REVIEW – HIDDEN FIGURES – Waiting to Exhale meets The Right Stuff.

We’ve all got used tot he images of NASA over the years. Buzz cut aw shucks heroes like Sam Shepherd, Tom Hanks and Dennis Quaid – blasting off into space and the only maths you hear is 5-4-3-2-1. And the only black faces you see are… well you don’t see any.

Octavia Spencer plays Dorothy Vaughan, the leader of a section of computers – this was when computers were actually people who did the math. Janelle Monáe is Mary Jackson, the sassy engineer. Taraji P Henson plays Katherine Johnson, promoted to a role in the Space Task Group. She is essential for sending John Glenn into orbit as part of the Mercury program. They have to deal with the hard sums, but also the institutional racism and the snidey snips of Kirsten Dunst, among others.

Taken from Margot Lee Shetterly’s book Hidden Figures is a great watch for Black History Month. A reminder of the contribution Afro-Americans have made and how that contribution has been systematically erased. The only problem with the movie is that to make the struggle against racism familiar, the actual history is twisted. Desegregation took place at NASA three years before the film even begins in 1961. And the various promotions and achievements also don’t tally with the chronology. This allows Kevin Costner to be a white knight and Dunst to have a learning curve. But there is uplift and not only from the launchpads. A timely reminder of how much we can do when we work together.

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OKLAHOMA – Tracy Lett’s August: Osage County starring Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep is already the action movie of 2014, and now Happy Frrrt Toys are bringing out a complete collection of character action figures so you can play along with all the lively family discussions, pill popping and hilarious suicide. 

The figures will come complete with angst and family secrets and – in the case of Meryl Streep’s character – a detachable wig!

Happy Frrrt Toys Spokesperson, Clem Beliez explained:

We’ve done a whole series of Sam Shepherd action figures ever since Days of Heaven. The Right Stuff was probably our most popular model, but when we saw an early cut of the film we knew that this would be the film based children’s toy of the season.

Don’t you think it’s a little inappropriate?

What? No. What do you mean inappropriate?

Well, cancer, drug abuse, incest, suicide: they’re not exactly subjects that are appropriate for children to play with. 

Star Wars action figures included characters who committed incest, violence, murder, suicide and anti-Semitic robots. I didn’t hear you complaining then. 

August: Osage County action figures are available from all good toy shops.