The Sums of the Parts #hiddenfigures #filmreview


There are a fair few films about just now that consider, directly or indirectly, the lot of the African American: Moonlight, Fences, to an extent Jackie, Loving. Hidden Figures is in that mold.

The story of the African American and female contribution to the NASA space programme passed me by as, I’m guessing, it had many. Yet here were three women whose contributions should have been better known . Not only would they have been extraordinary for anyone, for them to be Black and Female at the time of the prejudices rife in societies such as the USA (not that we would have been any better) makes them historic.

And this was a film that allowed you to cheer the underdog, to silently scream ‘hell yeah’ when the cohort of women ‘computers’ – essentially a derogatory term for the people who did the immensely complex calculations before NASA acquired the mechanical computing power we rely in today – were showing up their white male colleagues.

Yet it really did miss a trick. It was Disney Does Race, a neatly packaged sanitised biopic. The goodies were good, the baddies just weak and stereotypical. Some – like the fat white male cop at the start – allowed to be forgiven because he was duped. Only the NASA boss played by Costner – another one of those actors whose always playing himself I think- had shades of grey.

And such was the focus on the Race card, the issue of women generally being involved in what many would have seen as a male domain got a bit lost for me. The white women were drawn as stuck up, prejudiced and secondary in intellect. Why? Sure I bet some were prejudiced, much like the men, but some were geniuses too and discriminated against for their sex. But that would have diluted the civil rights message.

Indeed the fact that there were no black men depicted at NASA in this film screamed for an explanation. It just felt like it was Janet and John does the History of NASA rather than a sophisticated story. Perhaps focusing on the three women led to that problem; had it been one only…

But don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed myself. It was feel good and frothy and told a story that definitely needs a proper airing. But it could have been so much more. Maybe some of the protagonists are still alive . I don’t know about 50 but a few shades of grey would have been welcomed.

I must mention the seats. Normally we go to a Picturehouse cinema in South London. The seats are, ummm, just seats, they flip up, they have backs and arm rests and everyone sorts of understands the mechanics. At the Empire Leicester Square – the only place showing this film on a Saturday night – really, is it that underrated? – they have these seats that just keep on tipping until you feel sure you’re on Graham Norton (look up his Big Red Chair if you don’t know). There was no way of stopping yourself going where the seat wanted you to go without a lot of concentration. And just at the point when you reached a balance some pillock decides to squeeze along the row behind you, grabbing the back of you seat and sending your head into the recovery position and forcing you to kick the seat in front, dislodging that punter from their careful equilibrium. I go to the cinema to watch a film, not demonstrate Newtonian physics that every action has an equal and opposite way to piss everyone else off.

But the good news was the Ben & Jerrys. Cool. Peanut butter cup and vanilla.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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13 Responses to The Sums of the Parts #hiddenfigures #filmreview

  1. Ritu says:

    Another film I’d like to watch. Thanks for the review His Geoffleship 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved the seats 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Erika Kind says:

    I heard about this movie and would love to watch it too!! Thanks for the reminder, Geoffle!


  4. Thanks for a mindful review, Geoff. (One part of what you said, saturates everything in my area… but I’ll stop with that vague statement, and just agree with you.)
    Ummm…. Ben & Gerry’s…
    Wishing you a wonder-filled weekend. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’d love to see that movie, Geoff. You make some interesting points, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. trifflepudling says:

    The story had penetrated my dense skull via a tv documentary a few years ago and I was glad when I heard a film was being made. Shame they missed an opportunity, though still plan to see it next weekend. Film scripts often seem over-simplified these days, like they think we’re all dim or something. Nice review, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is such an amazing idea and, like you say, needs some air/exposure. I’m upset about the parts you’ve mentioned here. That wouldn’t sit well with me (especially in those chairs) and it’s a shame it could have been much more. Still, I’ll probably see it or, perhaps, watch the documentary.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. These aren’t film reviews, are they, Geoff? They’re ice cream reviews. A movie that’s on my to watch list, if I catch it in time – they’re only out for a few weeks before they’re pulled from cinemas so the DVD can go on sale.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Charli Mills says:

    Just watched Octavia Spencer on SNL last night. If you saw her in The Help, you know about the “pie” her character baked with that special chocolate look alike ingredient. Last night she offered it to Kate McKinnon’s spoof of our recused Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. Made my night! Eat sh** pie Trump adminstration! Okay, mind wandered… I’ve heard this same criticism of Hidden Figures. The fact that Moonlight soon best picture says we are ready for more complex stories. But not all Americans are. When your nation is built on the backbone of slavery, coming to terms with race is like spinal surgery.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sacha Black says:

    oh man, I kinda hoped this would be both race and women power. Bit disappointed to hear it forgot that women are women no matter their skin colour. I guess I’ll still watch it, but maybe not as urgent now. Lol to the seats!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Mary P says:

    Shame they missed an opportunity, though still plan to see it next weekend. !

    Liked by 1 person

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