Posts Tagged ‘Kirsten Dunst’

‘Hidden Figures’ combines science, melodrama and social justice in a charming and lively movie

January 23, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 23, 2017

Theodore Melfi’s Hidden Figures is a touching historical drama about trail-blazing NASA mathematicians who fought racial and gender stereotypes at the dawn of the space age as the nation was still reluctantly moving to endorse the promise of the civil rights movement.

The movie, based on the 2016 history book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, focuses on three women who worked at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., as computers — laborers who performed a wide variety of mathematical calculations at a time when the most powerful computers filled rooms and accepted input from punch cards. They are gifted mathematician Katherine Goble (Taraji P. Henson), pioneering computer programmer Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer, who played a concerned mother in Snowpiercer) and ground-breaking engineer Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe).

Goble, a widowed mother of three, has the best-developed story. Her facility with abstruse, high-level mathematics wins her assignment to the Space Task Group. This group of about two dozen eggheads led by Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) is charged with developing the math that will help American rocket ships and their astronauts safely journey where no man has gone before.

Goble, one of only two women in the group, and the lone non-white person in the room, struggles to win the respect of peers like Paul Stafford (Jim Parsons, best known as Sheldon from TV’s The Big Bang Theory), who initially take her to be a secretary, janitor or worse. She also has a budding romance with Col. Jim Johnson (Mahershala Ali), despite the two of them getting off on the wrong foot.

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The overstuffed, dreadful ‘Spider-Man 3’ botched everything but the action

February 24, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Feb. 24, 2016

Nearly two years ago, I came across a three-for-one DVD containing the trilogy of Spider-Man films directed by Sam Raimi in the first decade of the 21st century. After writing about the first film, from 2002, and starting and tagging but not otherwise working on a post about the second film, released in 2004, I didn’t start watching 2007’s Spider-Man 3 until one night in early February.

I didn’t finish watching it until a few days ago.

Raimi’s first Spider-Man was a decent enough flick, but hardly great. His follow-up is, in my opinion, one of the greatest superhero movies (although bear in mind that I’ve only seen one X-Men movie, and none of the Avengers films). The third Spider-Man movie, however, is widely regarded as a mess, despite the fact that it was the top-grossing domestic movie of the year, with a haul of more than $336 million.

(Incidentally, the second- through 12th-highest-grossing features of 2007, in descending order, were Shrek the ThirdTransformersPirates of the Caribbean: At World’s EndHarry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixI Am LegendThe Bourne UltimatumNational Treasure: Book of SecretsAlvin and the Chipmunks300Ratatouille and The Simpsons Movie.)

I had long suspected that Spider-Man 3’s bad reputation was overblown. But my friends, I am compelled to report that this movie is indeed quite dire.

The main problem here is that the film doesn’t have quite enough material for two movies, but it has more than enough for a single feature. (Bear in mind that Spider-Man 3 weighed in at two hours and 19 minutes when it was released; the director’s cut has another 17 minutes of material.) At least one of the screenwriters recognized this problem, but the movie makers ended up sticking with one feature because they couldn’t find a worthwhile cliffhanger to lead into a further sequel.

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July 22, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 18, 2014

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With a great character comes…alas, just a decent superhero movie: Revisiting 2002’s ‘Spider-Man’

July 14, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 14, 2014

In 2002, Columbia Pictures released a movie titled, simply, Spider-Man. It was a pretty fun outing starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst as, respectively, the eponymous hero ( Peter Parker) and his longtime next-door neighbor and not-so-secret crush, Mary Jane Watson.

What few people could have foreseen was that Spider-Man would unleash a cinematic infestation of, well, Spider-Man movies. The wall-crawler’s first big-budget cinematic outing was followed in 2004 by Spider-Man 2 and in 2007 by Spider-Man 3, all of which starred Maguire and Dunst and were directed by Sam Raimi.

The first two movies in the series, especially the 2004 release, received a decent critical reception. The third feature, which I’ve never seen, is widely considered to be a sprawling mess.

Still, it was a bit of a surprise when, in 2012 — not a decade after the debut of the first Spider-Man — Columbia released a reboot of the series. The Amazing Spider-Man starred Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, and it was fun, even though there hadn’t seem to be an urgent need for it. Earlier this year, we got The Amazing Spider-Man 2which was also enjoyable, if a bit overstuffed. Both films evidently did well at the box office, and I gather that another sequel is on its way.

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Cleverly and clumsily, love cycles in and out of focus in ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’

December 18, 2012

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind begins on a drab winter morning in 2004. It so happens to be Valentine’s Day. Impulsively, Joel Barish leaves the New York City-bound platform and jumps onto an outward-bound train at the very last moment. After calling in sick, he disconsolately wanders the beach at Montauk, on the eastern end of Long Island.

He sits down, opens his journal and dispassionately notes that it appears to have been two years since he made an entry. Barish’s life appears to be as cold, empty and colorless as his surroundings.

However, a young woman with blue hair and an orange jacket wanders the beach as Barris does, eats in a diner as he does, waits on Montauk’s westbound train platform as he does. She waves; he ducks away. On the train, they sit in the same car. Barish sketches her; she tries to engage him in conversation, moving closer and closer to him.

She is Clementine Kruczynski, and she is drawn to Barish in ways that she doesn’t appear to understand. He certainly doesn’t understand the attraction either.  Read the rest of this entry »

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