Tag Archives: Costner

Hidden Figures

7 Jan

One of the best films of 2016 (yes, it opened in New York City and Los Angeles a few weeks ago as part of awards season’s annual bait-and-switch shenanigans) happens to be a sentimental crowdpleaser that, for all its potential schmaltz and didactic pitfalls, maintains an incredibly poignant balance especially when it comes to matters of race – and there’s plenty of them; “Hidden Figures” is about three African-American women employed as engineers and mathematicians by NASA during the first space launch, just as Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic push for Civil Rights was gaining its groundswell.

It’s not a widely known bit of history, but Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Mary Jackson (singer Janelle Monáe, successfully doubling up as an actor) and Dorothy Vaughan (Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, killer good) toiled for NASA during the Mercury space program as engineers and computers – mathematicians doing the technical legwork before Big Blue dropped its first mainframe – and proved critical in getting John Glenn up and into orbit. One of the film’s most telling – and touching – moments comes when Glenn (Glen Powell) meets Johnson during a technical assembly of scientists and mucky-mucks where she’s not only the only woman or person of color in the room, but the only one able to solve complicated flight variables mathematically. Later, when there’s a snag in the mission and the reentry point needs recalculating, he asks for her aid, referring to her simply as the “the smart one.” Continue reading

Draft Day

12 Apr

‘Draft Day’: Football flick puts Costner back in play, falls short of his greatest

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Here’s something new: Kevin Costner back in a sports movie. Okay, maybe not new, but this time it’s football and not baseball, and he’s traded his cleats for a front-office job. “Draft Day” is supposed to be a funny, quirky race against the clock-cum-romance like “Jerry Maguire,” but it’s not all that funny. Costner channels his signature assured nonchalance as Sonny Weaver Jr., general manager of the Cleveland Browns.

041214i Draft DayThe film starts off on the morning of the big, titular day with Sonny going back and forth with his girlfriend Ali (Jennifer Garner) about who he might pick. And of course she has some big news to tell him, but his phone keeps ringing. Cleveland has the No. 1 pick in the draft and everyone wants it because there’s a QB out there who’s the next Tom Brady – interesting timing because the team that’s after him the most, the Seattle Seahawks, have Russell Wilson and just won the Super Bowl. It’s kind of the same post-shoot conundrum that afflicted “Fever Pitch” when the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years and the filmmakers had to scurry to stay with the times).

Sonny, who fired his beloved dad as head coach, seems to be a front office bonehead as he trades away the team’s next three No. 1 picks and appears to be on the verge of being shown the door by the team’s owner (Frank Langella), who’s just as concerned about flash and pomp as he is winning. It doesn’t help that Ali works for the Browns as well and they’re not out as a couple, even though everyone knows.  Continue reading