Tag Archives: Jim Parsons

Hidden Figures (2016)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Hidden Figures</strong> (2016)

(On Cable TV, September 2017) While I’m convinced that revisionist works such as Hidden Figures are essential in making full sense of history (which doesn’t rely solely on the majority-status figureheads, but also the unnamed masses actually doing the work), I can’t get rid of a feeling of annoyance when the fiction proves to be more revolting than the reality. I am, of course, showing my white privilege when I point out that Hidden Figures manipulates historical facts to make life seem even more terrible for its black female protagonists. (The entire washroom subplot, as infuriating as it is, never happened in real life.)  Still, there is a lot to like in what Hidden Figures actually does. “Coloured computers” packs so much wrongness in two words that it’s almost a relief to see a movie sidestep the heroics of The Right Stuff to show who was behind much of the mathematical grunt work. It helps that Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe make great heroines, and that capable white actors such as Kevin Costner and Kirsten Dunst are (for once!) relegated to support roles. (Meanwhile, there’s Jim Parsons being Jim Parsons—for all of the acclaim that he’s gotten for Sheldon Cooper, the more I see him in other venues the more I’m seeing him in the same role.)  The historical recreation of NASA’s early days (dramatic inaccuracies aside) is also impressive, and Hidden Figures more than finds its way alongside The Right Stuff and Apollo 13 as essential movies for space program enthusiasts. Which makes the inaccuracies worse, in a way—I’d settled for a less dramatic film if it meant a more accurate one: it’s not as if the basic story wasn’t inspiring enough…

Home (2015)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Home</strong> (2015)

(In French, Video on Demand, October 2015)  By now, the conventions of animated kids movies have been codified in an industry standard that only the daring or the foolhardy dare to ignore.  You can recognize the average middle-of-the-road animated feature by how well if hews to that formula: imaginative concept involving a bit of fantasy or science-fiction; a resolutely cheerful tone that still allows for a few moments of terror or sadness; a younger protagonist with fantastical friends; high-energy musical number and action sequences; and celebrity voices.  Home checks off all of these items twice.  It’s about a curiously dim-witted alien invasion that relocates all humans to dense custom suburbs in desert Australia, but it’s mostly about how a young teenager quests to reunite with her mother and understand an alien outcast who becomes her best ally.  Cats, broken syntax, the Eiffel tower and another alien race all complicate the plot, but by and large Home is about a girl trying to get back to her mom.  Having seen the film in French, I missed out on Jim Parson’s voice acting as the alien, but a few of Rihanna’s songs are featured in their original language.  (The broken language jokes are valiantly translated in French –although a few of them have to be back-translated in English to make sense.)  It’s an amiable and colorful film, definitely quirky enough to be interesting for adults, while being good-natured and funny enough for the younger set.  I’ll note that alien invasions are, by now, such a familiar SF concept that the film can dispense of the invasion sequence in a few minutes and then take place entirely after the event. (The film also gets to play a bit with the idea of alien invaders, all in the service of a non-violent film)  The standout sequence of the film is an imaginative action sequence featuring a levitating Eiffel tower being thrown off-balance and scratching a bit of the Parisian landscape.  Home does not manage to make enough of its elements to propel itself in the front-row of animated features: it’s a by-the-numbers affair, amusing but unremarkable.  That’s not necessarily bad, but there are plenty of other similar features to take up your time if you’re in the mood for that kind of thing.