Denzel Washington and Viola Davis both won Tony Awards for their performances in the stage version of August Wilson’s passionately acted drama.
This film adaptation is Washington’s third feature outing as director, and his deep understanding of the issues at the heart of a still racially divided America underpins a story which is primarily about difficult family relationships.
Canny, hard-nosed blue-collar worker Troy (Washington) and stoical Rose (Davis) are the parents of three variously troubled boys in 1950s Pittsburgh. The tone is set early on when teenager Cory (Jovan Adepo) asks his dad, “How come you never liked me?” and Troy replies, “What law is there saying I got to like you?” There’s much wit and affection in all the characters, but ultimately it’s a film about secrets and buried emotions.
Director: Theodore Melfi.
Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe. USA 2016. 127 mins.
Without three gifted mathematicians, America might not have put its first man into space in 1961. That they were also female and black in a country where racial segregation still had a sour normalcy only adds piquancy to the story.
Theodore Melfi’s biopic Hidden Figures tells the uplifting tale of how these women helped make history. Played with great, often wry gusto by Taraji P. Henson (The Karate Kid), Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station) and pop star Janelle Monáe, the trio are plucked from numeric drudgery by a NASA systems boss (Kevin Costner) to help meet a timetable accelerated by presidential decree. As if things weren’t already challenging enough, the women also face the routine prejudice of their work colleagues.
Hidden Figures deftly avoids clichéd melodrama to celebrate amazing achievements in a society in the throes of change.
Hugh Jackman claws his way back onto the big screen in his third – and potentially final – Wolverine adventure. In the not-too-distant future, the ageing Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is eking out a meagre existence in the Mexico desert whilst caring for the elderly Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). However he then comes across mysterious young girl Laura Kinney/X-23 (Dafnee Keen), who possesses astonishing and dangerous powers. But Logan and Xavier must protect the child from the deadly Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), leader of the marauding cyborgs known as the Reavers. Inspired by the enormously popular ‘Old Man Logan’ serial by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven, this gripping new Wolverine movie sees Hugh Jackman imbue his signature character with notes of melancholy and more than a few grey hairs. Meanwhile returning director James Mangold (The Wolverine) promises to amp up the violent action to unprecedented levels.