First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)

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Brian C
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Re: First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)

#76 Post by Brian C » Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:27 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:But that's exactly when we're supposed separate conjunctive adverbs with commas: when there's no change in meaning. Unrestrictive adverbs are often used as pauses or asides, so they get separated from the rest of the sentence. It's restrictive adverbs that don't get commas.
This sounds like a duel between competing style guides in the making.

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Mr Sausage
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First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)

#77 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:47 pm

Meh. It’s one of those grammatical points I can take or leave. Was probably decided arbitrarily by some 18th century pedant whose book happened to be popular.

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Brian C
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Re: First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)

#78 Post by Brian C » Fri Oct 19, 2018 5:48 pm

This has been growing on me since I saw it yesterday. At first, I thought the movie succumbed to the same kind of structural problem that plagues a lot of movies about a Big Important Event, which is that there's a lot of screentime to fill around the Big Important Event and it's sort of inherently going to be less interesting than the Event itself. In other words, while watching it, I had a little bit of a "ok let's just go to the moon already" feeling. I mean, there's no way that watching Ryan Gosling stare longingly up at the night sky or Claire Foy's concerned-spouse reaction shots can compete with, you know, going to the moon.

But a day later, I find myself remembering more what I liked about it. For one thing, this is a first-class production made by first-class craftspeople. It's not as bold (or, if you like them less than I do, self-aggrandizing) as Chazelle's last two features, but it's impeccably made and was a real pleasure to watch aside from the inherent narrative issues. And amid the fairly standard domestic scenes, the Gemini 8 and Apollo 11 missions are both flat-out showstoppers and justify seeing the film all by themselves.

Secondly, I really admire the way that the film eschews a lot of the GREAT MAN hagiography that I would normally expect from a movie like this. Armstrong isn't portrayed as some kind of great visionary or really even all that fawningly - instead, the filmmakers respect him enough to portray him as an intelligent guy who basically was just really good at his job and happened to be at the right place at the right time. Basically, he's the kind of guy that you'd want on your team if you were doing something crazy like shooting some guys into space and hoping to get them back. There's a humanity to this depiction that biopics seem to actively avoid in their quest to make their subject as amazing and important as possible.

So, like I said, I think my initial reaction of mild disappoint was off-base. It's not that the structural problems aren't there, it's just that I feel like there's enough to offer that I'm over them.

connor
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Re: First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)

#79 Post by connor » Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:13 pm

Enjoyed this push-back in Jacobin to the Richard Brody review:
Brody’s argument suggests that the cinematic depiction of Armstrong’s steadfast resolution ignores class struggle. But is it not obvious that the engine driving the United States to the moon was competition with the Soviet Union? That the “threat” of Communism disciplined the capitalist ruling class? The advances in technology and living standards achieved by the US, before the neoliberal counter-revolution, were precisely products of class struggle at home, too: high wages and the pressure they put on capital to develop labor-saving technology.

So maybe those 1960s protesters were wrong, by setting this up as a trade-off. After all, nowadays we have less class struggle, less welfare and no ambitious space program. Perhaps the counter-cultural attempt to deconstruct ambition and stoicism is, in fact, complicit with our days’ limited horizons.

It is this stoicism that comes in for the biggest bashing from Brody. The film is “defined not by conservative politics but, rather, by a narrow and regressive emotional perspective that shapes and distorts the substance of the film.” See Armstrong’s unwillingness publicly to emote over his departed daughter.
SpoilerShow
But the film’s emotional climax sees Armstrong depositing his dead daughter’s bracelet on the surface of the moon while we flash back, through the astronaut’s eyes, to those bittersweet memories of life before. It is catharsis. It is beautiful. This is what all that doggedness was for: this release. You’d have to be an emotional eunuch not to be touched.
For Brody, this Armstrong is but a “cardboard cutout, a living poster man of bygone American heroism.” The drive Chazelle depicts is not just about the conquest of outer space, but the mastery of inner space. It is about self-discipline in the pursuit of greatness. What is particularly right-wing about this?

Maybe it is forgotten that Marxism is a doctrine of (collective) self-discipline. It’s not about let-it-all-hang-out hippyness, nor of anarchoid anger, an unleashing of the ego. It’s about determination to create a world in which we are not throttled and thrown about by impersonal forces. We can go beyond the sterile, artless, philistine domination by the market and its narrow calculation. This is what Marx called inner necessity.

As many have noted, it is telling that US capitalism’s drive to explore came to an end once the Soviet Union collapsed. These were two ostensibly revolutionary powers, but in fact, the New World republic had long left revolution behind. Only one of the two powers still had thrust of its own, which had the positive effect of pulling the other along. Now, that’s all over. At best, there is privatized version of the space race. If imperial competition was a terrible alibi for human exploration, private competition is even more tawdry, and timid.

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bottled spider
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Re: First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)

#80 Post by bottled spider » Tue Nov 06, 2018 3:39 pm

Can you nest spoiler tags in quotation tags? I think that excerpt includes a significant spoiler...

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mfunk9786
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Re: First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)

#81 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Nov 06, 2018 3:42 pm

I think I'd disagree that it's a spoiler unless you're unfamiliar with the rhythms of a movie like this (not my tempo...) but I have fixed what I assume is the spot you're talking about.

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bottled spider
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Re: First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)

#82 Post by bottled spider » Tue Nov 06, 2018 4:02 pm

(I haven't seen the movie yet. I just got the notion when I read it that the moment in question was something some previous posters in the thread had been avoiding revealing.)

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domino harvey
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Re: First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)

#83 Post by domino harvey » Thu Feb 07, 2019 2:46 am

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:19 pm
mfunk9786 wrote:
Mon Oct 15, 2018 11:18 am
LQ saw this without me to conduct a film chat afterward and said it was "fine" multiple times without being able to really figure out why everyone in the chat loved it. Somehow I am now more intrigued after this lukewarm and mysterious spousal reception.

Maybe I can urge her to expand on that here.
Everything about this movie looks "fine," I am in no rush to see it but am sure once I do it'll be a solid, three star, never need to see it again experience
Nailed it

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tenia
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Re: First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)

#84 Post by tenia » Thu Feb 07, 2019 5:15 am

I watched this one yesterday and I guess this will end up echoing my final thoughts about the movie too.
It's well made and finely acted and directed, etc etc, but in the end, it feels like gliding on me and I will have forgotten about it in a few days / weeks. I don't know. There's tons of drama there, but it yet feels asinine in the end. It might have to do with the movie having so many ellipsis you get lost on any emotional build-up within the characters.

One thing I was surprised by though, is that for all I've heard about the lunar sequence etc etc, it had a horrendous look. It feels awfully digital and I was taken a lot aback by the astronaut look that felt like a CGI incrusted in there (especially with the numerous direct frontal close-ups of the astronaut with the helmet on). It wasn't nice to look at all, and I wondered what people were praising so much here.

Being French, I also wondered what the fuss was all about about the movie's "patriotic stance". As a whole, though it quite directly questions the human cost of the missions depicted in the movie, it felt also quite clearly emphasising Armstrong's personal sacrifices (despite his grief), the camaraderie within the NASA teams, and of course how NASA's genius collection minds allowed for such an achievement to be performed.

I guess the best about the movie is that it manages quite well to balance between the grandeur of the space program and the very intimate of the daily lives and relationships of the persons involved in it. Still, clocking at 2h20, its pacing doesn't help finding it as compelling as it might have been. I'm also wondering if maybe Gosling felt too soft-looking, too sweet for me to buy into the drama Armstrong faced during this period of his life.

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domino harvey
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Re: First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)

#85 Post by domino harvey » Thu Feb 07, 2019 11:06 am

I thought the best thing here was Gosling's performance, which I think was massively underrated by most, even those who liked the film. But the Tree of Life-lite family stuff added nothing and I think the film would have been better if all of it was cut. You could literally cut every scene with Foy and still be fine-- that allows you to keep the part where Clarke and Gosling see the swing set and you still get the message on his daughter and his emotional distance loud and clear.

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tenia
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Re: First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)

#86 Post by tenia » Thu Feb 07, 2019 11:33 am

I think Gosling was fine, it's just that in the context of the movie, I'm not sure he conveyed effectively the grief and communication difficulties Armstrong faced. I felt Gosling was keeping a blank face all the time, but instead of making me feel he was keeping his emotions to himself, it felt as if all the drama was just passing him by. Maybe that's not him but the movie's script that's doing that, but never the less, I found his acting pretty much fine but yeah, I'm not sure if this specific part of the movie was conveyed that well.

I agree otherwise about your more general point about all the family drama, but considering it seems to be the anchor of the project for Chazelle, I'm not sure it's a good thing to believe all this could/should be cut.

On the "Tree of Life-lite" material, the comparison seems very adequate to me, since there were some family shots in Armstrong's house, with Foy running after the kids, that were shot in a style clearly reminiscent of TOL.

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Shrew
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Re: First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)

#87 Post by Shrew » Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:07 pm

tenia wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 5:15 am
Being French, I also wondered what the fuss was all about about the movie's "patriotic stance". As a whole, though it quite directly questions the human cost of the missions depicted in the movie, it felt also quite clearly emphasising Armstrong's personal sacrifices (despite his grief), the camaraderie within the NASA teams, and of course how NASA's genius collection minds allowed for such an achievement to be performed.
It was the conservative media picking a fight with "liberal Hollywood" over a movie none of them had seen, accusing the film of leaving out the US flag on the moon. The film of course does show the flag, though it skips the planting and it's only seen in the background of pans around Gosling. Said conservative media picked this fight because the moon mission is part of the "Great America" myth/baby boomer nostalgia Trump ran his campaign on. Thus, any attempt to decenter some vague image of America in this must be taken as slight against America's past greatness.

That said, I can understand people expecting the film to build to the planting of the flag and being confused when the film takes another route, even though that choice makes perfect sense within the narrative. The image of the flag on the moon is probably the key image of the moon landing for most Americans, thanks in part to pop culture detritus like the opening of Independence Day and the MTV logo. But also, because the space suits render the astronauts anonymous and inexpressive (most Americans would know the name Neil Armstrong, but I doubt most could identify his picture), the flag has become the shorthand for the accomplishment of the whole thing.

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Re: First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)

#88 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:55 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 11:06 am
I thought the best thing here was Gosling's performance, which I think was massively underrated by most, even those who liked the film. But the Tree of Life-lite family stuff added nothing and I think the film would have been better if all of it was cut. You could literally cut every scene with Foy and still be fine-- that allows you to keep the part where Clarke and Gosling see the swing set and you still get the message on his daughter and his emotional distance loud and clear.
I thought Foy's performance was strong, and her portion of the film was both a necessary counterweight to Armstrong's arc and consistent with Chazelle's examination of the personal costs of professional commitment/obsession over his last three films.

I agree that Gosling's performance is severely underrated, as is the film as a whole — I think in a few years this will be considered one of the two or three finest studio films of this year, especially in comparison to films much more successful in both box office and awards like Bohemian Rhapsody, Green Book and A Star is Born.

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knives
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Re: First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)

#89 Post by knives » Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:44 pm

Foam wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 11:39 am
I'll give it some credit, this is the first film of its kind where you really feel the palpable danger of these missions not from a kind of "thriller" syntax but from something much more immediate and physical; these flight scenes are filled with wildly shaking camerawork and feature creaky, clunky ships inflicting punishment both on the pilots and the viewers. Yet overall I was unmoved by the monotonal dreariness of the proceedings. Maybe it's because I recently saw The Right Stuff and For All Mankind both for the first time (richly textured films capturing a beauty and romance of space flight which I buy into) that I just couldn't swallow Chazelle's miserabilst kitsch take on the subject.
This about sums things up for me. While there are admirable bits throughout the film, particularly Gosling and Clarke, and the flight scenes are genuinely jaw dropping the overall effect is basically okay. The characters are largely indistinguishable and Chazelle's overserious makes the movie seem overly one note. Definitely would posit those other two as the Gallant to this semi-Goofus. Even the jokes in the film have this monotonal sadness that is boring.

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Persona
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Re: First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)

#90 Post by Persona » Thu Apr 11, 2019 12:21 pm

The opening scenes are quite effective but aside from that this was just okay for me.

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