First Man

by Zach Smith-Michaels

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After Damien Chazelle’s unbelievable success with Whiplash and La La Land, I must say that I was pretty interested when I heard that Chazelle was going to space. I was very impressed with his direction of La La Land and I thought his Oscar for best director was well deserved. Too often I’ve seen directors like Chazelle live and die on one topic, in this case films about music. Too often we’ve seen these young guys win awards, and then all their movies feel the same. That is not the case here. Chazelle is continuing to grow as a film maker, and as a result we have First Man. A film I love!

My problem with most biopics is that they all feel very similar, but Chazelle has broken new ground with this amazing film! He seems to be taking more notes from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, than say an Apollo 13type of film. This film is filled with breath taking shots (especially in space) and white knuckle tension. You already know the story, but Chazelle still manages to add an element of suspense.

Chazelle uses a lot of close ups, and a good portion of this film seems to shot hand held. Also, this film recreated the 60’s very well by using 16 and 32mm cameras. However, once the film gets to space…that’s when IMAX becomes worth the price of admission! The scenes in space were so beautiful! So beautiful! I honestly can’t tell what was CGI and was achieved through practical effects. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing!

I know that I’ve talked about the visuals in this film quite a bit, but I must say that this film masters the discipline of “Show. Don’t tell.” So much emotion and heart is conveyed through visual story telling…and the performances are pretty incredible too.

It’s Ryan Gosling! Has the man ever let you down? Even in a sub par movie, he always brings his best to the table and First Man is no exception. He has to portray drive, determination, heartache, fear, and more whilst playing a very stoic and subdued Neil Armstrong. Claire Foy plays Armstrong’s wife who is a little more vocal with her emotions and I thought that Foy did a great job. On many occasions, you can look into her eyes, and understand every single thing that she is feeling. Gosling and Foy are the main focus, but the entire supporting cast blends in perfectly.

I think that all the hype around A Star Is Born and even Venom is causing this film to falter at the box office, and that’s unfortunate. I believe that First Manreally benefits from the theater experience. I think that this will be the movie that people meant to see, but they never got around to it, and when they watch it at home…and they’ll really wish they had seen it on the big screen.

I can’t say enough about this movie. First Man really spoke to me on an emotional level that I can’t explain. This film is going to stay with me for a long time and I must say that this is the type of movie that I’ve been waiting for all year. Chazelle has become a better director with each film, and I strongly encourage you to see that for yourself.