Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Review of HARRIET

Harriet, rated PG-13
*** ½

Harriet is a well-made and acted film about Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and her work with the Underground Railroad. The film is directed by Kasi Lemmons. Lemmons co-wrote the film with Gregory Allen Howard (Remember the Titans). Lemmons has indicated that she wanted to make a freedom film, not a slavery film. As such, there are no beatings or lynchings depicted in the film.
The story is told chronologically, beginning in Maryland in 1849. Araminta “Minty” Ross, played by Tony Award winner Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple), is married to the freeman John Tubman, played by Zackary Momoh. Tubman has obtained legal documentation to verify that under the terms of a will left behind by the great-grandfather of Maryland plantation owner Edward Brodess, played by Michael Marunde, Minty, her siblings and their mother should have been freed more than a decade ago. But Minty is denied the freedom that she’d been promised, and when she is to be sold to slave owners from the deep South, she escapes and runs away, landing in Philadelphia after a treacherous 100-mile journey. Continue reading


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My Review of Hidden Figures

hidden-figuresHidden Figures, rated PG
**** 

Hidden Figures is a true, inspirational film that you will love.  It is directed by Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent), and written by Melfi and Allison Schroeder, based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly.  It tells the story of some key – and hidden – figures in NASA’s efforts to win the space race against the Russians in the early 1960’s. The film features three African-American women, known as “colored computers”, who work for NASA in the Computers Division at the Langley Research Center. The setting is the Mercury Project, the launch of astronaut John Glenn (portrayed by Glenn Powell), into orbit, and his safe return.

Oscar winner (The Help) Octavia Spencer has received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of Dorothy Vaughan. Dorothy does the work of a group supervisor but is held back from receiving the title, pay and recognition of that position. She experiences racism from her supervisor Vivian Mitchell (Kirsten Dunst, Spider-Man films), who doesn’t believe an African-American woman should be a supervisor.  Janelle Monae (Moonlight) portrays Mary Jackson, an aerospace engineer who has to take her case to court to be allowed to take classes to pursue an advanced degree. She is striving to overcome all of the obstacles on her way to becoming the first female African-American Engineer at NASA. Oscar nominee (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) Taraji P. Henson portrays Katherine Johnson, an incredible mathematician. She is the only African-American woman working in the Space Task Group. We see her have to fight to have her ideas heard. She has to run across the NASA campus to use the colored ladies restroom and she can’t drink out of the same coffee pot that others in the Space Task Group do. Her performance may be Oscar worthy.

Two-time Oscar winner (Dances with Wolves) Kevin Costner delivers a solid performance as Al Harrison, the head of the Space Task Group.  Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) portrays Jim Johnson, who romantically pursues Katherine, and Golden Globe winner (The Big Bang Theory) Jim Parsons portrays Katherine’s supervisor Paul Stafford, who puts one obstacle after another in Katherine’s ability to do her job.

I really enjoyed the music in the film. The film has received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score – Motion Picture from Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams and Benjamin Wallfisch. Williams also served as one of the producers of the film.

There are many instances of faith being displayed in the film (a scene in church, prayer at the dinner table, etc.).  The romance between Jim Johnson and Katherine is lovely, and should be an example to the younger generation, along with the work ethic portrayed and the emphasis on education.  The film shows the racism and the pursuit of civil rights in the country in the early 1960’s. The film also includes some real-life footage of space launches, a speech from President Kennedy, etc.

The film tells the inspirational story of these three brilliant and driven African-American women who battled race and gender biases. It features excellent acting performances and is a refreshing PG-rated film that all can enjoy without worrying about content issues.

Highly recommended!