First Man reviews

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Re: First Man reviews

Postby Precious Doll » Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:33 am

I was six when the landing of the moon took place and I don't remember it. But to be fair I have never had any interest in outer space or what lies beyond our own planet. I also would have fitted perfectly in one of the protest scenes in First Man - no acting required on my part for sentiments that I share.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

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Re: First Man reviews

Postby Reza » Mon Oct 22, 2018 2:49 am

Precious Doll wrote:I was bored out of my mind watching this - waiting for something interesting to happen and it never does.

It funny its only the fourth film I can think of the deals with historical events in relation to the space race. The others are The Right Stuff (1983), Apollo 13 (1995) and the little known Australian film which is primarily a comedy called The Dish (2000), much loved in Australia but I have to admit that Rob Sitch's work has always left me rather stone faced.

I suppose I can't help but measure any of these films against Kaufman's 1983 masterpiece. Masterpiece is not a work I use lightly when commenting on cinema but it was and remains a truely staggering work that for me has literally ruined everything that has come since. Nothing since has caught the scope of space travel and done so with such a keen and satirical key. Its always uniformly brilliantly acted by the entire cast.

Ryan Gosling is one of the most magnetic young actors working today but boy is he dull and uninteresting in this. I know its destined for Oscar nominations but maybe not. How many people are likely to turn it off in boredom?


I found the film riveting and not boring at all. Maybe because I wasn't expecting it to be an action packed film in the first place. I was interested in the subject from the historical perspective - still vividly remember watching the actual walk on tv as a 7-year old - and liked how Chazelle deliberately keeps things at a slow pace showing us with a quiet urgency what the families have to go through. Gosling is now typecast as an actor with a slow burn but here he is playing a character who was difficult in expressing his feelings and he captures that perfectly. Also thought all of Chazelle's choices in the way he shot the moon sequences were not only thrilling but original. It's a slow film but not once did I anxiously glance at my watch. Really enjoyed it and yes I think it will be nominated in most of the major categories including Claire Foy who manages to create a fully rounded character despite being in few scenes.

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Re: First Man reviews

Postby Precious Doll » Mon Oct 22, 2018 2:27 am

I was bored out of my mind watching this - waiting for something interesting to happen and it never does.

It funny its only the fourth film I can think of the deals with historical events in relation to the space race. The others are The Right Stuff (1983), Apollo 13 (1995) and the little known Australian film which is primarily a comedy called The Dish (2000), much loved in Australia but I have to admit that Rob Sitch's work has always left me rather stone faced.

I suppose I can't help but measure any of these films against Kaufman's 1983 masterpiece. Masterpiece is not a work I use lightly when commenting on cinema but it was and remains a truely staggering work that for me has literally ruined everything that has come since. Nothing since has caught the scope of space travel and done so with such a keen and satirical key. Its always uniformly brilliantly acted by the entire cast.

Ryan Gosling is one of the most magnetic young actors working today but boy is he dull and uninteresting in this. I know its destined for Oscar nominations but maybe not. How many people are likely to turn it off in boredom?
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

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Re: First Man reviews

Postby Okri » Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:09 pm

I really liked it - if not quite as much as dws, way more than BJ.

That said, it doesn't even appear that it'll do Bridge of Spies numbers, which is disappointing, though having seen it, makes some sense.

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Re: First Man reviews

Postby dws1982 » Sat Oct 20, 2018 7:44 am

Saw it last night and admired it even more.

But it was in a small theater in my town (I usually ride over to Huntsville for movies), with thin, not very well-insulated walls. So at the exact moment where Armstrong steps down onto the surface of the moon, the soundtrack goes silent, and we get a feeling for the vast silence of outer space (a moment that really resonated in my first viewing), what did we get? Not the vast silence of outer space, but Lady Gaga singing about how she'll never love again.

Sound issues aside, I will say this theater is the best about ads and trailers before films: One trailer, then the movie, as opposed to a full twenty minutes of ads like some theaters.

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Re: First Man reviews

Postby Uri » Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:42 am

Richard Brody, The New Yorker wrote:He’s married; he and his wife, Janet (Claire Foy), have three children. When his young daughter, Karen, dies of cancer, at the age of two,


Once I see that someone don't get a very simple and obvious part of a plot (Neal and Janet never technically had three kids - they had two, the younger of them died and then had another one - Karen was their second child), I have doubts they really got the big picture, and this guy probably didn't. As Magilla said, this film is a character study of a very focused/limited human being. The film makes it very clear there is a lot of stuff around him which, unlike Buzz Aldrin, he makes his best to shut himself of. Richard Brody seems to have an agenda (I don't know him, but I guess it's the kind of agenda I probably agree with) and he forces the film to fit it. In a way, he's the mirror image of those on the Right who find the film un-American for not showing the flag on the moon.

Big Magilla wrote:The only dramatic license taken was with the bit about his daughter's bracelet at the end which was put in to further humanize him.


Not surprisingly, apart from the almost comically grandiose music accompanying the landing on the moon, this was the one element in the film I found most distracting. I thought it must have been something a Hollywood writer had concocted, and lo and behold, I was wright.

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Re: First Man reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Fri Oct 19, 2018 1:58 am

Yes, it's an interesting take, but not one I agree with. The screenplay is taken from aerospace historian James R. Hansen's best-selling book about Armstrong. While Chazelle may have been drawn to the material because he saw similarities in Armstrong's character to that of his fictional characters in his previous films, he didn't invent it. The only dramatic license taken was with the bit about his daughter's bracelet at the end which was put in to further humanize him.

Armstrong was self-absorbed. The film was about his self-absorption, not the larger picture about the NASA program or what else was going on in the world at the time. His musical identity was formed in the 1940s. Rightly or wrongly, he had no interest in The Beatles or any other pop phenomenon of the day. What would be the point of putting those things in the film?
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Re: First Man reviews

Postby Franz Ferdinand » Thu Oct 18, 2018 11:10 pm

An interesting take from New Yorker.

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-f ... ish-object

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Re: First Man reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Oct 15, 2018 11:06 am

I don't know what accounts for the tepid opening weekend box-office. Maybe it's astronaut burnout from Hidden Figures. Maybe it's the right wing noise about the planting of the flag on the moon not being shown. Maybe it's lack of interest due to that first dull trailer. Or as BJ suggests, maybe it's just one of those films that needs time to build.

I think the approach Chazelle takes works but this is apt to be one of those films that people like well enough to consider as one of the year's best but not their absolute favorite.

It's nice that the film ends on a happy note with Neil and Janet reconciled after the moon landing but their marriage ended in divorce in 1994, two years after Neil met his second wife.
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Re: First Man reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:29 pm

It's worth pointing out that First Man didn't have such a hot weekend at the box-office -- only $16.5 million. This pretty much rules out any chance of the movie becoming a Dunkirk-size hit. So now the best hope comparison would have to be something like Bridge of Spies, which did about the same on its opening weekend, but held decently well over the next few weekends to become a solid enough success.

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Re: First Man reviews

Postby dws1982 » Fri Oct 12, 2018 11:25 am

It's easy to see why Clint Eastwood was attracted to this story about ten years ago. (I think it was initially going to be a follow-up to his Iwo Jima duo.) Neil Armstrong is a classic Eastwood hero--driven by a sense of duty, somewhat distant in his personal relationships, reluctant to divulge much about his past or personal life. I could even imagine, if he were several decades younger, and not a few months older than Armstrong was, Eastwood playing Armstrong.

This is the rare movie that started off (for the first 45 minutes or so) with me not really liking it, only for me to fully end up in its corner by the end (even more so after thinking about it). Biopics are often made to celebrate the life of their protagonist, but here you get the sense that Chazelle has really made an effort to look at this story from Armstrong's perspective, and has constructed it in a way that truly feels not just in tune with Armstrong, the reluctant hero, but also in tune with the type of movie he might want made about his life. The structure of the film--half domestic drama, half action/thriller--seems to reflect the general tension in Armstrong's life--time with family contrasted with a career where life or death hung on hundreds of things that could go wrong if any one of the scores of hand-calculated equations were wrong. I think Chazelle's effort to make this movie truly representative of Armstrong is why it places weight on things that typical biopics ignore, and why it ignores (or deals abstractly with) things that typical biopics emphasize. It's why I think the first half of the film feels so episodic, and why the death of the daughter is circled around, and hovers over the entire film, but not touched on directly. Neil Armstrong understood the weight of what he was doing, and the enormous sacrifice it required of his family, which is why the tension in his marriage is handled the way it is, and why the sequence where he tells his sons (after a confrontation with his wife) that he may not return has such an enormous weight.

I also think that the performers are very much in sync with this approach. Gosling is very good, and I think he's very good in a way that is very much in tune with Chazelle's approach to the character. It's a performance that's really interesting if you look at it from an auteurist perspective, because I think you really can sense that the director and leading man are very much working in unison. (This approach doesn't afford Gosling any real "Oscar clip" scenes, and I wouldn't be shocked if he were left off the Best Actor list.) Foy has a more conventional role, still very much in line with what Chazelle is doing. She also has a couple of Oscar clip scenes, and I think she's an almost certain nominee.

As for Oscars, I think that the Sound prizes should both be in the bag--they're certain nominees, at least--and I would give it very strong consideration in Score as well. (It's so different from what Hurwitz wrote for La La Land but it really is excellent) Cinematography and Editing are probably sure nominees, along with Foy, and most likely the film itself, Chazelle, and probably Gosling, although like I said, he could get left off for a flashier nominee. Screenplay is a possibility, although if it's a stacked category, it wouldn't shock me if it falls through the cracks. Visual Effects--maybe, but I could also see the branch deciding that it doesn't have enough effects, or they aren't flashy enough.

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Re: First Man reviews

Postby Reza » Fri Oct 05, 2018 3:49 am

The Original BJ wrote:
Sabin wrote:Great take, BJ. Do you see First Man being greeted more with respect than passion in the Oscar race?


My hunch is the movie will be a hit at the box-office -- the combo of spectacle/familiar subject matter/strong reviews could make it something like the Dunkirk of this year, which isn't a bad position to be in. (It'll certainly be a top contender in all three Oscar categories Dunkirk won.)

I do think the movie has the potential to run into a snag that's not dissimilar to the one that tripped up La La Land, though -- does anyone doubt that some circles will question the point of rewarding a film celebrating the achievements of a bunch of white men from 50 years ago? Although I try to resist those kind of knee-jerk dismissals, I don't know that First Man offers up a great answer to the question "what is the purpose of this movie right now?"


Do movies really have to have a "purpose" to fit into whatever climate the world is in at any particular point in time?

What happened to the old fashioned (and less cynical) view that interesting stories about the past, present or future on the screen are to be welcomed without much ado.

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Re: First Man reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Oct 04, 2018 4:19 pm

Sabin wrote:Great take, BJ. Do you see First Man being greeted more with respect than passion in the Oscar race?


My hunch is the movie will be a hit at the box-office -- the combo of spectacle/familiar subject matter/strong reviews could make it something like the Dunkirk of this year, which isn't a bad position to be in. (It'll certainly be a top contender in all three Oscar categories Dunkirk won.)

I do think the movie has the potential to run into a snag that's not dissimilar to the one that tripped up La La Land, though -- does anyone doubt that some circles will question the point of rewarding a film celebrating the achievements of a bunch of white men from 50 years ago? Although I try to resist those kind of knee-jerk dismissals, I don't know that First Man offers up a great answer to the question "what is the purpose of this movie right now?"

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Re: First Man reviews

Postby Sabin » Thu Oct 04, 2018 3:02 pm

Great take, BJ. Do you see First Man being greeted more with respect than passion in the Oscar race?
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Re: First Man reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Sun Sep 30, 2018 1:12 am

First Man is a solid accomplishment, certainly at a technical level, where I doubt anyone would take issue with the movie's credentials as an impressive piece of filmmaking craft. I'd also say it's impressive in terms of the sense of verisimilitude it provides -- its portrait of the space race feels gritty and lived-in in a way that makes something like, say, Hidden Figures seem like the clear Hollywoodization that it is. I think both of these merits reach their peak in the moon landing sequence, a gripping and visually awe-inspiring set piece that pleasingly stays right with the astronauts, giving us a sense of what it must have felt like to be in such an alien, lonely environment. I kept thinking how a lesser movie would have cut from "one giant leap for mankind" right to cheering audiences watching on TV back on Earth, and I appreciated how this film wasn't interested in pushing buttons in that way.

But I can't say the bare-bones content here compelled me quite as much as the craft. There's a degree to which a film like this -- one that portrays an extremely well-known historical event from nearly 50 years ago -- feels like it needs to be more than simply a historical retelling. (Or, as Sabin likes to say, a Wikipedia movie.) And I can't say I thought the movie provided enough extra resonance. The most interesting thematic thread revolves around the questions about WHY human beings felt the need to go to the moon in the first place, and particularly whether or not the extreme costs and loss of human life along the way were worth it. (I particularly loved the way the build up to the Apollo 11 flight is treated so funereally, with moments like the pre-written condolence letter and the last meal that feels like the last supper of death row inmates providing real gravitas.) But when compared to something like The Right Stuff -- which used stories of the space race to make a much broader comment on the evolution of American society at that moment in history -- First Man's scope feels a little bit narrow. (I also would have liked more explanation of some of the nuts and bolts of what we were watching -- there were times when I felt unsure of what exactly was going wrong during some of the flights/simulations.)

Gosling and Foy are both strong actors who deliver just what their roles require. Neither really has a tour de force part -- Foy definitely has the strongest awards clip in her scene where she's demanding her husband say goodbye to his sons -- but both have genuinely moving moments. There's a pretty large ensemble cast of a bunch of recognizable actors, all of whom I was perfectly happy to see, though I do think the movie isn't as clear as it might be about exactly who everyone is at all times.

All in all, a perfectly respectable movie, though not one that really pushed my enthusiasm into rave territory.


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