First Man is a 2018 biographical drama directed by Damien Chazelle and written by Josh Singer. The film is based on the book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen. Steven Spielberg serves as an executive producer. First Man follows the years leading up to the Apollo 11 mission that was designated to go to the Moon in 1969. I’ve learned a lot about the NASA program as well as the complex personal life of Neil Armstrong, which was brilliantly preformed.
**** SLIGHT SPOILERS BELOW ****
First Man starts out in 1961 with NASA test pilot Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) flying the X-15 rocket plane when it inadvertently bounces off the stratosphere. Although he manages to land the plane in the Mojave Desert, his colleagues express concern that his recent record of mishaps is due to distraction and he is grounded. At this point it is evident that there is something wrong with Neil. It is revealed shortly that his young daughter, Karen, is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor. It is obvious Karen is the apple of his eye and the love of his life. Desperate to save her, Neil keeps a detailed log of her symptoms and feverishly tries to find possible treatments, but she soon passes on. Distraught, Neil applies for Project Gemini and is accepted to NASA Astronaut Group 2. Neil’s wife Janet (Claire Foy), and their son Rick move to Houston alongside other astronaut families. Neil and Elliot See (Patrick Fugit), another civilian test pilot become friends along with Ed White (Jason Clarke), the first American astronaut to walk in space. As Neil begins training, Deke Slayton (Kyle Chandler) impresses upon the new astronauts the importance of the Gemini program, as the Soviet Union had reached every milestone in the Space Race ahead of the United States. While still in training, Neil and Janet have a second son, Mark.
By 1965, the family has settled in Houston, and Neil awaits selection for a crew. After the Soviets complete the first extravehicular activity (EVA), Neil is informed that he will be the commander of Gemini 8, along with David Scott (Christopher Abbott) as the pilot. Prior to the mission, See and Charles Bassett are killed in a T-38 crash. Armstrong and Scott successfully launch Gemini 8, and dock with the Agena target vehicle, but soon afterward, the spacecraft begins to spin at a rapid rate. After nearly blacking out, Neil activates the RCS thrusters and safely aborts the mission. Armstrong initially faces criticism, but NASA determines the crew is not at fault. Later, Ed White reveals that he has been selected for the Apollo 1 mission along with Gus Grissom (Shea Whigham), one of the original Mercury Seven astronauts and Roger Chaffee (Cory Michael Smith), capsule communicator for the Gemini 3 and Gemini 4 missions, and the third crew member who was killed with Grissom and White in the Apollo 1 pre-launch test. During a plugs-out test on January 27, 1967, a fire kills the Apollo 1 crew, and Armstrong hears the news while representing NASA at the White House.
I’ve introduced you to a small window of events as depicted by First Man. Neil Armstrong appears to be a brilliant introverted man who never got over the death of his daughter, Karen, which caused him to become an astronaut in the first place. Although the events of First Man is history, it’s worth seeing because of it’s 95% accurate accounts of what actually happened. Many men were killed trying to make the moon walk take place and millions of dollars were spent in a race against time, trying to insure that the United States of American would be first on the moon. This was an intense movie, brilliantly acted and brilliantly exhibited as the scenes were lifelike and captured the seriousness of the moment. I liked First Man very much, as it is an epic lesson of historian proportion and I highly recommend it to all. Kudos to Damien Chazelle for his brilliant direction on First Man. Check it this one out!
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Tagged apollo 11, ben owen, brian d'arcy james, buzz aldrin, christopher abbott, christopher c kraft jr, ciaran hinds, claire foy, corey stoll, cory michael smith, david scott, deke slayton, ed white, elliot see, ethan embry, first man, gemini, gil scott-heron, guenter wendt, gus grissom, janet shearson, jason clarke, jd evermore, jim lovell, john david whalen, john glenn, john hodge, joseph a walker, kris swanberg, kyle chandler, leon bridges, lukas haas, marilyn see, mercury seven, mercury seven astronauts, michael collins, nasa, neil armstrong, olivia hamilton, Pablo Schreiber, patricia white, patrick fugit, pete conrad, richard f gordon jr, robert r gilruth, roger b chaffee, ryan gosling, shawn eric jones, shea whigham, skyler bible, steven coulter, wally schirra, x-15
Manchester by the Sea is an intense movie but not for some time. You will sit though some pretty boring dialogue before you get to the real gist of what’s going on. I kept wondering, why all the rave reviews? Eventually, there came a time in the story when the events changed and as a result, everything else was effected, including my thoughts about how mundane I thought Manchester by the Sea was. It turned out to be a monster of a movie with brilliant acting, just don’t expect more than a good, sad story.
From the onset of Manchester by the Sea, you see Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), who seems to have an extremely lax attitude, working as a super or janitor with no satisfaction as he idly moves from task to task. He seems robotic, unambitious, uncaring and unmotivated as if life has little meaning. Suddenly, he gets a phone call that requires him to go back to his original home in Manchester where his brother, Joe Chandler (Kyle Chandler) has just passed away, unexpectedly. Once there, we get the true story of Lee’s current situation. His late brother has a 16 year old son, Patrick Chandler (Lucas Hedges) who is still in high school and is now in need of a guardian. Lee struggles with having to take on the responsibility of guardianship. The reasons for Lee’s behavior and lackluster existence is the heart of the story, Manchester by the Sea. We find that Lee had real roots in Manchester that he could never go back to. In order not to spoil the surprises, twist and turns in this story, I will say no more.
I find Manchester by the Sea to be a very sad story but one that is profound, touching and heartfelt. It is definitely worth seeing. Casey Affleck was brilliant as Lee Chandler. Michelle Williams also delivers a fantastic performance as Randi Chandler. Check it out!
[Manchester by the Sea is nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Writing: Original Screenplay]
Life and especially the way people thought in 1952 was quite different from what it is today. Carol is set in New York and deals with two gay women, Therese Belivet, (Rooney Mara) a sales girl and aspiring photographer working in Frankenberg’s department store in Manhattan and an older, glamorous woman, Carol Aird, (Cate Blanchett) who was shopping for a gift for her daughter, Rindy, (Sadie Heim) during the Christmas holiday. After purchasing a set of trains and having a friendly conversation with Therese, Carol accidentally leaves her gloves behind. Using Carol’s sales slip to obtain her name and address, Therese returns the gloves to Carol by mail. Carol, who is going through a messy divorce from her husband, Harge, (Kyle Chandler) calls the department store to thank Therese for sending her gloves and invites Therese to lunch. Once the two ladies meet, they find that they are intrigued with one another, thus a relationship begins. Carol invites Therese to New Jersey for Christmas at her home. Therese uses the opportunity to also take pictures as well as cultivate a relationship.
Before the evening gets started, Harge appears and announces he has come to take Rindy away with him for the holidays. An argument ensues, Harge is suspicious of Therese and things get ugly. Everyone leaves and the plot thickens. Carol is mostly about what encounters after this incident, so I won’t tell any more of the story. As usual, Cate Blanchett’s acting was outstanding and while I’m not familiar with Rooney Mara, who reminds me of a young Mia Farrow, is also a brilliant actress. She played a gay Therese with an innocence that was so convincing, I believed her every word. Carol was slow but I couldn’t see it directed any other way. We had to get to know the character of Carol who was sophisticated and eloquent and Therese who was quiet and somewhat passive. Carol is a pretty good movie if you like a nice soft, quite film to ponder.
[Carol is nominated for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Costume Design, Original Score and Adapted Screenplay]
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Tagged aird, carol, cate blanchett, christmas holiday, frankenberg, gay, harge aird, kyle chandler, rindy, rooney mara, sadie heim, therese belivet