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First Man Movie Review (2018) | Now Everybody Has Visited the Moon

What an enlightening experience! First Man movie lets you get into the shoes of Neil Armstrong, the first man to land on the moon, to experience his space sojourn firsthand. Damien Chazelle is the mastermind who weaves his magic once again after making an epic unforgettable musical La La Land two years ago.

First Man movie once again casts his lucky charm Ryan Gosling in an avatar that helps in immortalizing Neil with an intense perspective. Ryan forever carries a rare grave demeanour of a laconic man throughout the film, and successfully brings him back to life by playing Neil with a brooding conviction. Yes, Damien’s splendid take of him literally revives the dead and places him right in front of your eyes.

That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

First Man movie’s final moments are so intense that you will have your heart in your mouth during that segment. It is a recreation that plays on a whole next level. It is immediately transcending and tries to see things from the eyes of Neil himself. In those final moments, you realize the quiet to be deafening and you can literally hear your heartthrob. It is so powerful that it needs to be experienced in a proper movie theatre to feel ensuing goosebumps. The powerful score of Justin Hurwitz makes sure of it too.

The Direction of First Man Movie

Alright, first things first. You can’t even begin to imagine how much effort might have gone in recreating the moon. It all feels legit. As if you have yourself stepped on Earth’s natural satellite. Damien Chazelle’s efforts are so humongous and meticulous that they beat every other clumsy director in the industry to a pulp.

He is so careful with his direction that if you stop to think of all the incidents that made Neil’s life, they are all in there, properly framed for emphasis. A proper research has been done to ensure things were just as they were in reality. Even the insides of Neil Armstrong’s house was created just the way it was in reality. There are extraordinary simulations that rebuild the real thing thus allowing its actors to completely immerse themselves in a scene. You know, letting them forget the concoction so that they could leverage their drama to the maximum.

first man movie still of ryan gosling

Green screen hasn’t been used at all to direct this one which goes on to explain how serious a filmmaker Damien is. All the space scenes that were used in the First Man movie were in perfect reflection of all the video footages that the world had seen. Such beautiful coordination! It is like he shot for perfection and the end result simply blows your mind away because at the end you realize, it is.

You cannot even begin to imagine how painstakingly the team might have worked on matching the exact communication that went on the static to repaint history. For people who had experienced it back then, it is like reliving it word by word. The world skipped a heartbeat then to experience a gargantuan feat happen on a distant enclave. You will skip a heartbeat now to experience it on the big screen.

Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong

Ryan Gosling as Neil stays phenomenal. Although one could argue that the character he plays is quite taciturn so it doesn’t require a lot of animation or expressions from him. But if you pay attention to him, a rare gravitas plays in his thoughts at all times. You can see how serious he is about the job at hand. That he forever carries a profound eye for what’s going on. That he is conscious about his death at all times, and yet he is not afraid to do the one thing he has prepared himself for.

When you are down here in the crowd and you look up, it looks pretty big and you don’t think about it too much. But when you get a different vantage point it changes your perspective.

It is as if Ryan knows the tremendous importance of the work he does. Challenges are met with an equally grim reaction and an expert eye as he reckons his options. His humour is deadpan but right on.

The Serenity (Spoilers)

Ryan wears an armour of Neil creating this serious avatar that’s so much inside his skull. You show him and you notice that it is his eyes that do the talking for the most part of the movie. There are so many moments in the First Man movie where you see Neil being extensively calm whilst an enormous mishap has just happened in the backdrop. It is like riding your car even though you know it is on fire.

I don’t know what space exploration will uncover, but I don’t think it will be exploration just for the sake of exploration. I think it will be more the fact that it allows us to see things. That maybe we should have seen a long time ago. But just haven’t been able to until now.

You can’t help but fall in love with this guy who is so much more than meets the eye. Every second he is brooding, carrying the weight of a dead daughter on his shoulders. You know he would never be the same when you see him henceforth and that’s how he proves Neil to be. Drenched in his pain, unable to experience anything truly magnificent until eventually it matches something as big as the moon.

Claire Foy as Janet Armstrong

If you talk about the First Man it is hard not to talk about the First Woman who sacrificed so much to see it through. Janet Armstrong, in a world where one cannot be simply what one aspires to be, literally abdicated her throne of life. Where love generally tumbles, she stood there like a rock understanding him at every juncture. She knew what she was getting into and yet she trusted her guts with it. A love like him came with a cost, and it is worth an ovation how she hung around like a warrior.

You are gonna sit them down. Both of them. And you are going to prepare them for the fact that you might not ever come home. You are doing that. You. Not me. I am done.

Claire Foy does ample justice to Janet playing her like a woman in constant battle with her undying resolve and occasionally with her husband who was nothing less than stardust. The constant apprehension she carries is killing and you can’t help but wonder who was really living on the edge? How her life entangled with Neil so fine. There seemed absent love, and yet there it was in its strongest form. Unheard and unspoken.

Aftermath

All these protocols and procedures to make it seem like you have it under control. But you’re a bunch of boys making models out of balsa wood! You don’t have anything under control!

Aftermath moon is one of the best parts of the movie where you see Janet getting to see Neil after his sojourn to the moon. They look like mere blank faces but there is so much emotion boiling under that it is hard to see past their sea of calm. They don’t say a word. Their presence on the same planet feels like a story per se. To have returned from a distant dream feels like a whole new life, and yet their acknowledgment is not a big hoot you would have expected but a calm eye-nod which remains unspoken. They look at each other as if there was a rare silent understanding dangling in their air and you can’t help but fall victim to this uncommon unsaid love.

On the downsides, if you try really hard to think would be the screenplay which could have been better. We could have dabbed the throttle on theatrics a bit, but life has no theatrics so it still feels like a perfect gel. Also at times, you feel that they could have done so much with the drama but it ends up becoming sidelined.

You can order First Man movie from here:

The Final Verdict

First Man movie is hands down an epic contender for the Academy next year and I am pretty sure they are going to win big. It has ‘Science’ written all over it that tries to imitate the reality. All the facts check out as if the creators went back in time to ensure that they did. Witness some really serious film-making take shape and fall in love with a movie that deserves an ovation! A man that needs to be celebrated like an unflinching pioneer he is, who put his dream ahead of his life.

To end this on a final note, I would say – Watch out for that last spellbinding moment of the moon. It is made so tangible that you are almost tempted to reach out with both hands for it. It is a completely immersive experience that picks you up and puts you right up there. For the first time, you might realize how lonely it could mean to be on the moon all by yourself. Experience it yourself to understand why!

It is so impactful that it gives you jitters knowing that with that giant leap, mankind had successfully demarked a place of human reach that one could only once dream of.

Manchester by the Sea Review (2016) | Immensely Mournful

Extremely sad and touching. Kenneth Lonnergan‘s masterpiece is a movie that can’t be forgotten. Manchester by the Sea is a soul-stirring drama that will make sure you end up in a pool of tears. It has profound grief written all over it as it moves forward showing frames of a gradual build up that ends up in colossal dolour.

Grief is havocking. So the Manchester by the Sea proves when it swings around a reason so blood curdling that it is hard not to cry. It is a blend of guilt with pang thereafter that doesn’t let you slow down a bit. And you cry, and cry for a loss so horrendous it compels your guts to sing icky songs.

Direction of Manchester by the Sea

One of the best things about the movie is Kenneth Lonnergan’s direction. It is as calm as a good drama flick demands. Poignant and very powerful. It hides its cardinal cause well under the wraps for a good amount of time, building up enough suspense around the mystery man, the protagonist of the tale.

He chooses to go back in time occasionally showing the good days to prepare us for the saddest news our brains could register. His frames run long even if they are memories to give us a proper look into what had once happened.

Amongst Lonnergan’s other works are Margaret and You Can Count on Me.

Casey Affleck’s Acting Prowess

Casey Affleck’s performance is Oscar worthy. He is a great actor who is often overlooked by the gavels. He plays a guy who has accidentally done something horrible and is constantly living with a sad reminder of the tragedy.

Playing Lee wasn’t an easy job. The fact that he is tied up by an incessant struggle where he behaves like a tough guy, silently wishing to wane away inflicting pain by putting himself in harm’s way will make you feel extremely sorry for him.

It was an accident. An accident. It is so hard to make someone understand, the mishap you have to live with is all your own doing. He is in an incredible amount of pain and forever girded by depression. He says no to life, and is just carrying on without a will to live.

I don’t know if anyone could have played Lee Chandler as convincingly as he did.

Plot of Manchester by the Sea (Spoilers)

Lee Chandler portrayed by Casey Affleck is a guy doing menial jobs, who says no to the world, and you are left to wonder why. That’s when you see the movie making time jumps occasionally. It travels back and forth in its timeline to show you a glimpse of the before and the after.

It is only when his brother Joe Chandler portrayed by Kyle Chandler (yes he’s the real Chandler) dies that he decides to pay him a visit. Even there we are forced to believe Lee is an emotionally absent guy, who doesn’t shed a tear for the loss of a loved one.

With Joe’s death, he is supposed to look after his son Patrick played by Lucas Hedges. The latter is a teen still trying to figure out life. He seems to take the death of his old man lightly because it didn’t seem to affect him either. Both Joe and Patrick appear to be somehow on the same pedestals of human emotions wherein distance seems to have created what looks like reckless indifference.

still of casey affleck and lucas hedges in manchester by the sea

We delve a little deeper as they carry on their regular chores, inadvertently circling his grave with what comes as an aftermath of someone’s death. It is the mundane part that deals with funerals, the will, the entire setup that juxtaposes his thoughts against his past.

The Tragic Accident

In a place that Lee had forever dreaded to go back to, we find him unknowingly winding up. We are introduced to his enormous pang, the reason for a screwed up life, and why he wishes to stay miles away from Manchester. He had accidentally set his house on fire killing his three young children. It is hard not to empathize with it. The accident so despicable that could leave anyone shuddering for years. So it happens with Lee. It sucks out the will to live out of him.

The part that follows him when all charges are dropped against him is one of the most havocking parts of the movie. You find him asking:

“That’s it?”

to the cops who write him off saying it was just an accident and that it was nothing but a misfortune. His first impulse is to shoot himself when the police vindicates him. But he wishes immense punitive measures to be taken against him. To live with that pain is to be completely dead inside. And given the angst surrounding his tragedy anyone would want a quick escape.

With a downward tumble into the world of depression after a failed attempt at suicide, he has moved out of the city, out of his marriage and everything that remotely connected him to any memory. He is in constant pain, and wishes others to inflict more on him. A state of mind you can relate so much too. Deliberately asking for bludgeons to death.

Towards the end we find Randi Chandler his ex-wife played by Michelle Williams trying her level best to talk to Lee. It is another one of those devastating moments in the movie that puts drama back in action. Watch out for that!

“There’s nothing left. There’s nothing there, you don’t understand.”

You can order Manchester by the Sea here:

Lucas Hedges as an actor

At the same time Lucas Hedges doesn’t make you overlook him either. He plays that quintessential teen who couldn’t care less about what goes on in the family. But then again, he never let things percolate into him, and once it does, he breaks too. He has his own way of remembering, and putting sense into the loss. Like keeping the cadaver into a freezer bothered him the most. He is naive apparently yet brimming with emotions when he actually stops to think about it.

“Something’s wrong with me. I don’t know! I feel really weird! I am having like a panic attack or something.”

The Final Verdict

The aptly named Manchester by the Sea is a movie that should not be missed for the world. If you are not a fan of drama, then there’s a chance that you might not like it owing to its slow pace. Au contraire, if you are, you are going to absolutely love it. Do we hear Oscar bells for Casey and the movie?

You can check out the trailer of Manchester by the Sea here:

 

 

Carol Review (2015)

An alluring take on same-sex love!

Carol isn’t just a self-exploration sojourn of Therese Belivet; it is so much more. With an enchanting screenplay to keep us company, Carol walks with a constant finesse depicting human emotions in a beautiful way. You can’t help but feel for the characters as they carry the right gusto in their acts.

Rooney Mara is simply outstanding. She carries a face of innocence that reads confusion quite often, whilst trying to learn the ways of her character. Coming to her aid is the voluptuous Carol Aird played by Cate Blanchett, whose life is torn apart owing to an ongoing divorce scene that hurls her into fits of melancholia.

SPOILERS:

The way Todd Haynes traverses the camera from a gutter to a third person perspective by capturing the rattling and chugging of a train in the backdrop, to reach the protagonists having a conversation on a table speaks volume of his sheer genius. Right there the prologue gets painted, and memories gush in from the past through the mist of the car window, as Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) gawks at the city, being indifferent to the talks of the mundane.

It is a beautiful way of depicting movie frames which Haynes seems to have mastered. He nails them like a pro. Complements Todd brilliantly in the background with an enthralling profound score is Carter Burwell, whose music is placed at right scenes, to make you feel the flick’s endearing rhythm.

“My angel, flung out of space.”

Love has so many forms. It goes beyond age and sex, and Patricia Highsmith’s story couldn’t cover it better. With a genius like Todd to help us crawl alongside the frames, the movie forever stays in empathetic waters. With spectacular performances by Cate and Rooney, the movie reaches a pinnacle of emotions. Little things, like when Therese notices minute details in Carol whilst she drives, and when she shows up eventually with a quivering heart hoping that she would see her are all brilliantly shot.

The movie’s drama at times misses on milking Carol’s love for Therese. Her life’s atrocities fail to cash in on the love she feels for Therese, and that’s where the flick appears to have dwindled. But still Haynes manages to keep the juices flowing and what we have in the end is a magnificent project in melodrama.

Highly recommended!