First Man (1/2 Hats)

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Kelvin Says Hats On:

Just saw “First Man” – High Moon. Conclusion: 5/10. Damien Chazelle has had a meteoric of sorts the past few years. I loved his last two directorial works Whiplash and La La Land – both landing in my top 10s for their respective years. Having three directorial credits to his name, all movies broadly about Jazz, making this film, decidedly not about that, was a curious choice. Taking a first step into a new genre, it would seem expected that the story being told is one of great interest to Chazelle. Maybe that is true, but the movie lacks any real conviction. It is technically impressive and there’s no reason to doubt the underlying talent. However, I disliked some of the artistic choices, notably the cinematography. Shaky camera techniques and close-ups abound, and it just felt too claustrophobic. I think both those things are fine in moderation, but the effect becomes annoying after a while. Narratively, I found it to be equally shaky at times. It seems to stay true to the closed off man Armstrong was. It doesn’t try to make him into someone he wasn’t for the sake of the movie. I’d say that’s the right move, but it ends up feeling far too closed off in the end. The movie doesn’t take a deeper and more refined look at much of anything. Some hints are sprinkled in here and there, but they feel unimportant and unmoving. For the most part, those are the emotions I think this movie elicits. Ryan Gosling is a fine actor, however, I found it difficult to find much dimensionality to his portrayal. His take on Armstrong feels rather blank. For her part, I think Claire Foy was able to bring some freshness to the Tortured Wife trope. The movie affords her quite a bit and Foy brings an intensity to her performance that was totally stirring. I wonder, if when looking back at Chazelle’s career in another decade, if this will seem like an exercise for him. Near the movie’s conclusion, the famous JFK speech plays about going to the moon not because it is easy but because it is hard. It’s a line that fits the movie as a whole pretty well. It feels like Chazelle’s motives for telling this story might be coming from a similar place.

As an aside, because everything involving the American flag anymore seems to get devolved into the absolute dumbest comprehensible terms, I feel obligated to address some of the more idiotic criticism of the movie that is coming from some on the political right. No, the planting of the flag is not shown. I found it to be a bit of an underwhelming choice artistically, but to state this movie is “embarrassed at the achievement coming from America” as President Trump did is among the dumber things he has said; though it’s difficult to keep that list up-to-date. The movie has a glaringly obvious reverence for not only all the people involved in this operation, but also for what it meant for the country and the world. There is literally footage of a French woman saying she never doubted America could do something so great. Anyway, I’ll stop there, lest I start actually ranting about ill-conceived cultural critiques.

#RocketMan #NeilOrNoDeal #LiveArmstrong #TakeTheLBJ #AgeOfAldrin #RageAgainstTheDyingOfTheWhite #AstroNot


Adam Says Hats Off:

Saw First Man: Neil, Hurl, and the Dying World

Rating as follows:
Total: 8.2/10
Cinematography (1.7): 1.2
Overall Acting (1.6): 1.4
Writing (1.5): 1.2
Entertainment Factor (1.2): 1.0
Score/Sound Mixing (1.1): 1.0
Best Category – Score (1.0): 1.0
Depth of Plot (1.0): 0.8
Character Development (0.5): 0.4
Overall Message (0.4): 0.2

The long-anticipated return of director Damien Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash) has finally arrived! His first two movies centered heavily around music and entertainment, so this was “one giant leap” for him. This was an intimate look into the life of Neil Armstrong and many of the obstacles he had to overcome, both in his personal life and as an astronaut. Ryan Gosling was excellent, as usual, as was Claire Foy, who played his wife. We saw it in IMAX and I quickly realized we should have sat a few rows back from where we were. There is a lot of use of the shaky camera here, and while it works in some parts, it becomes a little much in others. That’s my only real knock. The music was outstanding. It was done by Justin Hurwitz who previously worked with Chazelle on La La Land. I loved the use of the harp and strings throughout, as well as the haunting sound of the theremin. The story itself was deep and emotional, and touched on the many areas that made their mission so difficult. I would have liked to see a little more about the difficulty of the mission itself, but they spent more time on personal matters, which I was fine with. Highly recommend checking it out!

#DarkSideOfTheMoon #StretchArmstrong #WhiteysOnTheMoon #GeminiCricket

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