Movie Review: Good performances can’t blast Hidden Figures out of prestige convention

Though it’s set in the early ’60s, Hidden Figures swiftly racks up plot points and details that seem torn from 2016 headlines. Broadly, it’s about institutional racism and sexism in a divided country; more specifically, Russia provides the unseen bad guys; it features two cast members from the celebrated 2016 release Moonlight; and there’s a small speaking role for the recently deceased astronaut John Glenn, depicted here as a handsome young man. This currency, some of it purely accidental, juts out from a movie that is mostly conventional: an uplifting historical drama about beating the odds plus also the racists.

The movie can’t exactly be called regressive, but one behind-the-scenes element stands out as such. The director/co-writer of this movie about three black women working at NASA during the space race is Theodore Melfi, a white man. It’s hard to buy the usual logic …

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