First Man (2018)

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Everything Vader is saying about Neil, is why I think it works. Chazelle/Singer don’t seem to be bending over backwards trying to make us fall in love with Neil. It’s not sugarcoated like most Hollywood biopics. It’s quite a depressing movie. I wasn’t really on board either the first time I saw it. I was quite bored tbh. My second viewing changed my perception of the film, and what Chazelle achieved with this. It’s really ALL about Neil. But you have limited access because of how introverted he is. The second time around, everything that happens on the moon...hit me in the gut. I wasn’t expecting that.

There’s a distance between us and the character but this time, I felt what he was going through when that moment happens. Gosling’s performance is a million times better than Rami Malek, Toni Colette or any of those loud, obnoxious performances that people seem to praise as “great acting”. Two different styles, I know. But it’s another snub that baffles me. It’s truly remarkable work from Ryan. And that score is really something else. Another snub along with Johann’s Mandy score, and Yorke’s Suspiria.

It just clicked me on my second viewing. I really appreciated the tone and lack of patriotic, hammy b.s that floods every biopic like this. Spielberg, this is not. Thank god. You don’t have to understand Neil clearly. But it’s like Damien’s saying “this is who he is though, like it or lump it. He makes questionable choices in his personal life, and it’s difficult for him to open up to the people around him (including the audience) but this is our truth. He’s still a human being and deals with shit the way HE deals with it”.

My rating went from a 2.5/5 to a 4/5.

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shauner111 wrote:
January 29th, 2019, 1:08 pm
Everything Vader is saying about Neil, is why I think it works. Chazelle/Singer don’t seem to be bending over backwards trying to make us fall in love with Neil. It’s not sugarcoated like most Hollywood biopics. It’s quite a depressing movie. I wasn’t really on board either the first time I saw it. I was quite bored tbh. My second viewing changed my perception of the film, and what Chazelle achieved with this. It’s really ALL about Neil. But you have limited access because of how introverted he is. The second time around, everything that happens on the moon...hit me in the gut. I wasn’t expecting that.

There’s a distance between us and the character but this time, I felt what he was going through when that moment happens. Gosling’s performance is a million times better than Rami Malek, Toni Colette or any of those loud, obnoxious performances that people seem to praise as “great acting”. Two different styles, I know. But it’s another snub that baffles me. It’s truly remarkable work from Ryan. And that score is really something else. Another snub along with Johann’s Mandy score, and Yorke’s Suspiria.

It just clicked me on my second viewing. I really appreciated the tone and lack of patriotic, hammy b.s that floods every biopic like this. Spielberg, this is not. Thank god. You don’t have to understand Neil clearly. But it’s like Damien’s saying “this is who he is though, like it or lump it. He makes questionable choices in his personal life, and it’s difficult for him to open up to the people around him (including the audience) but this is our truth. He’s still a human being and deals with shit the way HE deals with it”.

My rating went from a 2.5/5 to a 4/5.
Agree with everything you say here except I liked it a lot the first time and by the end of the second viewing it became a 5/5 for me (maybe 4.8/5). The score snub is unforgivable, not to mention other categories.

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Man, I’ve been thinking about it more and more since my second viewing, and it’s like my rating keeps climbing. I almost want to watch it one more time before the Oscars. It’s at 4 stars now but I’m just wowed by Damien as a filmmaker. This dude is scary talented for his age and although it’s my least favourite of his three films, First Man shows massive development/maturity as an artist. This is a crazier start to a career than the two directors that we obsess over the most, around these parts (Nolan and Villeneuve).

I wonder if we will see that written & directed mini series from him by 2020. I know he’s directing a couple of episodes this year, for that Netflix musical, but I hope he jumps directly into that ‘Apple’ project.

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I just think that, if we’re to believe this is an accurate representation of how Neil behaved/was perceived by others in the 60s, then in my mind such way of looking at his character fits like a glove. If you know how desolate and distant Neil is (or at least that’s the point the film was going for), a man who buries his pain and grief deep inside, never letting anyone into very private and intimate moments, the narrative choices made within the film make sense. And the film’s emotional tone, style almost poetically coordinate to the emotional state of Neil himself. iF tHaT mAkEs SeNsE

Man idk, I feel like the film choosing to leave out a lot of the possible drama elements and sentimental stuff actually feels more heartbreaking, cuz if you look at it from Neil’s perspective, it’s way more telling of the world around him and his mindset than any of more elaborate emotionally deep scenes could ever be. Doors are shut because Neil shut doors for people in his life. I felt Gosling pulled that off perfectly. If it doesn’t work for someone, it just doesn’t, but if anything, I just thought it felt truthful.

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Ruth wrote:
January 29th, 2019, 10:11 pm
I just think that, if we’re to believe this is an accurate representation of how Neil behaved/was perceived by others in the 60s, then in my mind such way of looking at his character fits like a glove. If you know how desolate and distant Neil is (or at least that’s the point the film was going for), a man who buries his pain and grief deep inside, never letting anyone into very private and intimate moments, the narrative choices made within the film make sense. And the film’s emotional tone, style almost poetically coordinate to the emotional state of Neil himself. iF tHaT mAkEs SeNsE

Man idk, I feel like the film choosing to leave out a lot of the possible drama elements and sentimental stuff actually feels more heartbreaking, cuz if you look at it from Neil’s perspective, it’s way more telling of the world around him and his mindset than any of more elaborate emotionally deep scenes could ever be. Doors are shut because Neil shut doors for people in his life. I felt Gosling pulled that off perfectly. If it doesn’t work for someone, it just doesn’t, but if anything, I just thought it felt truthful.
Makes perfect sense to me. Well said.

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The burden of quality, cohesion and great art rests in higher shoulders than devotion to facts. First Man is, if nothing else, rigorously well researched.

That premise alone doesn't render it great cinema.


-Vader

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It's not about accuracy, but it is about a certain type of stoicism being central to the achievement itself. The "release" is in the most isolated place imaginable and even we cannot have access to it. Because for us, it doesn't exist. We can only imagine it.

This is in contrast to a modern concept of masculinity, but Chazelle's emphasis is after all on analogue imagery, physical dials and objects that place us squarely in a different era. To provide access and give us a more conceptual catharsis would defeat the point. Armstrong leads humanity because he can absorb and move on from anything. The tragedies are normalised, and the technical breakthroughs are a kind of traumatic survival horror. To me anyway that makes sense because the achievement is so singular and immense and yes alien to us even now, that to homogonise or rationalise it as Singer has done in his previous screenplays would be a betrayal of its nature.

I don't think this is necessarily right or wrong, but it is why I think this is a truly special and fresh approach to biopic. Because anyone can make Apollo 13.

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In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the landing, now would be a good time to watch this film again. And maybe also Todd Douglas Miller's Apollo 11.

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