Movies

Movie review: "First Man"

Space history's Neil Armstrong slips the surly bonds

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 10/12/18

I've always admired the aw-shucks courage displayed by astronauts. The idea that there are men and women, who possess the amazing combination of superior intellect, raw nerve, peerless skill, grace under fire, and focused humility ...

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Movies

Movie review: "First Man"

Space history's Neil Armstrong slips the surly bonds

Posted

I've always admired the aw-shucks courage displayed by astronauts. The idea that there are men and women, who possess the amazing combination of superior intellect, raw nerve, peerless skill, grace under fire and focused humility, is not only astounding, but these rare individuals actually go to work each day knowing their lives can be snuffed out in a fiery instant.

And, until now, we've seen plenty of movies that hold these people up to the epic standard we’ve come to expect. Damien Chazell's "First Man" is different as it looks into that well of humility for answers to this enigma in their character and why he was known as a “reluctant American hero.” It pushes the envelope by giving us a well-rounded picture of the man who first stepped foot on the moon and uttered those unforgettable words, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

In the film, Ryan Gosling portrays that astronaut, Neil Armstrong, as one of the most tightly wound individuals on the planet. Gosling shows him to be a man who is supremely in charge of his entire being, but like a complex Saturn V rocket, he’s constantly running checks and double checks on all his systems.

Outwardly, though, he can be tough to read, as his wife Janet (Claire Foy) confirms while holding down the fort at home with their kids. Armstrong’s seemingly impenetrable shell shows one major crack near the beginning of the film when it’s revealed that his 2-year-old daughter Karen suffers from a brain tumor. What happens to her will haunt him all that way to the moon.

The film, for the most part, tracks Armstrong’s career as a test pilot and later recruitment by NASA through the Gemini and Apollo programs and fateful trip to the moon and back. While Chazell's film makes use of huge sets and sophisticated technology to depict Armstrong’s accomplishments, it’s still a close-in character study, aiming to show us the complicated network of experiences that conspire to create a man with such clear focus.

This is an admirable film of a man to be admired, not only for what he did, but also because he was at the apex of a pyramid of skill and expertise possessed by hundreds of technicians who made it possible.

Tempo grade: A-

“First Man” is rated PG-13 for some thematic content involving peril, and brief strong language.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

Bad Times at the El Royale

MPAA rating: R for strong violence, language, some drug content and brief nudity.

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres

Written and directed by Drew Goddard, this mystery-thriller centers on a run-down hotel that sits on the border between California and Nevada. It soon becomes a seedy battleground when seven strangers — a cleric, a soul singer, a traveling salesman, two sisters, the manager and the mysterious Billy Lee — converge on a fateful night for one last shot at redemption before everything goes wrong.

The star-studded cast includes Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth, Nick Offerman and Shea Whigham.

This film is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For showtimes, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

MPAA rating: PG for scary creature action and images, some thematic elements, rude humor and language.

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres

While collecting junk one day, best friends Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor) and Sam (Caleel Harris) meet Slappy, a mischievous talking dummy from an unpublished "Goosebumps" book by R.L. Stine. Hoping to start his own family, Slappy kidnaps Sonny's mother and brings all of his ghoulish friends back to life — just in time for Halloween. As the sleepy town becomes overrun with monsters, witches and other mysterious creatures, Sonny joins forces with his sister, Sam and a kindly neighbor to save Sonny's mom and foil Slappy's plan.

Film directed by Ari Sandel co-stars Jack Black as R.L. Stine, plus Ken Jeong, Chris Parnell and Wendi McLendon-Covey.

This film is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For showtimes, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Hale County This Morning, This Evening

MPAA rating: Not rated

Taos Community Auditorium

Director and co-writer RaMell Ross offers an inspired and intimate portrait of a place and its people. The film presents Daniel Collins and Quincy Bryant, two young African American men from rural Hale County, Alabama, over the course of five years. Collins attends college in search of opportunity while Bryant becomes a father to an energetic son in an open-ended, poetic form that privileges the patiently observed interstices of their lives.

The audience is invited to experience the mundane and monumental, birth and death, the quotidian and the sublime, all of which combine to communicate the region's deep culture and to give a glimpse of the complex ways the African American community's collective image is integrated into America's visual imagination.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 30) and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Oct. 1-3) at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

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