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
While I love musicals, I didn’t think La La Land was the fabulous movie I had heard it was going to be. It’s a love story with a clever title and a clever twist. It’s mostly uplifting and gives you “warm fuzzies” throughout the film. Mia (Emma Stone) meets Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) for the first time on a crowded highway, each going to their respective destinations. She flips the bird at him for his reckless driving and he keeps it moving. After continuously running into each other, they decide it’s time to strike up a real conversation. They become friends, then lovers — and so the romance begins. Mia is an aspiring actress that can’t seem to land a role and Sebastian is a jazz keyboardist who can’t seem to get his career on the right track. She continues to get turned down at every audition she tries out for and he gets fired as a piano player at a popular night club and lounge on Christmas Eve by the manager, Bill (J. K. Simmons). Desperate for work, Sebastian takes on a position with a rock band that doesn’t play any jazz. He hates it but it’s a job. Eventually, Sebastian runs into a friend, Keith (John Legend) who has a jazz band featuring a new sound, Keith defines as modern jazz. Reluctant to join, Sebastian finally gives in and begins to throw himself into this very successful band. He abandons his dream of owning his own jazz night club where he plays endless jazz into the wee hours of the night. Sebastian’s objective is to save jazz music, as it is beginning to die out. Mia, on the other hand decides to write and perform in a one woman play. She feels it will be her only chance at becoming a star actress. Their hopes and dreams, which are all embodied around their professions, are light years away from each other.
The movie picks up when John Legend comes on board because the music gets better and the dialogue becomes more alive. Mia and Sebastian actually begin too share meaningful conversations and discover they have a dilemma. La La Land doesn’t have a huge cast, plus Emma and Ryan, who have several song and dance scenes, are not the greatest singers in the world but they are excellent actors.
If La La Land had not been nominated for an Oscar, I probably would have waited for the Blu-Ray/DVD release. La La Land is a decent story with good acting and good music however, I’ve seen and am use to much better. BTW: the La stands for Los Angeles (where the film mostly took place), the second La represents a fantasy world, hence the term la la land. I recommend the movie to those who really like musicals as I somewhat liked it myself, I just didn’t find it to be “all that” fantastic!
[La La Land is nominated for 14 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Music: Original Score, Music: Original Song (for 2 songs), Production Design, Sound Mixing and Writing: Original Screenplay]
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Tagged bill, emma stone, j k simmons, jazz, john legend, keith, la la land, mia, musical, ryan gosling, sebastian
The Big Short is a brilliant piece of film work. To keep excitement, interest and focus on financials from so many different perspectives for 128 minutes in not easy. The Big Short played like a well oiled machine. Each player was like a detective unraveling a case and there were many players. In 2005, Michael Burry (Christian Bale) noticed the US housing market was very unstable because of subprime loans based on high risk, providing very few returns. He predicted that the market would collapse around the second quarter of 2007 but he also realized he could profit from the situation by creating a credit default swap market that would allow him to bet against the housing market. He went to several banks and successfully sold his idea. However, his clients felt he was wasting their money and demanded that he cease all activities plus return their money but Burry refused. As tempers heated, Burry placed a moratorium on withdrawals, which made his investors even more angry. The market did indeed collapse as Burry predicted and he produced 489% profits from his plan.
Trader, Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) hears of Burry’s actions so he decides to put his own plan into something call the credit default swap market. In turn Hedge Fund Manager, Mark Baum (Steve Carell) joins Vennett. Together they discover the collapse is being further perpetuated by the sale of CDOs (collateralized debt obligations) that are pretty much worth nothing but dishonestly AAA rated. After attending the American Securitization Forum in Las Vegas, Mark finds synthetic CDOs have now entered into the market, which will render the market completely helpless at the banks’ expense, so he decides to go through with the credit default swaps to make a bundle for himself while the economy goes belly up.
Two young investors, Charlie Geller (John Magaro) and Jamie Shipley (Finn Wittrock) discover a paper by Vennett that leads them to become involved with the credit default swaps. Because they fall short of an ISDA, they had to turn to a friend and retired banker, Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt) to help them pull off all they would need to be successful in this endeavor. Together they attended the mortgage securities forum in Las Vegas and made lots of deals. The two were never happier to make deals that would result in making them super rich but bring the economy to its knees at the same time. Rickert wasn’t happy but didn’t pull out either. Brad Pitt’s performance was phenomenal.
The Big Short is a fast moving film that really says it all when it came to the endless financial corruption that ran rampart during the end of the Bush Administration. I don’t feel anyone paid enough for all the crime that happened. So many innocent people lost everything and some even lost their lives. The Big Short really told it like it was. The acting was fantastic. I enjoyed the movie and recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind getting upset at how easily these guys manipulated the US economy.
[THE BIG SHORT is nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Film Editing and Adapted Screenplay]
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Tagged ben rickert, brad pitt, CDOs, charlie geller, christian bale, finn wittrock, isda, jamie shipley, jared vennett, john magaro, mark baum, michael burry, ryan gosling, steve carell, the big short