Octavia Spencer

REVIEW: Hidden Figures (2016)

hidden-figures-posterThe true story of a team of African-American women mathematicians including Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) who played a vital part in NASA during the early years of the American space programme.

Each of the three leads are brilliant in their roles. They feel like friends who laugh together and support each other but they are also so incredibly smart. Their chemistry is palpable. Katherine is a human computer and can figure out maths that hasn’t even been invented yet, Dorothy is wise enough to get ahead of the game, learn things like IBM computing and make her and her colleagues invaluable to NASA, and Mary wants to be an engineer and while her boss, a Polish Jew, can see her potential, she fights when every door seems to be shut in her face.

The supporting cast is great too. Jim Parsons’ Paul Stafford is one of the mathematicians who doesn’t like Katherine is smarter than him and just about every other man in the room, Kirsten Dunst’s Vivian Mitchell is Dorothy’s boss and Kevin Costner’s Al Harrison is in charge of the division that works out how to put a man in space and bring him down again.

Hidden Figures isn’t a particularly surprising film as it has the same standard formula just about any true story film has – but that doesn’t diminish how brilliant it is. Hidden Figures knows exactly what it is and it doesn’t need huge twists because the history and these women’s lives are interesting enough.

On a purely aesthetic level Hidden Figures is a beautiful-looking movie. The costumes, hair and makeup are brilliant and the soundtrack is full of catchy songs from Pharrell Williams and Mary J. Blige. The score reunites Pharrell Williams and Hans Zimmer and they produce music that’s exciting and heartfelt and fits the time period and the film itself wonderfully.

Hidden Figures celebrates those who history, and society, tends to overlook and shows the power of perseverance and friendship. It is amazing to see a film with three African-American leads who are masters in their field. It’s an inspiring yet also frustrating when you see what these women had to put up with, yet they still wanted to be a part of something amazing and contributed to NASA’s success. Hidden Figures will leave you with a huge smile on your face but along the way you may shed some tears, both happy and sad, and it’s really a great, crowd-pleasing movie. 5/5.

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REVIEW: Snowpiercer (2013)

snowpiercer elenasquareeyesSet in a future where the world is in a new ice age and all life on the planet has died except the lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe. On the train a class system emerges where people like Mason (Tilda Swinton) control the train and those at the tail end struggle to survive.

Snowpiercer is a phenomenal film. That might sound like a bit of an over-exaggeration but it’s really not. It does a great job building this desolate world and the class system on the train that you can believe in and accept all the characters and their motives. Curtis (Chris Evans) becomes the sort of leader of the people from the tail end of the train, he is the one who puts their plans into action and makes the tough choices. You learn more about him as the film progresses and really his journey through the train is a much a physical one as a mental one.

You could say there’s some typical characters for the genre, there’s the wise old man (John Hurt), Curtis’ right-hand man (Jamie Bell), the tough mother figure (Octavia Spencer) and the silent genius (Kang-ho Song) but through brilliant performances and an interesting script, they become more fleshed out and compelling.

The action sequences in Snowpiercer are gripping and well shot. The fights are all in such a confined space that it sometimes gets claustrophobic and the violence really is brutal. The cinematography is also worth a mention, the way colour is used at various points of the film is interesting and it really is like another character in the film.

The film does a great job at showing that actions have consequences and people will die. It may be a sci-fi film but it has a great social commentary amongst the action and the dialogue and chemistry between the characters is one of the highlights of the film.

Snowpiercer is an amazing film that everyone should watch and it’s really one of those films that work even better if you go into it knowing as little as possible. 5/5.

O is for Octavia Spencer

octaviaspencerOctavia Spencer is so cool. I’ve seen quite a few of her films and I want to see so many more.

She made an amazing Minny Jackson in The Help (2011), she was brave and strong and sassy and she was such a great friend to Celia (Jessica Chastain). I think The Help was the first film I saw Octavia Spencer in to be honest.

I think my favourite performance from Octavia Spencer as in Fruitvale Station (2013) as Wanda, the mother of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan). Fruitvale Station is a great film that is seriously emotional and Spencer’s performance as a grieving mother is just heart-breaking.

Octavia Spencer is also in Snowpiercer (2013), a dystopian film with an amazing cast that STILL HASN’T GOT A UK RELEASE DATE!!! Not even just a DVD release date! I’m not one for illegally watching stuff online or downloading things but I’ve been wanting to watch Snowpiercer for two years now so I may have to compromise this once soon.

Also she’s going to play God in a film adaptation of The Shack by William P. Young! Who doesn’t want to see Octavia Spencer as God?!