Last Wednesday I went to the cinema. Twice.
By which I mean I saw two films, technically I only went to the cinema once.
The films in question were First Man, conveniently timed to end just before A Star Is Born (film two) began. Both are two hours plus, so I spent almost as long at the cinema as I did in the office that day, and that is the way I like it.
I won’t lie, almost five hours with barely a break is a little hard on the knees (it’s a tall person thing) and double the usual intake of Minstrels is not calorifically ideal, but these are the sacrifices you make when you commit to a life of film buffery.
Everyone knows that Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon. Most know that Buzz Aldrin was second. A smaller number know that Michael Collins (not that one) stayed in orbit while they both bounced around beneath him. After that, my practical knowledge of the Apollo programme runs out (unless it’s something I learned from Apollo 13). My knowledge of Gemini (pronounced confusingly throughout as jem-in-ee) is even more limited, so apart from anything else the film filled in a few gaps.
Armstrong was famously silent about his trip to the moon, but it appears to be popular belief that his actions there as represented in the film are not beyond the realms of belief. I’d certainly like to think there’s a tribute to his daughter up there somewhere.
Stylistically, as you might expect from Chazelle, the camerawork is incredibly dynamic, which works well for test flights and rocket launches, but did make me glad that I wasn’t watching in 3D or 4DX*. By contrast, the moonwalking scenes are immensely still and tranquil and would no doubt look absolutely incredible on the IMAX screens they were filmed for.
Four out of five, out of this world.
*Secretly though I think I’d like to give this a go…
To my recollection I’ve only seen the Judy Garland/James Mason A Star Is Born, but that was enough to prepare me for the fact that things would not end well for at least one of the two leads, and it was fairly clear early on which it would be.
I read an interview with Lady Gaga about the genesis of the film just before I saw it, and what she says about the chemistry between her and Cooper is true. It also impressed me that he learned to play guitar and piano before writing three songs for the film. If one of them is not nominated for an Oscar I’ll be astounded. Likewise, if the film doesn’t get the big four (or even five) nominations it’ll be an astounding oversight.
It was nice to see a couple of Alias regulars make appearances, although it did have me looking out for a stealth Jennifer Garner throughout.
It transpires that all three previous versions are currently available on Netflix/Amazon Prime, so I hope to catch up them shortly. I think a triple-bill might be a little too much though.
Overall, a solid four out of five. Only two for the audience though.