Movie Review: “Hidden Figures”
Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali
In the wake of famed astronaut John Glenn’s recent death, it seems appropriate that some of the unsung heroes of the Friendship 7 mission (and the NASA space program in general) have finally been given their due in director Theodore Melfi’s new movie, “Hidden Figures.” An incredibly timely and well-told story that serves as a nice counterpart to 1983’s “The Right Stuff,” the film shines a light on the African-American women who helped put Glenn into space during a time when neither African-Americans nor women were given those kinds of opportunities. Though it risks falling into the same traps as other feel-good dramas (after all, it’s basically an underdog sports film for the STEM crowd), “Hidden Figures” rises above its formulaic plot thanks to some terrific performances from the cast.
In the early 1960s, the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a race to see who could get a man into space first, and with the U.S. desperately lagging behind its Cold War rivals, NASA needed all the brainpower it could get. What most people don’t know is that many of these employees were women (several of them African-American) who worked at the Langley Research Center in Virginia as human computers performing the complex calculations on the agency’s various projects. But because they were black, these brilliant mathematicians were tucked away in a room on the segregated west campus and largely ignored.
That all changes when math whiz Katherine Gobel (Taraji P. Henson) is promoted to the all-white east campus to work under NASA official Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) on the Atlas rocket launch. Though she’s treated like a second-class citizen by her co-workers (not only does she have to run half a mile across campus just to use the colored bathroom, but she can’t even share the same pot of coffee), Katherine quickly proves herself instrumental to the program’s success. Meanwhile, fellow colleagues Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), a headstrong supervisor who takes it upon herself to learn how to operate the IBM computers that will eventually replace her, and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), an aspiring engineer who’s stymied by a law that prevents her from attending the classes required to advance in the field, make strides of their own through hard work and determination.
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Movie Review: “Draft Day”
Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner, Dennis Leary, Frank Langella, Chadwick Boseman, Josh Pence, Tom Welling
You can tell the kind of movie “Draft Day” is going to be by the company it keeps. The NFL and ESPN are on board, which means they approve of the story line, which means said story is safe as kittens. And holy cow, is this movie safe. That it manages to still be entertaining is to its great credit, and nearly all of that is because of Kevin Costner. Imagining this movie with anyone besides him in the lead role is unthinkable.
Sonny Weaver Jr. (Costner) is the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, and he’s feeling the heat. It’s the first day of the NFL draft – and only a few months after his father, and legendary Browns head coach, passed away – and Sonny is picking seventh. He’s fine with picking seventh, but the team’s owner, Anthony Molina (Frank Langella), is not. He wants Sonny to make a headline-worthy move, making it clear that it will cost him his job if he doesn’t. Sonny lets that pressure get the best of him by agreeing to trade a king’s ransom to Seattle for the first pick in the draft, much to the dismay of new coach, and Super Bowl winner (just ask him), Penn (Denis Leary). Having the first pick puts Sonny in position to take can’t-miss Wisconsin quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Bo Callahan (Josh Pence), but as the day progresses, Sonny learns things about Callahan that cause him to question Callahan’s character. Is there a way to take the decision he made to mortgage the team’s future and spin it into something he can be proud of?
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Movie Review: “3 Days to Kill”
Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld, Amber Heard, Connie Nielsen
It’s not often – on the big screen, anyway – that director McG traffics in human emotion. His films are mostly about the slam and the bang, so his attachment to a movie like “3 Days to Kill” is a bit surprising at first. This is not to say that the movie doesn’t have some slam-bang moments (it does), but that it operates at a different speed than McG’s other work. The father-daughter relationship comes first, though murder isn’t far behind. The story, by Luc Besson (“The Professional”), bites off more than it can chew, and it requires “Taken” levels of disbelief to excuse carnage that our government would surely have to answer for on a public stage, but the acting performances elevate the material from ‘predictable’ to ‘predictable but fun.’
Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) is a seasoned field agent for the CIA. During an operation where he and his team are assigned to dispose of an arms dealer known as The Albino (Tómas Lemarquis), Ethan passes out after chasing down their target, wakes up in a hospital and is told he is gravely ill and has three months to live. Ethan plans on making the most of his time by reconciling with his estranged wife Tina (Connie Nielsen) and their daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld). No sooner does he promise Tina that he’s finished with the CIA than he receives a visit from fellow CIA operative Vivi Delay (Amber Heard), who was tasked with taking down the Albino’s financier The Wolf (Richard Sammel) at the same time that Ethan was supposed to take out the Albino. Vivi has access to an experimental drug that may keep Ethan alive, and she will share it with him if he agrees to help her finish the job, as Ethan is the only one who knows what the Wolf looks like. Ethan reluctantly accepts, and it is not long before the unpredictable nature of being a hired killer makes life complicated for a man who already has a reputation with his angry teenaged daughter of never being there for her. Oh, and a family of squatters has taken over his Paris apartment while he was away, and it is against the law if he kicks them out.
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Bullz-Eye tackles Tough Mudder Lake Tahoe Degree DO:MORE Style!
There is no feeling on earth like sliding into the $125 robe in your room at the Ritz Carlton after spending six hours on the most difficult obstacle course in the world. Wait a minute, did someone say “Carlton”? I thought they did.
This robe is the kind of robe Carlton would’ve rocked when he was on “Silver Spoons” with Ricky Schroeder. God, how I yearned to ride on that sweet in-house train, even just to go get the mail. Imagine me and the robe and the train. We’d run a train on the train; me, Carlton, the robe, Ricky… good times.
Sure, I thought about stealing the robe. Who wouldn’t? But the minute I stepped foot off the premises, the magic would’ve been gone, like when a young Moonlight Graham steps over the foul line in “Field of Dreams” to be irrevocable transformed into Doc, the kindly doctor who removes a piece of hot dog from Kevin Costner’s daughter’s airway to save her life.
Anyway, I left the robe, and about a pound of ball skin, on the mountain that day, and lived to tell the tale.
Keeping it REAL klassy on the mountain…
But you know what I didn’t leave on the mountain that day, friends? Sweat, or a stench of any kind. That’s because Degree had my back, not unlike the way Chuck Norris had Jonathan Brandis’ back in the movie “Sidekicks.”
Degree allows you to DO: MORE with three levels of protection.
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Posted in: Grooming, Humor, Lifestyle, Sports, Stuff to Buy
Tags: Arctic Enema, Berlin Walls, Breaking Bad, Breaking Bad The Cousins, Cage Crawl, Carlton Banks, Chuck Norris, Corey Feldman, Degree, Degree Clinical Series, Degree DO:MORE, Degree Men Adrenaline Series, Degree Men Dry Protection, Electric Eel, Field of Dreams, Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, Jonathan Brandis, Kevin Costner, Liss Of Mud, Meatballs 4, Men's Deodorant, men's grooming, Moonligh Graham, Northstar Mountain, Rambo III, Ricky Schroeder, Ritz Carlton, Sidekicks Chuck Norris, Silver Spoons, Sylvester Stallone, Tough Mudder, Tough Mudder Lake Tahoe 2013, Train From Silver Spoons
Book Review: Life is What You Make It by Peter Buffett
Whether or not you’ve had that “a-ha” moment in your life in which you’ve found your true passion and can engage that passion without it feeling like work (most of the time), you need to read Peter Buffett’s new book, Life Is What You Make It. Buffett, of course, is the son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, but lucky for the son, his dad as well as his mom let Peter follow his own path to success–one involving music and, eventually, philanthropy.
What Buffett does in this book is not to just tell his own story, but to give tips along the way about how you can forge your own path. He talks about ultimately finding a passion to stoke your own internal fires rather than to just earn a paycheck and aid in fulfilling someone else’s dream. Throughout the book, you’ll be nodding that in fact he’s right–that you were or are in scenarios he is describing, or that he’s describing the lives of people you know and love.
Most of all, this is one of those books that is truly inspirational. I know the effect it had on me is this–that all of my back burner projects need to be seen through rather than revolving on various back burners. Because having a job or business you love is only part of what makes us whole, not the only thing that defines us.
Of course, when Buffett does talk about the various paths he’s taken, it’s a fascinating read, though he’s probably too humble to actually agree with that. He talks matter-of-factly about his success with early MTV bumpers and with music for Kevin Costner’s “Dances With Wolves” blockbuster. But Peter and his wife have found the most fulfillment in starting the NoVo Foundation for helping to empower young women to find paths to success themselves.
What’s unique and remarkable about Life is What You Make It is not the content itself. It’s the point of view, as well as the lessons it teaches–namely, that money isn’t the be-all, end-all. Happiness found through following passions and giving back are what really matter most, and Peter Buffett is living proof of just that.
Peter Buffett website
Posted in: Books, Music, Stuff to Buy
Tags: Dances with Wolves, finding passion, great books, inspirational books, Kevin Costner, Life is What you Make It, MTV, NoVo Foundation, Peter Buffett, Peter Buffett Book, Warren Buffett