‘First Man’ Reaches ForThe Moon – And Succeeds!

On the heels of their six-time Academy Award winning smash, La La Land, director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling combine for First Man, the riveting story of NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon.

Review: “First Man” is a thrilling and insightful account of the first lunar mission.

Its a movie fully focusing on Neil Armstrong and the years 1961-1969. A dramatic first-person account, based on the book by James R. Hansen, the movie explores the sacrifices and the cost on Armstrong and on the nation of one of the most dangerous missions in history. For about 20 minutes, Neil Armstrong was the loneliest human being in the universe.

I loved it. It’s now one of my top 3 movies of all time. Certainly the MOST impressive film of the space age I’ve been lucky enough to see. Ther was only one point I’ll make and it was a disappointment – We dodn’t get to see the planting of the flag on the Moon. To me an integral and vital part of the entire Apollo Space Program. It was shown in the distance, fleetingly, which I guess is a small compensation.

Like space flight, filmmaking is created to take people beyond what they already know to see what they don’t. With stunning realism and detail, the astronaut blockbuster “First Man” does just that. It shows us the commitment, traumas and almost insurmountable challenges of the most dangerous missions ever attempted.

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After successes in entirely different arenas with the tense music school drama “Whiplash” and the symphonic love story “La La Land,” director Damien Chazelle has created another remarkable adventure. With tremendous personal insight, it re-creates the story of Neil Armstrong, who commanded 1969’s Apollo 11 lunar landing and made the first human footprint on the moon.

Ryan Gosling portrays Armstrong as a strong, silent, no-nonsense workaholic, in a deeply internal performance that digs down to the man’s bone marrow. From his origin as a test pilot, through his years of training as NASA’s first civilian astronaut candidate, we see him as a man who reacts to endless work and near-disaster setbacks with spartan stoicism. Stresses that would drive most people to exhaustion and burnout powered Armstrong.

While other names from NASA history appear in the film, notably Corey Stoll as fellow Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin and Kyle Chandler as spaceman turned administrator Deke Slayton, Gosling’s Armstrong is something of a lone wolf. Aldrin tells jokes at press conferences; Armstrong remains aloof. He’s even an arm’s length away from his wife, Janet (Claire Foy of “The Crown,” who’s excellent), and their two young boys.

The only moments we see Armstrong relaxed are when he thinks of his daughter Karen, who died in 1968, less than 3 years old, of brain cancer. The little girl’s death is undeniably a tragedy that made him suffer deep anguish, but not a thing he could express openly. Gosling, who is as revealing in suggestive silence as he is in energetic dialogue, handles Armstrong’s terse personality with unspoken understanding.

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As the spirited Janet, Foy is more demonstrative. She offers a key to understanding what brought these two forceful personalities together and kept them united when it was clear that space flight might make her a widow.

In parts, this is familiar ground. The space race of the 1960s, with the United States working full speed to surpass the Soviet Union’s early lead into orbit, has already given us two suitably epic fact-based feature films: Philip Kaufman’s “The Right Stuff,” which Tom Wolfe adapted from his bestseller, and Ron Howard’s “Apollo 13.”

“First Man” repeats some commonplace details but takes the saga further. It adds to the story’s bravery and horrific accidents a sense of emotional intimacy to the people committed to the program. It has, in its narrative, deep-space destinations.

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The film is a masterpiece of visual design and sound engineering, making viewers feel as if they are right there in the shuddering rocket as it pushes itself beyond gravity or uncontrollably rotating as an accidental thruster blast makes it a violent hyper-speed gyroscope. Its stark imagery of the moon’s endless gray isolation is haunting.

But the movie’s real achievement comes through the moments in the Armstrong home. So much is expressed through so little being said. Perhaps the most outstanding scene comes when he packs to leave for the moon mission without telling his two boys that their daddy might not be coming back. It’s amplified by a parallel passage where Ciarán Hinds, playing space center director Robert Gilruth, reads a solemn eulogy prepared for the president to present if the nation’s goals and dreams only yield two lifeless men on a distant rock.

The film has earned some detractors’ criticism by neglecting to show the American flag being planted on the moon. That specific moment isn’t needed for “First Man” to stir patriotic feelings. It features President John F. Kennedy’s 1962 challenge for the nation to send humans to the moon and safely back: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

The film shows how hard it was to develop the program that enabled us to travel that amazing long road, what it cost in terms of funding and heroism and lives. In that moving context, waving a banner seems superfluous. Adaption thanks: Colin Covert

Buzz Aldrin Weighs In on the Controversy Over First Man’s Flags

Senator Marco Rubio calling the omission “total lunacy” (get it?) after it was first reported by The Telegraph. And now, one of the guys who was actually there has offered his two cents.

Buzz Aldrin, the second human being ever to set foot on the moon, tweeted a pair of pictures on Saturday night of himself and his Apollo crew members standing around the newly erected flag on the moon (or artfully arranged on Stanley Kubrick’s set, depending on your stance on popular conspiracy theories).

Although he didn’t reference the controversy outright, his tweet includes various hashtags, such as “#proudtobeanAmerican,” “#freedom” and “#onenation.” We hear you loud and clear, Buzz.

Mr Aldrin was reportedly not invited to an advanced screening of the film, which is due for release on October 12 in the US.

The Lunar Module Pilot on the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 has become the latest to voice his displeasure at the film, with a post on Twitter that showed a still from footage of himself and mission commander Mr Armstrong planting the flag.

Along with the pictures, Mr Aldrin wrote the captions “Proud to be an American”, Freedom” and “One Nation”. His unhappiness with the $70m (£54m) film was also followed by criticism from Chuck Yeager, who became the first pilot to break the sound barrier in level flight in 1974.

He took to Twitter to rubbish a suggestion that Mr Armstrong was portrayed as a “liberal progressive, anti-Trump (in spirit) non-flag waver”, by writing: “That’s not the Neil Armstrong I knew.” Mr Gosling, who won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for La La Land in 2017, sparked new controversy at the Venice Film Festival last week by suggesting that Mr Armstrong had not regarded himself as an “American hero”.

Those comments and the ongoing criticism of the missing moment of the US flag on the moon have also spread to a number of leading US politicians.

Betty Grissom, widow of astronaut Virgil ‘Gus’ Grissom, dies at 91

Betty Grissom, who successfully sued a NASA contractor after her husband, Virgil “Gus” Grissom, and two other astronauts died in the 1967 Apollo launchpad fire, died Oct. 7 at her home in Houston. She was 91.

Her son Mark Grissom confirmed the death to the Associated Press but did not give a precise cause.

Betty Moore and Gus Grissom met in high school in the southern Indiana city of Mitchell and married in 1945. She worked as a late-night phone operator to help pay for his schooling at Purdue University, and he went on to become one of the seven original Mercury astronauts.

In July 1961, he became the second American in space. But after his successful 15-minute suborbital flight, he nearly drowned when his capsule landed in the Atlantic Ocean and sank after the hatch blew off prematurely.

Gus Grissom was 40 when he died Jan. 27, 1967, along with fellow astronauts Roger Chaffee and Ed White, when an electrical fire broke out inside the Apollo 1 command module during testing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

During his days as a test pilot, Grissom would tell his wife, “If I die, have a party.” The party was never held. She told her friends that she had “already died 100,000 deaths” living with a test pilot and astronaut.

Left widowed with two sons, she filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Apollo program’s prime contractor, North American Rockwell, and inspired the other widows to do the same. She won a $350,000 settlement in 1972 that would be worth nearly $3 million today if adjusted for inflation, said Ronald D. Krist, the Houston lawyer who handled the case.

Survivors include her sons, Mark Grissom and Scott Grissom, and two grandchildren.

Despite criticism from some within NASA over the lawsuit, Krist said, Ms. Grissom was determined to proceed with her quest for compensation for her husband’s death.

“What she did wasn’t the most popular thing that a NASA widow could do, but she nevertheless felt that her husband’s life was taken needlessly,” Krist told the Associated Press. “She got nasty notes from some of the executives at NASA, but she kept steadfast in her beliefs and showed a lot of courage and grit. She never wavered.”

For more than 25 years, Ms. Grissom attended annual memorial services at the launch site where her husband died. “I don’t want any of this forgotten,” she told the New York Times last year, at what she said was probably her last visit to the site. Her husband, she noted, had made it possible for subsequent Apollo astronauts to reach the moon. “I’m pretty sure he got to the moon before they did,” she said. “Of course, he didn’t make it, but in spirit I think he was already there.”

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