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.
Director: Bill Condon
Starring: Emma Watson, Luke Evans, Stanley Tucci, Ian McKellen. USA 2017. 129 mins.
Back in 1991, the Walt Disney Company released Beauty And The Beast, an exquisitely drawn feature animation that became a gargantuan hit, delighting both audiences and critics and spinning off a blockbuster Broadway musical. So who better to breathe new life into the beloved French fairy tale – with its very modern message of not judging people by their appearance – in a live-action telling than the studio that made it a movie classic in the first place? Veteran director Bill Condon (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Parts 1 & 2, Dreamgirls, Mr Holmes) has refashioned the characters for a contemporary audience but stayed true to the animation’s music, with several new songs and an amended score by the original composer, Alan Menken. Get ready to be wowed all over again.