We saw Hidden Figures over the weekend.
I really like the early history of NASA. Going to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington and the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL were like religious experiences for me; merely being in the presence of an Apollo capsule or a Saturn V rocket section makes me ecstatic. In my enthusiastic reading, as both a kid and an adult, I've perused the histories, schematics, math problems, and accounts of early rocketry and space flight. I really like the film Apollo 13.
Hidden Figures combines that interest and wonder with the figures often hidden in those histories and accounts: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. The aeronautical is also the personal - the film manages to focus simultaneously on the immediate effects of segregation on these women, the mission everyone had to put a man in space, and their personal lives. (For me, a scene where Dorothy Vaughan goes with her son to the library sticks out in particular.
She's looking for a book on FORTRAN so she can learn how to maintain the new IBM at Langley. A librarian approaches her for being in the white section of the library, and after a tense exchange the scene cuts to she and her son being led out the door by an officer. She yells at him to let go of her son; the tension between protecting her child and not overstepping the place she's been put in and being arrested is palpable. Then another cut - they're sitting in the back of a segregated bus. Dorothy is lecturing her son about what's fair and what's right, and she pulls the library book out of her coat. Her son asks about it. Dorothy quips back that it's her right: she paid the taxes that paid for every book, so it's hers. I don't have the words to describe Octavia Spencer's acting throughout the scene; it's pitch-perfect.
) All this is to say I really like it. I came in for the NASA history and interest in learning more about segregation, and came away entertained, awed, and wanting to learn more. I want to teach this film as soon as possible, and I've already got plans to read the nonfiction book the film is based on.