Lacking confidence in Damien Chazelle’s “First Man”

Are you excited? It’s going to be an action film!

Boston Globe had a write-up which quoted “First Man” screenwriter Josh Singer.

Here’s an excerpt:

Singer, who won, along with Tom McCarthy, the Academy Award for best original screenplay for “Spotlight,” is emphatic that “First Man” is not a biopic. First and foremost, he says, it’s an action film. That’s what Chazelle, the Rhode Island native who won the best director Oscar for “La La Land,” wanted so that’s what Singer delivered.

“Damien had a very clear vision from the outset. He said, ‘Can we get across how challenging this was? Can we get across the visceral nature of this?’ The space program has been depicted, tonally, on the softer side in the past,” said Singer. “Damien said, ‘I want to be terrified the entire time.’ It’s one of the earliest things we talked about. Neil’s heroism isn’t because he landed on the moon, it’s because he had the wherewithal to live through it all.

Listen, I agree whole-heartedly that “astronaut” films have been “soft.” Mankind’s ventures to space, specifically that of Neil Armstrong, are one of the biggest milestones in human history.

“How do we convey that in film?” Chazelle asks himself.

Films like “Apollo 13” and “Gravity” already successfully did this. Space is dangerous. The limitations of modern rocket science is dangerous.

I have little confidence in this film at this time. Biopics are tricky. While Chazelle is batting 1000 after “Whiplash” and “La La Land,” I can’t help but feel he is out of his element here.

It’s probably because the “there’s action in it, we swear!” marketing is as old as time. Also the unfortunate stereotype that action-added to anything, biopic included, tampers the substance.

We’ll see though! I’m definitely bitching and whining too early, but I can’t help but recognize an old familiar pattern.

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