HIDDEN FIGURES (2016) News3LV.com Score: A

Rated: PG
Time: 2:07


I loved HIDDEN FIGURES and so will you. This is one of the most enjoyable films of 2016. There is such a wonderful energy that you will feel in watching the performances of the sisterhood of Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae. Each brings a strength of character, competence and ambition. They are true heroes fighting against racial segregation and workplace sexism. They never lose their optimism. Despite given data entry jobs, they truly know their self-worth and are deserving of promotion.

I cannot remember any film in recent memory — whose screenplay is rewarded with such strong and consistent audience reactions. Don’t be surprised if you hear applause throughout the two plus hours, as each segregated policy as well as each racist procedure finally — finally, comes to an end.

Barriers were broken. What took place at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia must never be forgotten. Discrimination by gender must never be tolerated — yet still exists today! This true story of institutional racism carries added relevance as a result of the toxic racism found in today’s America. Every life matters. When will the day come when the dream of Martin Luther King becomes a reality. The lessons of “People who are judged by the color of their skin rather than by their character” must be taught in our families and in our schools.

Let me digress. If HIDDEN FIGURES sounds like a serious drama, please note that it is not. This is a clever, warm, absolutely charming and laugh out loud comedy –with an idealistic edge.

This true story takes place in the early 1960’s during the height of the Cold War. For those of us old enough to remember those days, America had a race with the Soviet Union to put a man up in space. What I didn’t realize until watching HIDDEN FIGURES, was that NASA needed a lot of real-live mathematicians to calculate the flight trajectories of the Atlas rocket. What we also learn from this film is one member of this unit played a crucial role in the flight that made the late John Glenn the first American to orbit the Earth. This American hero always felt that Katherine Goble (played by Taraji P. Henson) was indispensable to his Friendship 7 mission. Dorothy Vaughan (played by Octavia Spencer) became NASA’s first Black supervisor. And Mary Jackson (played by Janelle Monae) who became a graduate engineer, had been forced to petition the city of Hampton in order to take the required extension classes that were only held in an all-white high school.

Never again: separate drinking fountains; separate toilets; separate coffee pots.
See this movie with your children and take the time afterwards to have a serious discussion.

It is nice to see Kevin Costner on the screen, playing the pivotal NASA manager Al Harrison. He is such a marvelous actor. And I would be remiss in this review if I didn’t call attention to Lidya Jewett, who plays Katherine as a gifted child growing up in West Virginia during the 1920’s. The love of Katherine’s life (and later husband), Col. Jim Johnson, is played by Mahershala Ali. Do not miss his Oscar level performance in MOONLIGHT — one of the best pictures of 2016. Other cast members include Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Glen Powell and Olek Krupa.

The film is directed by Theodore Melfi. He directed one of my all-time favorite Bill Murray films, ST. VINCENT (2014 ). The screenplay is adapted by Mr. Melfi and Allison Schroeder. The script is adapted from the non-fiction book by Margot Lee Shetterly. The period cinematography is under the direction of Mandy Walker.

HIDDEN FIGURES thus receives the first “A” review given in the our new News3LV.com ratings system. In 2015, at the age of 97, Katherine Johnson was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Obama in a ceremony held at the White House.

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