First Man

Space Conformist

An anecdote does not a two and a half‑hour epic make.
Reported on 6th of November, 2018


I hate space, but I love having this unpopular opinion. So much in fact, that even though I know it’s unpopular, that won’t reverse dissuade the rebel against the rebel inside me for not having it.

I’m nothing if not uncomplex.

Well, grammatically, at least.

First Man

28 October 2018 @ The UGC Danton

$0.00 or, if one must be jejune, and one must... 
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆


So First Man, of course I’m going to not care if Mr. Ryan Gosling gets to the moon or not, and, in an historical first, I’m going to agree with the Wife That Complains, who I was grateful to discover only complain once, and was right.

I’m also going to agree with Mr. Gil Scott-Heron and the protesters outside Cape Canaveral signing a nice little ditty, ‘can’t pay no doctor bills / but Whitey’s on the Moon’. I’m going to agree as well with Mr. Kurt Vonnegut, my hero, when he calls going there a bad idea, as he did his whole life, as he did in Sirens of Titan

…and as he does in the vintage footage found for this film. Like Interstellar before it, these anti-moonshot scenes and characters are included as inoculation against the colossally boneheaded idea of going into space to get a few rocks. I’m opposed to this idea because it remains exactly what is: running away.

…but I think it was from Un Dimanche à Paris, right?

But putting my views to the side for one brief second – and to take on some other ones – the addition of these critiques serves only to dilute the film, to make it about everything and thus about nothing.

In the anti-space and thereby plus corner, I loved the frightening aspects of the three sequences shown from the POV of Mr. Gosling. It was clear these were naught but tin cans held together with duct tapes designed and built by people who had never seen or heard of ‘space’. Or ‘tin’ or ‘cans’ for that matter.

That was cool. The harrowing and borderline insane (to be clear, it’s on the other side of the border) of space exploration is sold well. But it needs a hero and a motive worthy of the risk.

Unfortunately, and you see this from the beginning, Mr. Gosling’s incarnation of Armstrong is of a semi-autistic engineer, Haunted By His Daughter’s Death. No doubt this is ‘true’, and it makes an interesting anecdote – didja know that Neil Armstrong wasn’t that into going to the moon? And a bunch of people died and billions spent so we wouldn’t have to think about what it’s like to sit still for four seconds?

Sorry. Moving on…

But an anecdote does not a two and an half-hour epic make, and his character, like Ms. Claire Foy’s flat affect wife, is at odds with attempting to make the story compelling. He is not a worthy adversary to the stupidity and threat of space. I loved Apollo 13 And I hate space. That film has those adversaries, and it just assumes going to space is a good idea. A movie with conflicts, heroes and sequences, Mr. Tom Hanks saying goodbye to the LEM is all of us thanking the inanimate objects that protect us throughout our lives, and I tear up each time.

No such frisson, emotion or relatability in First Man. The combination of the wishy with the washy manages to achieve the impossible: making space flight uncompelling.

What am I talking about? I love this movie!

The Take

The three sequences, @ $3.00 each
Total Profits
All that stuff I said.
What was interesting and depressing was the inclusion of Pres. John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s ‘let’s do it because we can’ speech. It is worthy of analysis as one of the greatest examples of rhetoric ever posed, being that the argument is, like the film, ‘we go to the moon because people say it’s a stupid idea’. Having critics proves you’re right. Which is why so many people liked High Life. After what they read what I have to say about it, that is.


Dropping the dead daughter’s bracelet on the moon is the cheap heartstring pull of a filmmaker who knows they’ve lost the argument and their way. This, I thought, is the guy who wrote Whiplash?
Total Losses


Thoughts on First Man

  1. Heartfire says:

    “Space may be the final frontier but it’s made in a Hollywood basement
    And Cobain can you hear the spheres singing songs off Station To Station?
    And Alderaan’s not far away, it’s Californication…”

    Social programming
    TV reality
    Walt Disney, Stanley Kubrick and that famous ex Nazi filmed that fake moon landings
    The way out is spiritual ascention
    How ya doin

    1. Scott Scott says:

      Stanley Kubrick faked the moon landing, but he got so fed up with the lack of detail, he made NASA take him to the moon to film there. True story.

      I’m good. I’m seeing movies, so I must be!

  2. Dorothée says:

    Typo: An anecdote does not a two and an hour epic make.
    Also, you didn’t mention the sweets, I cannot remember what was smuggled in? Can you?

    1. Scott Scott says:

      Didn’t actually take notes, so no, don’t remember. I actually had to read the typo ten times to see it. Such is my way.

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