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Hidden figures review

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Hidden Fogures

20th Century Fox


PG 13. 128 min



Once in awhile politics has a hand in determining the best picture nominations. Last year Will Smith threw a fit about the racial proportions for Academy Award nominees so this year the Academy, fearing for their reputations, went full court the other way.


This year three of the eight Best Picture nominees three are Afrocentric and one is based on the life of an Indian Australia immigrant.


The first film of the final four I will do for this issue is called HIDDEN FIGURES, the story of three exceptional black women who were instrumental in the success of NASAs manned space flight with John Glenn.


Just about every season there is at least one film with the same blueprint, African Americans rising above the prejudice of white people and while things were much better in the late fifties and early sixties then they were during the 1800s the country was still far from equal. So not only was it almost unheard of that these three women graduated from college but especially that they would go on to hold prominent positions in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and play key roles in the space program. Too often the white people are portrayed in these types of films as a drooling piggish bigots. Here they are certainly often dismissive, possibly not quite as respectful as they should be but still we were living in a society just beginning to accept new things.



Taraji P Henderson is Katherine Johnson a hard-working woman who just happens to be a mathematical genius.


It's good to know here that another character is introduced into this drama, one not white not black but shall we say big blue. Yes those of you remember old science-fiction films remember the gigantic calculating machines as big as a city block with tape reels the size of hubcaps and stacks and stacks of data cards. It's this machine that threatens to make even the brightest of the mathematical geniuses obsolete. But don't worry if that was the case HIDDEN FIGURES would be a lot less fun that it is.


One human antagonist is a disgruntled mathematician played by Jim Parsons,, that's right kids Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, who was before Katherine's arrival, the smartest guy in the room. The boss on the other hand is a no-nonsense guy with an innate sense of fairness. Who better to play that type of character than everybody's pal Kevin Costner.


One of the early scenes involves Katherine being late returning from the rare break she is allowed to take and when questioned, it turns out that the 'colored' ladies room is a half mile on the other side of the complex.


The women overcome this and other similar conflict to arrive at the climax where the landing coordinates are different from the computer and from the human. According to the story American hero John Glenn makes the decision to go with Katherine's calculations and the rest is history. I didn't think hidden figures was a particularly Oscar-worthy film but it's most certainly enjoyable and uplifting and not nearly as harsh as many and it's genre.





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