishing levels of heartbreaking vulnerability.

Though Gosling’s talent means he’s far from just window dressing, Stone owns the film. As the pair follow their dreams, they discover compromises must be made when balancing art and commerce.

La La Land‘s deserved record breaking sweep of seven Golden Globe awards has seen bookies make it the favourite for this years top Oscars and its easy to see why.

This is a dreamy, delirious and delightful concoction of high stepping choreography and toe tapping compositions. It’s bursting with sexy energy, eye popping colour and soaring ambition.

Go ga ga for La La Land and shower yourself with tinsel town stardust.

@ChrisHunneysett