Hidden Figures – The, eh, “hidden figures” of the 2016 Oscars

Hidden Figures is the best movie of 2016 that won’t win any Oscars because it has black women in the leading roles.

And that sucks because it deserves something. Even if Hidden Figures isn’t the Best Picture of 2016, it’s the movie that 2016 needed the most.

Does that make sense? Sounds like some Dark Knight shit but I can assure you that it’s not. Going into four years where Hidden Figures may become a reality again (except with less 60’s aesthetic) necessitates a film that is as blunt and no-nonsense with its message as Hidden Figures.

And now is where I bash the bad parts of this movie, which I am loathe to do in case alt-righters come here and take random parts of my review out of context. DISCLAIMER: I love this movie. To anyone reading this review, if you see some Milo Yogurtopolis tweet about how NCB hates this movie using one of the pretentious quotes below, let me know and I will come down on that bitch.

Hidden Figures‘s biggest detriment is its writing problems. I understand the argument of the white savior character’s presence in this movie, but at the same time I feel that it is somewhat realistic. Yes, it is white men who ultimately give the black women their permission to do things, but it was the black womens’ guff and strength that convinced the white men that they were worth something. Furthermore, there are enough scenes of white dudes being assholes to counterbalance this.

More notable is that none of the three main characters, Katherine, Dorothy, and Mary, get enough time for themselves. The film struggles to properly give each woman the attention she deserves. The romantic arc is also kind of unnecessary and its presence reeks of patriarchy. There is one particularly awkward cut that threw me off, where the three ladies are preparing for Katherine’s wedding and it immediately cuts to the NASA mission control room and someone goes running to fetch her. This cut gave me the impression that this white man was going to burst into a black church during a wedding and I was on the edge of my seat for the movie moment I never new I wanted but suddenly needed.

This is a good segue into the best part of the film, though: The scenes where Henson, Spencer, and Monáe get to just play off of each other. These three have some of the best screen chemistry I’ve ever seen and they absolutely make this movie.

Also this movie’s aesthetic is fucking on point.

Final Recommendation: Yes. It’s 2017 and diversity in filmmaking is what America needs more than ever. I don’t care if La La Land is the best movie of the year, it’s just white people doing shallow white people things and you can see that literally anywhere. Watch Hidden Figures.

~NCB

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Rogue One – Tied Down by Franchising

Because my job is awesome, I got to see Rogue One today with my work squad. I honestly wasn’t planning on watching this unless the WHS group wanted to go as a group, but I did watch it and it was… pretty good! But this is an NCB review so I can’t let this movie get away unscathed.

First of all, I liked a lot of the stuff this movie did. It distances itself (relatively, at least) from the “main plot” of the Star Wars franchise, which can only be a good thing. It does a lot of unusual stuff for a big tentpole movie, like emphasis to dying people and moral ambiguity when it comes to its terrorist metaphors. It packs diversity and an ensemble cast, which is a pretty ambitious thing to attempt, even if your eventual goal is to turn them all into action figures (except the girl, who is the ensemble lead, ironically…)

But the film is restricted by its existence in the Star Wars universe. The writing often feels scattered and inconsistent, jumping rapidly from Serious Business to Avengers-level snarking. The ensemble cast is fun but mishandled; nobody, not even Felicity Jones, is given quite enough time to flesh out their character properly. There is just too much going on.

A big part of this problem is, like I said, the fact that Rogue One is shackled to the parent franchise. By necessity, the movie has to drop the word “hope” once every 10 minutes to foreshadow a movie that’s been out for nearly 40 years. Much like Halo: Reach, which is probably way more similar than you’d like to think, the conclusion of this movie is forgone, which robs the film of a lot of weight. A prequel has to be interesting in the events that happen, and while Rogue One is indeed that, it needlessly wastes time in many places by pretending that there is a “maybe” in any situation where we know there isn’t.


I can’t say that Rogue One is bad, and I can’t even say that you shouldn’t see it, because it’s quite good. But, much like with Pixar or Quentin Tarantino, please please PLEASE don’t give it more credit than it deserves. It’s got a lot of flaws and most of them come from the fact that it’s a Star Wars movie. But this story wouldn’t be sold if it wasn’t a Star Wars movie. So go out sometime and take a chance on an obscure movie that seems interesting to you.

~NCB

Manchester By The Sea – Casey Affleck is my Spirit Animal

I guess now that I’m writing reviews again I have to watch an indie movie too, huh? This one came highly recommended by my buddy Brandon over at Third Rail, so I went to see it and it made me cry.

This movie has a complicated relationship with emotions, and that’s really cool, because so does everybody in the world. On a surface level, this film is classical pretentious indie. That’s fine, because let’s be honest, that’s what this movie is. It’s a moody, atmospheric experience with nonlinear moments that are framed without any pomp or circumstance to deliberately confuse people who aren’t paying 100% attention. Yes, there are dead family members and dead children and the film goes out of its way to be depressing.

But behind all the pretension, there is a very heartfelt emotional core behind this movie. It’s the story of a man who doesn’t quite know how to cope with grief, and this struggle is compounded by the fact that now the world has all these demands of him in the wake of the tragedy that’s hit him.

This movie will make you cry and you won’t even know why, and it’s really good. Go watch it.
~NCB

(This review is kind of crappy because I still cry a little when I think about it)

Doctor Strange – Formality at its Finest

God damn has it been a long time since I’ve written anything on here. I’ve been very busy with my new job at HiRez and classes and papers and whatnot. Fortunately, the semester is winding down, and I went out and saw this trippy-ass movie and figured “what the hell, I’ll write about it.”

So, Doctor Strange.

No, not that one.

There we go, the one that I’ve been putting in the production studio to scare the fuck out of Toliy.

I want to start out by saying that Doctor Strange is a lot of fun. Crazy effects, good production design, this film is an overall good popcorn flick, whitewashing notwithstanding. It’s a good movie to take a group of random friends to, especially if you guys are on drugs.

Unfortunately, that’s all there is to it. The film neglects every possible formal element for the sake of having fun, and does it in a way that makes you OK with it. That’s because telling this story is not the point of this film. The only point of this film is to set up the titular doctor for the next Avengers movie, and that’s annoying to me. For my comic books class we watched Captain America 1, and even that movie went out of its way to make sure Cap got his character development time. Doctor Strange runs through all the important narrative information to get to the fun stuff as soon as it can, because that’s all it’s got, because its one goal is to set up the next Avengers. And Civil War proved that you don’t even need to give characters their own movie to do that, so why fucking bother?


Except, that important narrative information is how we get invested in the character.

In fact, this entire film is self-defeating on that front because WE KNOW he’s going to win because WE KNOW there’s a million other Marvel films in the pipeline. I remember sitting in the theater when the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy 2 came on and everyone freaked out when they saw baby Groot and I was like “YOU KNEW HE WAS COMING BACK IN THE PREVIOUS MOVIE!!

I really don’t want to recommend Doctor Strange to you. I guess I can, but there’s no real reason for you to see it. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before and financially supporting this movie does nothing to benefit film as a whole. Save your money for Black Panther instead, so you can support nonwhite casting.

~NCB

P.S.: I promise I have been working on other things. There’s been a lot to worry about. I’m starting to think about publishing comics via KickStarter instead of publishing them on the web, that way I can put a bigger proof-of-concept up there and you don’t have to be sitting on the edges of your seats waiting for updates from me.

Swiss Army Man: Classic Narrative meets Fart Jokes

I PROMISED YOU GUYS TWO REVIEWS THIS WEEKEND! HERE IS THE FIRST!!

Swiss Army Man is the most recent darlingest of Cannes’ indie darlings, a weird movie with Daniel Radcliffe in it about a… dead… corpse-dude. Whose body has weird superpowers. The promotional material makes that much very clear but not much else and that’s why, much like Overwatch, I was sucked into the hype-train following for this movie. I ended up going with Ann the night I got back from Ohio, but then I got super trashed that night and totally forgot to write a review for it.

I guess I’ll cut straight to the chase, since if you’re reading this you’re probably waiting for me to ream this movie. The fact of the matter is, there’s not much to the film besides the weirdness and absurdist comedy.

That in and of itself is admirable, I think. It’s crazy to think that a movie about a dead man with jet-powered farts can draw you into its narrative, but that is what Swiss Army Man manages to do. As the title of this review may indicate, because at least as of writing this sentence I couldn’t think of something cleverer, Swiss Army Man takes the fundamental essence of narrative and boils it down, and then takes that and puts it in an 8-year-old’s book of Mad Libs.

The characters and their stories aren’t particularly interesting or clever, and the plotline is merely the Hero’s Journey with no special modifiers whatsover. The most shocking thing that this film does is get you to like it. It’s a movie that I would normally be ripping limb from limb… But I liked it! I got invested in the characters and giggled uncontrollably in spite of myself.

Swiss Army Man gets a recommendation for anyone interested in narrative design. No film will demonstrate to you better that you don’t need flashy special effects or a convoluted Game of Thrones plot spanning fifty characters across thousands of square miles of land to get an audience emotionally invested. All you need is a little bit of twisted creativity. And I guess Daniel Radcliffe helps too.
~NCB

Undertale:

I initially wrote out a full review of this game. But then I read over it and it really didn’t do the game justice. Zach is always going on about how Fallout 4 is an experience? Fuck that noise. You haven’t experienced an experience until you’ve experienced Undertale.

I guess the one real statement I can make is to give it time. Be patient. Let your own intuition carry you through it.

You may have noticed that this entire review is a link. It goes to the Steam store page, and if you haven’t clicked it by now and bought it you should get on that, because you deserve to play Undertale.
~NCB

P.S.: I know that this is cheating. I’ll have a real review for you tomorrow.

P.P.S.: Why are you still here and not playing Undertale?