Author: Grace Porter

Hidden Figures Favors Drama Over Impact

Overview: Three black women employed by NASA in the early 1960s solve mathematical equations essential to the success of the space program’s manned missions. 20thCentury Fox; 2016; Rated PG; 127 minutes. Women in History: In the early 1960s, a team of black women worked for NASA as mathematicians and engineers to help the U.S. beat the Soviets in the race to space – and none of us knew about them. Hidden Figures shines the spotlight on three real-life women: Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), a brilliant mathematician who graduated high school at 14, college at 18, and taught math before becoming the...

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Jackie Is All Towering Performance

Overview: In the week after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, his wife, Jackie, is tasked with making impossible decisions to preserve his legacy while grieving publicly and privately. Fox Searchlight Pictures; 2016; Rated R; 100 minutes. “A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.”: Jackie (Natalie Portman) slides up to the front of the hearse to ask the driver if he knows who James Garfield was. What about William McKinley? No? Abraham Lincoln? Yes, of course he knows who Abraham Lincoln was. What did he do? He was the president who freed the...

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THE LION: An Interview with Benjamin Scheuer

THE LION begins without introduction. This one-man musical is simply staged – Benjamin Scheuer, his suit, and six guitars—each characters in their own right—tell the autobiographical, coming-of-age story of now thirty-something Scheuer’s relationship with his father, first love, family discord, and devastating medical diagnosis. The musical is written and performed by Scheuer; he’s charming, witty, and poised, and, most of all, generous with his story. He’s a brilliant lyricist, the kind who doesn’t waste a word. Music, the thing that binds him to his father, is his  tool for forgiveness, redemption, and clarity, and in listening to his words,...

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Allied is a Narrowly Focused World War II Drama

Overview: A Canadian intelligence officer and a French resistance fighter pose as a married couple to assassinate a Nazi ambassador in Casablanca in 1942. They start a new life in London but are soon forced to confront realities of the war. Paramount Pictures; 2016; Rated R; 124 minutes. Come for the Spies, Deal with the Love Story: If ever there were a film sabotaged by its trailer, it would be Allied. It is clever, though, to sell the film as an espionage thriller since much of its audience wouldn’t attend if they knew ahead of time that this is...

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Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk Meanders Aimlessly

Overview: After a brutal battle in Iraq, Billy Lynn and his fellow soldiers are hailed as heroes and brought home for a victory tour, but through flashbacks it’s revealed that the realities of the war in Iraq and Americans’ perceptions are vastly different. TriStar Pictures; 2016; Rated R; 110 minutes. Comedy, Tragedy: In the second to last scene, where the (not) Dallas Cowboys cheerleader is saying goodbye to Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn), it finally occurred to me that Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk might have been a black comedy. But I’m not exactly beating myself up over not getting...

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