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  #51  
Old 01-11-2017, 02:36 PM
Richard John Marcej Richard John Marcej is offline
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Originally Posted by Infovore View Post

I feel like I'm getting old, since I remember Kirsten Dunst as a teenager, not as a full-grown woman in a position of authority.
Or as Claudia, the little girl vampire in Interview with the Vampire when she was only 11.
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  #52  
Old 01-11-2017, 04:19 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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To me, Kirsten Dunst is Mary Jane, from Spider-Man.
  #53  
Old 01-11-2017, 04:59 PM
ftg ftg is offline
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BTW, once the dust settled Hidden Figures ended up coming out ahead of Rogue One for the box office weekend.

This is far better than most projections. Quite a feat. It also has an A+ CinemaScore.

This one is going to do quite well money-wise which will help its Oscar profile.

Looking forward to seeing it.
  #54  
Old 01-13-2017, 01:02 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
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Originally Posted by ftg View Post
BTW, once the dust settled Hidden Figures ended up coming out ahead of Rogue One for the box office weekend.

This is far better than most projections. Quite a feat. It also has an A+ CinemaScore.

This one is going to do quite well money-wise which will help its Oscar profile.

Looking forward to seeing it.
It will get a nod or two, but I'd be disappointed if it won anything. It was a good movie with decent performances. It was uplifting. It wasn't terribly well directed. The acting was good, but the roles lacked meat. Disney made it, and it shows.
  #55  
Old 01-17-2017, 06:57 AM
iiandyiiii iiandyiiii is offline
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Saw it with my wife this weekend, and we loved it. I was surprised to learn that the scene with Glenn insisting that Katherine personally check the numbers for his trajectory before launch was not Hollywood-ized, but actually happened almost exactly as portrayed on screen.
  #56  
Old 01-22-2017, 03:54 PM
Dendarii Dame Dendarii Dame is offline
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Saw it today. Inspiring. I heard a young girl shout as we were exiting, "I want to see that movie a thousand times!"

When Katherine entered the Pentagon meeting, I noticed she was wearing what I'd call "statement" earrings and a lovely brooch. So much for "you can only wear a simple strand of pearls"!

And I knew "Miss Mitchell" was going to call her "Mrs. Vaughan" by the end of the movie.

Last edited by Dendarii Dame; 01-22-2017 at 03:55 PM.
  #57  
Old 01-29-2017, 08:02 AM
ftg ftg is offline
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We finally got to see this last night.

Mostly a very good and well acted movie. The three main leads were especially well cast.

It's a good reminder that too much of the racism and sexism of that era still exists and is getting stronger.

The big problem with the movie is the historical inaccuracies keep piling up and up. Too many liberties were taken to put people together for key scenes.

Also they screwed up the Math too often.
  #58  
Old 01-29-2017, 11:37 AM
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I'm looking forward to this film being released over here.
  #59  
Old 01-30-2017, 03:33 AM
bienville bienville is offline
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I really liked it. Most of what I'd say has already been said except that I really think Taraji P Henson should have gotten an Oscar nomination and I'm disappointed that that didn't happen.
The film got other nominations, so it's not like Academy members didn't see the film.

I'd put her in the Best Actress category without hesitating to substitute her for Ruth Negga (excellent performance in a not too demanding role), Meryl Streep (excellent performance but, c'mon, she's Meryl fucking Streep, she can basically phone this shit in without breaking a sweat such that it's just not interesting anymore), or Natalie Portman (a talented actor who spent this whole movie struggling to maintain her accent and so never got around to bringing her A game for the actual acting).


The only other thing that struck me about the film that hasn't really been mentioned,
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Originally Posted by Infovore View Post
I feel like I'm getting old, since I remember Kirsten Dunst as a teenager, not as a full-grown woman in a position of authority.
Dunst is 34. I think she easily comes across as 36 or 37 in the film.
With Hollywood make-up and lighting, she could easily play 26 or 27. Taking full advantage of movie magic to play younger is the route most professional actresses would generally choose. And that's not an accusation of vanity. There's very real reason for an actress to worry about her career once she's seen as "older". Once you're seen as too old to play a 20-something lead, you'll almost disappear until you are old enough to play "mother" roles for the young adult lead characters.

So, I was pretty impressed with Dunst as an actor to agree to take this role and to not insist on make-up choices that would not have been true to the character.

I didn't even recognize her at first. It took until her third scene, or so, for me to have an "Ah-HA!" moment.
  #60  
Old 02-12-2017, 09:21 AM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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I saw it yesterday and loved it. The thing that got me was not the blatant racism (no n-word, thank Og) but the casual racism. Like no one even considered that Katherine would have to run across campus to use the restroom because there was no restroom for "her" in the building. She didn't question it, no one else questioned it, until the meltdown in the room as to why she was away from her desk so much.

I'd like to know more about Harrison. He saw the big picture that brains and aptitude were more important than gender or color. If you knew your stuff and were willing to stay late and do the work, then he didn't care where you peed.

I've reserved the book through Overdrive. Excellent film. So glad to see she's had a building named after her and is still alive!

And damn you, Ron Howard. You couldn't include Katherine in Apollo 13 with Tom Hanks?

Last edited by ivylass; 02-12-2017 at 09:23 AM.
  #61  
Old 02-12-2017, 10:28 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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ivylass, you might want to read look at this website, which I've already linked to once:

http://www.historyvshollywood.com/re...idden-figures/

The character of Al Harrison (played by Kevin Costner) wasn't a single real person. This composite character was based on three different people. Also, the segregation in the restrooms and the offices where people worked went away during the 1940's and 1950's, not during the 1960's. The film mushed together events from a couple of decades. Hidden Figures is a good movie for showing you the general idea of what went on, but the details of the film aren't remotely correct.
  #62  
Old 02-12-2017, 01:53 PM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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Yep, I read it, then realized I was too late to edit. I appreciate the link...lots of insight there. According to that link, Katherine didn't encounter any racism at work and used whatever restroom she needed to.
  #63  
Old 02-17-2017, 06:58 PM
commasense commasense is offline
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I saw the movie a few weeks ago, and was curious enough about the story to get the book. What struck me was that virtually none of the incidents depicted in the film are found in the book. Thanks to the History vs. Hollywood link above, I now know why: the book had not been finished when the script was written. The film was based on a 55-page treatment that author Margot Lee Shetterly had submitted to the publisher. Shooting was already under way when the book was released.

From my (increasingly unreliable) memory, here are a few things that the movie either invented or took from sources other than Shetterly's book:
  • The opening incident of the women being stopped by a cop on their way to Langley.
  • The three women being particularly close friends and regularly commuting together.
  • The whole business about Katherine having to run to another building to use the colored bathroom. By the mid-1950s, there were no colored bathrooms at Langley.
  • Therefore Kevin Costner's character (a fictional composite) never tore down a "colored" sign.
  • Mary Jackson had to get special permission to take night engineering classes in the white high school, but the book says nothing about her going to court and persuading a racist judge with her powerful rhetoric.
  • Katherine did calculate the re-entry formulas for Glenn's mission to check them against the IBM's results, but there was no last minute discrepancy and he didn't refuse to get into the capsule until she okayed them. The book doesn't even say that he specifically asked for her to check them, although other sources apparently do.
  • Dorothy Vaughan was one of the first women, black or otherwise, to learn FORTRAN and to learn to use the early IBM computers, but she didn't do it by slipping into the computer room at night and reading the manuals, thereby stumping the dumb guys who had installed it. Particularly egregious (IMHO) is the scene in which she grabs a meter probe, clips it to the one right wire in a rat's nest of wires to get the thing to work right, and says something like, "It helps that my daddy was an electrical engineer." Complete balderdash.
And that's just a few things I can recall off the top of my head. Of course, not all of them are particularly important.

This is not a historical anachronism or fictionalized incident, but the most ludicrous scene for me was the one in which Jim Parsons' engineer character explains how Glenn's capsule, unlike the previous sub-orbital missions, is going to orbit the earth. He uses the standard, "it's falling, but the earth is also curving away under it, so it keeps on going" explanation that is typically given to grade-schoolers. But he's talking to a roomful of NASA engineers! Okay, I get that the audience needs to have a basic understanding of what's happening, but couldn't he, or Katherine, have been shown explaining it too some kids or civilians instead? The idea that these engineers would need this dumbed-down pap completely took me out of the story.

So I'm somewhat torn about the movie. Not knowing anything about these women, I was as impressed and moved by the film as many others. The story of these women, and hundreds of others who worked with them, is incredible and has been hidden far too long. It is an important part of U.S. history that should be told.

But the film has made up so much of it from whole cloth that one has to be concerned that too many people will take every fictional detail as gospel. This is always the problem when Hollywood makes movies based on "true stories," but after reading the book I was really troubled by how little correspondence there was between the "true story" as presented there and the film.

Now, since they didn't have the finished book to work with, they have some excuse. And it makes sense, to a certain extent, to present dramatized accounts of the kind of prejudice and discrimination that all blacks experienced at that time, even successful, well-educated professionals.

Even if they had had the finished book, it is a work of history that covers much more than the primary three characters, and is not presented with the flowing narrative of a novel or screenplay. So some liberties would have been expected.

But after reading the book, I felt I had been deceived and manipulated by the film. It just went too far in overdramatizing the story, IMHO.

One final note. I am a writer and copy editor by profession. I have edited non-fiction writing from dozens of writers, and have, like most of us here, also read quite widely. Rarely have I read prose as well-written as Margot Lee Shetterly's. Barely a page or two into the introduction, I was saying to myself, 'This is an amazing writer!"

I think most of us here understand the challenges of combining clarity, style, elegance, and accuracy in our writing, and Shetterly's work has a grace and originality that is strikingly beautiful. Her expressions often verge on poetry, but always in service of the narrative, without being flashy, distracting, or self-indulgent. I frequently thought about some turn of phrase, "I've never thought of it that way, or heard anyone else put it like that."

Her research also appears to have been extremely thorough. She worked for five years on it, interviewing hundreds of people. In the Kindle edition, the epilogue ends at 66%. The remaining one-third is notes.

And this is her first book! Needless to say, I highly recommend it. The film is good. The book is excellent.
  #64  
Old 02-18-2017, 09:22 AM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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Saw this last night. A good story that needed to be told, as it was likely never taught in American schools. Solid acting, as well.

As always, I have problems with anachronisms and sloppy prop department work. Using cars that weren't made yet, and using the same vehicles in every scene was one thing, but I can get past that.

One of the first scenes in the film shows a very young Katherine doing mental math in her school class, with the teacher using a pocket calculator to check her. This would have had to have been in the 1940s, as the film takes place in 1961 when she is an adult with three children. Pocket calculators didn't exist for the public until the 1970s.

Every scene in the 1957 Chevy that shows them driving has the car shift lever clearly in 'park', while we see moving scenery through the back window.

The worst one, though, is when Al calls for Katherine to check the IBM math for the reentry data. He runs over to the West building (which is at Langley, VA), she does the calcs, and they both run back to give them to Al at Mission Control (which is in Florida). That's one hell of a run.

But despite all the prop and continuity errors, it was an entertaining effort.

Last edited by Chefguy; 02-18-2017 at 09:22 AM.
  #65  
Old 02-18-2017, 10:04 AM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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Originally Posted by Chefguy View Post

One of the first scenes in the film shows a very young Katherine doing mental math in her school class, with the teacher using a pocket calculator to check her. This would have had to have been in the 1940s, as the film takes place in 1961 when she is an adult with three children. Pocket calculators didn't exist for the public until the 1970s.
The version I saw has the opening scene taking place in 1926, with Katherine walking along counting out the numbers, noting the primes. The next scene is her naming all the shapes on the stained glass window. The only classroom scene is Katherine solving the equation on the blackboard. It then jumps to 1961.

You're not the only one to have noted the anachronistic calculator, so there must be different edits out there.
  #66  
Old 02-18-2017, 10:19 AM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Was it an electronic pocket calculator? Because mechanical pocket calculators have been around for a lot longer. Although they were probably out of the price range of a high school teacher, especially at a black school.
  #67  
Old 02-18-2017, 11:47 AM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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The version I saw has the opening scene taking place in 1926, with Katherine walking along counting out the numbers, noting the primes. The next scene is her naming all the shapes on the stained glass window. The only classroom scene is Katherine solving the equation on the blackboard. It then jumps to 1961.

You're not the only one to have noted the anachronistic calculator, so there must be different edits out there.
It wasn't the opening scene. I said it was one of the first scenes.

Sure looked like an electronic calculator; very slim. I liked that they came up with an actual functioning Monroe electro-mechanical calculator. I used one of those at a summer job in 1967. Long carriage with mechanical wheels that spun into place as the calculations were made. Weighed about as much as a Buick.

Last edited by Chefguy; 02-18-2017 at 11:49 AM.
  #68  
Old 02-18-2017, 01:03 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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The Goofs webpage in the IMDb (linked below) lists a lot of anachronisms in the movie. Most of them are the sort that you're unlikely to notice if you're not an expert. For instance, there are a lot of cases where there was a car in a scene which wasn't available until a couple of years later. If there really is a case where they showed a pocket calculator in a scene set in 1926, that's an enormous mistake. They weren't available until 50 years later. Did they really show a pocket calculator? How could they make a mistake that huge? Surely any adult knows that there weren't even enormous computers that could do calculations as fast as a pocket calculator does today. Is it possible you misunderstood what was going on in the scene? Were they doing calculations on a pad of paper or on an abacus that you couldn't see well?:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4846340/...ref_=tt_trv_gf
  #69  
Old 02-18-2017, 02:10 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
The Goofs webpage in the IMDb (linked below) lists a lot of anachronisms in the movie. Most of them are the sort that you're unlikely to notice if you're not an expert. For instance, there are a lot of cases where there was a car in a scene which wasn't available until a couple of years later. If there really is a case where they showed a pocket calculator in a scene set in 1926, that's an enormous mistake. They weren't available until 50 years later. Did they really show a pocket calculator? How could they make a mistake that huge? Surely any adult knows that there weren't even enormous computers that could do calculations as fast as a pocket calculator does today. Is it possible you misunderstood what was going on in the scene? Were they doing calculations on a pad of paper or on an abacus that you couldn't see well?:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4846340/...ref_=tt_trv_gf
The teacher was pretty clearly holding a calculator and looking astonished that the child had gotten the correct answer. I can't find any clips of that scene, so can't be 100% sure. Perhaps the visual led my modern brain to a wrong conclusion, but I don't know what else she could have been holding. Until the movie comes out for free, I'll just have to wait.

Last edited by Chefguy; 02-18-2017 at 02:11 PM.
  #70  
Old 02-18-2017, 02:26 PM
Baron Greenback Baron Greenback is offline
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The teacher was pretty clearly holding a calculator and looking astonished that the child had gotten the correct answer. I can't find any clips of that scene, so can't be 100% sure. Perhaps the visual led my modern brain to a wrong conclusion, but I don't know what else she could have been holding. Until the movie comes out for free, I'll just have to wait.
The magical internet fairies just delivered a copy of the screener sent out to Academy voters. There's no scene in the sepia-tinted young Katherine segment that matches your description. Like I said, there's probably different edits out there.
  #71  
Old 02-19-2017, 10:06 PM
Equipoise Equipoise is offline
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Did you folks have the trailer to GIFTED before your screening? It's about a little blond girl being raised by her uncle after his sister, the girl's mother, dies. In that trailer the girl is sent to public school and the teacher asks some simple math question, which the girl snarkingly answers. To put the girl in her place the teacher asks a far more difficult math question, which the girl answers correctly, and the teacher checks via a calculator.

https://youtu.be/tI01wBXGHUs

Last edited by Equipoise; 02-19-2017 at 10:09 PM.
  #72  
Old 02-20-2017, 02:54 AM
bienville bienville is offline
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Did you folks have the trailer to GIFTED before your screening?
Beaten to the punch!
I was reading the calculator discussion, and I was all ready to jump in and suggest they may have seen this trailer before the screening. To make matters more confusing, Octavia Spencer is in both movies! (Although, Spencer does not appear in the calculator scene, that role is played by Mona-Lisa Saperstein, Jean-Ralphio's sister).
  #73  
Old 02-20-2017, 01:21 PM
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I liked it after making allowances for the usual Hollywood heavy-handedness in historical films about race and gender and the equally cringe-inducing Hollywood conventions on science films. However the main characters rang true and overall in the oppressed minority/mathematics sub-genre I would rate it well above the Imitation Game and perhaps on par with the Ramanujan film.

I do wish filmmakers would handle such films with a defter touch though. For example instead of the silly bathroom sub-plot they should have gone with what actually happened:
Quote:
As for Katherine Johnson herself, Shetterly writes that when Katherine started working there, she didn't even realize that the bathrooms at Langley were segregated. This is because the bathrooms for white employees were unmarked and there weren't many colored bathrooms to be seen. It took a couple years before she was confronted with her mistake, but she simply ignored the comment and continued to use the white restrooms. No one brought it up again and she refused to enter the colored bathrooms.
  #74  
Old 04-14-2017, 09:12 AM
DesertDog DesertDog is online now
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I liked it after making allowances for the usual Hollywood heavy-handedness in historical films about race and gender and the equally cringe-inducing Hollywood conventions on science films. However the main characters rang true and overall in the oppressed minority/mathematics sub-genre I would rate it well above the Imitation Game and perhaps on par with the Ramanujan film.

I do wish filmmakers would handle such films with a defter touch though. For example instead of the silly bathroom sub-plot they should have gone with what actually happened:
That would be too subtle for Hollywood. Besides, they couldn't have that scene with Kevin Costner whacking that Colored Women's Room sign off of the wall.

A few months ago we binged on Manhattan, a highly fictionalized series about the bomb project. First episode, the main protagonist is being shown around Los Alamos by the boss so he (and the viewer) can get the lay of the land. Walking down the hall, Boss gestures towards a labeled door with the comment, "In there's where we put the computers." I said to DesertRoomie, "Back then 'computers' were people, not machines. Sure enough, a couple minutes later the door is opened to reveal eight or so (white) women.
  #75  
Old 04-14-2017, 11:03 AM
planetcory planetcory is offline
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The bathroom subplot was closer to the experiences of Janelle Monae's character. They chose to fold it into the main character's story for some reason. "Others had problems, but I seldom did," doesn't make a particularly compelling protagonist, I guess.

Last edited by planetcory; 04-14-2017 at 11:04 AM.
  #76  
Old 10-04-2017, 02:13 AM
SlackerInc SlackerInc is offline
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Yep, I read it, then realized I was too late to edit. I appreciate the link...lots of insight there. According to that link, Katherine didn't encounter any racism at work and used whatever restroom she needed to.
I just saw this, and got really mad when I discovered how much was made out of whole cloth. I'm glad that got aired out later in this thread.

As entertainment, it's a perfectly enjoyable drama. As an inspirational tale of three black women succeeding in a very unexpected role, particularly at that time in history, it is a smashing success.

The problem is the dishonesty.

This movie is not dishonest about, as I had feared, how crucial and accomplished these three women were within the space program. That part's true! And they should be far better known, taught in every school.

But apparently almost all of the incidents of racism and hostility from white coworkers were fabricated to gin up drama; within NASA, they were generally treated professionally and courteously, as peers. So to throw those coworkers under the bus is really scurrilous. Sure, I understand that a movie simply showing the three of them going to work and doing a good job with their equations and such would not be terribly exciting. You might even question whether there's really a movie there at all. But slander is not the answer.

Think of a family in which Great Grandpa (almost certainly dead now and not able to defend himself) was one of those engineers in the white shirts and skinny ties. That might have really been a point of pride. But now the world has been told that Great Grandpa was actually a bigot who created a hostile work environment for these women. (Maybe Great Grandma as well, given the Kirsten Dunst character.)

I've been disappointed many times before with the historical inaccuracy of a film. This one is especially painful because the positive story it tells is true and incredibly moving (I got really teary at the end, when the real women were shown and their later accomplishments described). But I can't in good conscience recommend such a slanderous film: it would be like giving a B or a C to a partially plagiarized paper, with the rationale that some of it was high quality original work. Nope, it's all irredeemably tainted by the purposeful dishonesty.
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Old 10-04-2017, 04:26 AM
iiandyiiii iiandyiiii is offline
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I just saw this, and got really mad when I discovered how much was made out of whole cloth. I'm glad that got aired out later in this thread.

As entertainment, it's a perfectly enjoyable drama. As an inspirational tale of three black women succeeding in a very unexpected role, particularly at that time in history, it is a smashing success.

The problem is the dishonesty.

This movie is not dishonest about, as I had feared, how crucial and accomplished these three women were within the space program. That part's true! And they should be far better known, taught in every school.

But apparently almost all of the incidents of racism and hostility from white coworkers were fabricated to gin up drama; within NASA, they were generally treated professionally and courteously, as peers. So to throw those coworkers under the bus is really scurrilous. Sure, I understand that a movie simply showing the three of them going to work and doing a good job with their equations and such would not be terribly exciting. You might even question whether there's really a movie there at all. But slander is not the answer.

Think of a family in which Great Grandpa (almost certainly dead now and not able to defend himself) was one of those engineers in the white shirts and skinny ties. That might have really been a point of pride. But now the world has been told that Great Grandpa was actually a bigot who created a hostile work environment for these women. (Maybe Great Grandma as well, given the Kirsten Dunst character.)

I've been disappointed many times before with the historical inaccuracy of a film. This one is especially painful because the positive story it tells is true and incredibly moving (I got really teary at the end, when the real women were shown and their later accomplishments described). But I can't in good conscience recommend such a slanderous film: it would be like giving a B or a C to a partially plagiarized paper, with the rationale that some of it was high quality original work. Nope, it's all irredeemably tainted by the purposeful dishonesty.
From my reading, everything actually happened to one or more of the characters, they just transposed some of it from one to the other or from earlier to later. That's not nearly so bad as what you describe, and doesn't affect my appreciation for the movie.
  #78  
Old 10-04-2017, 06:53 AM
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I'm absolutely fine with seeing Katherine Johnson get a Medal of Freedom and a movie. Bottom line, though, is that she was just one of hundreds, maybe THOUSANDS of people doing vital but unglamorous work for NASA. There were countless nerds working out problems on slide rules and brainstorming. Most of them were as valuable in one way or another as Katherine Johnson, but we will never see a movie about them. We will never know their life stories. They'll never get any medals.

No single one of them was crucial or irreplaceable. Neither was Katherine Johnson. All were doing important work, but I'd be astonished if John Glenn knew the names of more than a few of them.

Last edited by astorian; 10-04-2017 at 06:54 AM.
  #79  
Old 10-04-2017, 07:04 AM
iiandyiiii iiandyiiii is offline
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From my reading, everything actually happened to one or more of the characters, they just transposed some of it from one to the other or from earlier to later. That's not nearly so bad as what you describe, and doesn't affect my appreciation for the movie.
I'll clarify this -- I read that one of the ladies did indeed have problems with finding a colored ladies' room at some point, including having to walk across the campus to find one, and this was later fixed, but there probably was no dramatic moment with the director taking an axe to the segregated bathroom signs.

For a movie, though, that seems like a pretty mundane sort of Hollywood conceit. Ramp up and compress the drama on real-life truths -- that of the black mathematicians being unable to easily find nearby bathroom facilities at NASA.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 10-04-2017 at 07:06 AM.
  #80  
Old 10-04-2017, 07:52 AM
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I’m talking about hostility from white colleagues, like the Jim Parsons or Kirsten Dunst characters.
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  #81  
Old 10-04-2017, 08:36 AM
planetcory planetcory is offline
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Originally Posted by SlackerInc View Post
I’m talking about hostility from white colleagues, like the Jim Parsons or Kirsten Dunst characters.
From what I recall, most of their coworkers gave them no actual grief in the movie. They were just kinda there. Background drones. Parsons and Dunst served as the Unsubtle Faces of Racism, but were fictional characters that don't besmirch any actual people. (Dunst's character wasn't that far-fetched to me, really.)

I'd prefer seeing a story much closer to actual events too, but the less dramatic, more subtle systemic racism they likely faced doesn't make for a widely interesting movie.

Last edited by planetcory; 10-04-2017 at 08:39 AM.
  #82  
Old 10-04-2017, 04:32 PM
SlackerInc SlackerInc is offline
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Originally Posted by planetcory View Post
From what I recall, most of their coworkers gave them no actual grief in the movie. They were just kinda there. Background drones. Parsons and Dunst served as the Unsubtle Faces of Racism, but were fictional characters that don't besmirch any actual people. (Dunst's character wasn't that far-fetched to me, really.)

I'd prefer seeing a story much closer to actual events too, but the less dramatic, more subtle systemic racism they likely faced doesn't make for a widely interesting movie.
I'm not saying Dunst's character, or any of the characters, were "far-fetched". What I'm saying is that according to the actual statements of these women, the actual engineers at NASA were surprisingly enlightened. Their reward for being enlightened is to be slandered because that wouldn't make an interesting movie! You don't see how unfair that is?

"Most of their coworkers" did not even have lines in the movie. So, yes: they were "just kinda there". But in the big showstopping rant by Taraji P. Henson, intended for her Oscar reel, as she builds to her peak, she shouts "I work like a dog, day and night!" Then, circling to face ALL the engineers in the room, she continues, at full volume, "Living off coffee none of you want to touch!" Cut to a shot of various "background drones" looking down guiltily. That right there, that ten seconds of the movie (a very important ten seconds--no one can deny with a straight face that it's intended as an Oscar reel) is vicious slander. Anyone whose relative was one of the white male engineers in that room has just had the family name besmirched, when in fact if anything they deserve credit for being unusually enlightened for the time!

More broadly, we should be glad to learn that something about working in that field seems to have led white men to be ahead of their time in terms of attitudes (the recent election proving it to be even more ahead than I would have previously thought). Science-y geeks should be able to feel good about that. But no, that would be too boring.
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  #83  
Old 10-04-2017, 06:02 PM
iiandyiiii iiandyiiii is offline
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Originally Posted by SlackerInc View Post
I'm not saying Dunst's character, or any of the characters, were "far-fetched". What I'm saying is that according to the actual statements of these women, the actual engineers at NASA were surprisingly enlightened. Their reward for being enlightened is to be slandered because that wouldn't make an interesting movie! You don't see how unfair that is?

"Most of their coworkers" did not even have lines in the movie. So, yes: they were "just kinda there". But in the big showstopping rant by Taraji P. Henson, intended for her Oscar reel, as she builds to her peak, she shouts "I work like a dog, day and night!" Then, circling to face ALL the engineers in the room, she continues, at full volume, "Living off coffee none of you want to touch!" Cut to a shot of various "background drones" looking down guiltily. That right there, that ten seconds of the movie (a very important ten seconds--no one can deny with a straight face that it's intended as an Oscar reel) is vicious slander. Anyone whose relative was one of the white male engineers in that room has just had the family name besmirched, when in fact if anything they deserve credit for being unusually enlightened for the time!

More broadly, we should be glad to learn that something about working in that field seems to have led white men to be ahead of their time in terms of attitudes (the recent election proving it to be even more ahead than I would have previously thought). Science-y geeks should be able to feel good about that. But no, that would be too boring.
I'm fine with this kind of artistic license in service to a broader truth - that black women were generally treated like dog shit in the workplace at that time. And in my understanding even those anecdotes were at least partially from the women involved, even if it was earlier in their careers than the movie takes place.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 10-04-2017 at 06:02 PM.
  #84  
Old 10-04-2017, 06:11 PM
SlackerInc SlackerInc is offline
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So you're fine with slandering a specific group of people for a "broader truth"? I wonder if you'd feel that way if you were involved in the space program, or some other idealistic endeavor that produced a huge, historic achievement--and were proud that you and your colleagues were notably not part of that lamentable "broader truth".

This same complaint, BTW, goes for the movie Selma, which also portrayed nearly all whites in the movie as villains, most notably slandering Lyndon Johnson, IMO one of our greatest presidents. But at least in slandering a major historical figure, there are those who have come forward (as in that link) to object. These relatively anonymous engineers don't have that luxury.
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  #85  
Old 10-04-2017, 08:17 PM
DrFidelius DrFidelius is online now
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Because who is going to speak for the white men? Will no one ever portray them as decent people?
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  #86  
Old 10-04-2017, 08:25 PM
iiandyiiii iiandyiiii is offline
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Originally Posted by SlackerInc View Post
So you're fine with slandering a specific group of people for a "broader truth"? I wonder if you'd feel that way if you were involved in the space program, or some other idealistic endeavor that produced a huge, historic achievement--and were proud that you and your colleagues were notably not part of that lamentable "broader truth".

This same complaint, BTW, goes for the movie Selma, which also portrayed nearly all whites in the movie as villains, most notably slandering Lyndon Johnson, IMO one of our greatest presidents. But at least in slandering a major historical figure, there are those who have come forward (as in that link) to object. These relatively anonymous engineers don't have that luxury.
There was no "slandering a specific group of people". Maybe it slandered two people (Parsons and Dunst's characters), but they were fictional. And even they were portrayed as no worse than average white Americans of the time. Portraying someone as an average white American isn't slander.
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Old 10-04-2017, 08:55 PM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is offline
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I watched it yesterday. It was good, but not THE.GREATEST.MOVIE.EVER like some people seemed to think it was.
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Old 10-05-2017, 01:27 AM
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Because who is going to speak for the white men? Will no one ever portray them as decent people?
I knew some variant of this would be coming. In fact, many white men are decent people, and many were back then. In fact, there are probably more white men in America who are decent people than there are black women who are decent people (please note that I'm talking about raw numbers here, not percentages). And they--we--don't deserve to be treated as though we're all the same. Why would you not want to give credit where it's due? Do you want to incentivize white guys to be chauvinist bigots, because they'll be depicted as such regardless?

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Originally Posted by iiandyiiii View Post
There was no "slandering a specific group of people". Maybe it slandered two people (Parsons and Dunst's characters), but they were fictional.
It's almost like you didn't read my comments about the big showstopping scene about the coffee, just upthread. That makes it awkward for anyone to mention, when the movie comes up in conversation, "oh yeah: my grandfather worked with Katherine Johnson at NASA". Anyone hearing that will assume said grandfather was a bigot who wouldn't touch any coffee she had touched, even though this is pure fiction.
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  #89  
Old 10-05-2017, 04:43 AM
iiandyiiii iiandyiiii is offline
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Originally Posted by SlackerInc View Post
It's almost like you didn't read my comments about the big showstopping scene about the coffee, just upthread. That makes it awkward for anyone to mention, when the movie comes up in conversation, "oh yeah: my grandfather worked with Katherine Johnson at NASA". Anyone hearing that will assume said grandfather was a bigot who wouldn't touch any coffee she had touched, even though this is pure fiction.
I don't think this follows at all. That was pretty damn standard bigotry for white Americans at the time.

And even at that particular Langley campus, if a decade earlier:

http://www.historyvshollywood.com/re...idden-figures/

That campus was indeed segregated in the 40s, when black women started working there. Even with the bathrooms, Johnson had to use white segregated bathrooms and was challenged on it, but ignored it. That exact coffee incident may not have happened to Johnson, but so what? It's a movie. They make scenes for drama, and in this case to represent the challenges due to racism that black women face. That's really hard to represent in 2 hours without specific incidents like that.

Katherine Johnson saw the movie and said she really liked it. That's good enough for me in terms of accuracy.
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Old 10-05-2017, 05:11 AM
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But these were not standard Americans! From an article in Smithsonian magazine:

Quote:
Langley was not just a laboratory of science and engineering; “in many ways, it was a racial relations laboratory, a gender relations laboratory,” Shetterly says. The researchers came from across America. Many came from parts of the country sympathetic to the nascent Civil Rights Movement, says Shetterly, and backed the progressive ideals of expanded freedoms for black citizens and women.
“Shetterly" is the author of the book Hidden Figures which the movie is based on. What a deal, you live your life as a progressive idealist, and then millions of people remember you as a “standard American” bigot from an unenlightened era. But since you happened to be born white and male, who gives a shit, right?

And there’s a whole separate issue aside from the slander: I consider it really appalling, and depressing, to teach the public about important historical figures in ways that are grossly inaccurate. Even if the inaccuracies are completely benign, as they are not in this case.
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  #91  
Old 10-05-2017, 05:21 AM
iiandyiiii iiandyiiii is offline
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Originally Posted by SlackerInc View Post
But these were not standard Americans! From an article in Smithsonian magazine:



“Shetterly" is the author of the book Hidden Figures which the movie is based on. What a deal, you live your life as a progressive idealist, and then millions of people remember you as a “standard American” bigot from an unenlightened era. But since you happened to be born white and male, who gives a shit, right?

And there’s a whole separate issue aside from the slander: I consider it really appalling, and depressing, to teach the public about important historical figures in ways that are grossly inaccurate. Even if the inaccuracies are completely benign, as they are not in this case.
It showed Langley in a pretty positive light overall. They got rid of the bigoted policies, very dramatically.

The movie had two major characters that acted in a bigoted way. One of them evolved, IIRC. That leaves one bigot. That doesn't slander Langley or everyone who worked there. Neither does the coffee scene -- it demonstrates the challenges black women faced at Langley (if a decade before) and in American workplaces in general at the time.
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Old 10-05-2017, 06:44 AM
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You can obviously keep making these assertions all day long. I think I have demonstrated clearly how specious they are, so I will just refer back to what I have already posted and leave it at that.
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Old 10-05-2017, 07:24 AM
iiandyiiii iiandyiiii is offline
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You can obviously keep making these assertions all day long. I think I have demonstrated clearly how specious they are, so I will just refer back to what I have already posted and leave it at that.
Okay, likewise.
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Old 10-05-2017, 08:54 AM
DrFidelius DrFidelius is online now
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People who get all their historical knowledge from movies are lost already. Personally, I believe it is more important to show what systemic racism looked like back when it was the norm than to avoid appearing to slander anonymous background characters. That was the point of the film after all; I am sorry the film makers did not meet your desire for a "not all white men working at NASA then" disclaimer.
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  #95  
Old 10-05-2017, 01:08 PM
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I've read the book and from what I can tell, a lot of the racism was a holdover. There were laws being passed in Congress in the late 40s that were getting rid of segregation. When one of the women went to her grand boss with a chart showing how she and a white engineer were at the same level but he made more money, Grand Boss was floored. I think for a lot of them, it wasn't something that occurred to them and in this case, he took steps to rectify it.

For me, the most horrifying thing was Prince Edward County's absolute refusal to desegregate, which resulted in the entire school district being shut down FOR FIVE YEARS. Both white and black children lost five years of education and they were called the Lost Generation.

Fascinating story. I enjoyed both the book and the movie.
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Old 10-05-2017, 05:31 PM
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For me, the most horrifying thing was Prince Edward County's absolute refusal to desegregate, which resulted in the entire school district being shut down FOR FIVE YEARS. Both white and black children lost five years of education and they were called the Lost Generation.
Oof, how awful. I hadn't heard about this, and it really ought to be more well known, as it really served an important role to reify "Brown", which could have become another toothless theoretical right that was gutted by yet more Jim Crow workaround sneakiness.

It reminds me of what happened with public swimming pools in many places not long after that. So many communities had nice, taxpayer-funded swimming pools; but then when integration was mandated, many got closed down and there was a boom in backyard pools and country club memberships.

And even to this day, there is a tendency in these areas to have lots of white kids in private schools, and then white voters have little incentive to support robust funding for the public schools. I sure wish the whole education system could be federalized, but the ridiculous resistance to Common Core shows how far away that dream is.

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People who get all their historical knowledge from movies are lost already.
You going to tell me you knew all about these women before this movie came out? Pfffft. And this, like Selma, will be shown in classrooms across the country. Which would be great, if it were accurate!

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Originally Posted by DrFidelius View Post
Personally, I believe it is more important to show what systemic racism looked like back when it was the norm than to avoid appearing to slander anonymous background characters.
They are not really anonymous, because they are everyone associated with a specific aspect of a historic effort.

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Originally Posted by DrFidelius View Post
Personally, I believe it is more important to show what systemic racism looked like back when it was the norm than to avoid appearing to slander anonymous background characters. That was the point of the film after all;
That was the point of the film, to slander these characters? Funny, I thought the point was to celebrate these trailblazing women who had previously been little-known.

As for what you believe was "more important", I find it chillingly Orwellian. Does this apply to what's important in conveying present-day events too? If a video comes out that appears to show white cops killing an unarmed man, but subsequently another angle is found where the man is brandishing a gun at the cops, is it "more important" for a progressive newsroom to squash the video, or alter it to CGI out the gun? This kind of thing is not only wrong on its own merits, but it is counterproductive as it leads "alt-right" types to be able to argue that when the media or Hollywood portray systemic racism, it's propaganda lies. And you are basically just offering them evidence to prove that! How can people believe true depictions of social problems if the same sources are offering provably false ones?

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Originally Posted by DrFidelius View Post
I am sorry the film makers did not meet your desire for a "not all white men working at NASA then" disclaimer.
So far as I can see, it's "not any of the white men working at NASA then". Or close enough to that, that the exceptions dared not speak up. Which is the kind of office culture we should be celebrating.

BTW, this turns out to be more like Selma than I realized. The reason NASA was integrated from its inception was that LBJ (then a powerful Senate leader) insisted it be so. This man repeatedly insists on advancing civil rights for blacks faster than most in the country are comfortable with, and his reward in terms of legacy is to have all of it washed away because it wasn't the average for the time and gets in the way of a good story that needs villains. Sickening.

I would add that all ethics and morality aside, even if this had been a completely fictional story: the hamhanded, cliched way this was portrayed was not good art--not subtle or nuanced in any way.
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Old 10-05-2017, 07:10 PM
iiandyiiii iiandyiiii is offline
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BTW, this turns out to be more like Selma than I realized. The reason NASA was integrated from its inception was that LBJ (then a powerful Senate leader) insisted it be so. This man repeatedly insists on advancing civil rights for blacks faster than most in the country are comfortable with, and his reward in terms of legacy is to have all of it washed away because it wasn't the average for the time and gets in the way of a good story that needs villains. Sickening.

I would add that all ethics and morality aside, even if this had been a completely fictional story: the hamhanded, cliched way this was portrayed was not good art--not subtle or nuanced in any way.
LBJ wasn't even close to the villain in Selma. He was portrayed as a politician with political concerns who ultimately did the right thing. That's hardly "sickening" or a slander.
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Old 10-05-2017, 08:17 PM
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Tell that to Johnson’s top domestic policy advisor:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opini...=.8c19742d3b8b

Quote:
What’s wrong with Hollywood?
The makers of the new movie “Selma” apparently just couldn’t resist taking dramatic, trumped-up license with a true story that didn’t need any embellishment to work as a big-screen historical drama. As a result, the film falsely portrays President Lyndon B. Johnson as being at odds with Martin Luther King Jr. and even using the FBI to discredit him, as only reluctantly behind the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and as opposed to the Selma march itself.
In fact, Selma was LBJ’s idea, he considered the Voting Rights Act his greatest legislative achievement, he viewed King as an essential partner in getting it enacted — and he didn’t use the FBI to disparage him.[...]
For the truth about Johnson, the Voting Rights Act and Selma, listen to the tape of the LBJ-MLK telephone conversation and read my numerous reports to the White House, which have been on the LBJ Presidential Library Web site for years.
All this material was publicly available to the producers, the writer of the screenplay and the director of this film. Why didn’t they use it? Did they feel no obligation to check the facts? Did they consider themselves free to fill the screen with falsehoods, immune from any responsibility to the dead, just because they thought it made for a better story?
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  #99  
Old 10-05-2017, 11:14 PM
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By the way, the film recently had its theatrical release here in Japan. Since "Hidden Figures" wouldn't really make sense in Japanese, 20th Century Fox announced a new title via SNS "ドリーム 私たちのアポロ計画" which translates to "Dream: Our Apollo Project". Quite a few who read the book or about the movie pointed out that the film focuses more on the Mercury project than Apollo. Fox reasoned that most Japanese probably aren't as familiar with the Mercury project as they are with Apollo, so they used that name to draw more interest. After some minor backlash, the distributor changed the name to just "Dream".

Last edited by JpnDude; 10-05-2017 at 11:15 PM.
  #100  
Old 10-05-2017, 11:42 PM
iiandyiiii iiandyiiii is offline
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Originally Posted by SlackerInc View Post
Tell that to Johnson’s top domestic policy advisor:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opini...=.8c19742d3b8b
Old white guy is wrong. Dog bites man.
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