Movie: Hidden Figures, directed by Theodore Melfi
Hidden Figures is the rousing true story of three African-American women (played with maximum warmth and badassery by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae) who were vital to the success of NASA’s programs at the height of the space race, who did their jobs at a time when racism was the law in the United States. At a time when reality has come to mirror dystopian YA narratives, I think Hidden Figures should be shown to all schoolchildren. The future is full of possibilities, kids, no matter what the grown-ups say.
This is the kind of movie that makes you regret not paying attention to your math teachers. “If only I’d put in the effort instead of having out of body experiences in pre-calculus,” I heard myself say. And then I remembered that I am mediocre in math, unlike my classmates who were snoring in their seats when they were called on by the teacher, and then went to the board, derived the formula, and solved the problem correctly. I can grasp the concepts well enough if they are explained to me in words, and sometimes I can intuit the answer but I could not tell you how I arrived there to save my life. But there’s always a need for popularizers, and if you have to make science sound romantic, email me.
Book: So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood by Patrick Modiano
I thought I’d read Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence before watching the movie by Martin Scorsese, but gave it up at page 40 because I have no appetite for suffering right now, esp. suffering for one’s beliefs. Someday I’ll pick it up again—it took me several attempts to get through Jane Eyre (because I could not see why she’d go for that).
So I ended up reading another short novel about remembering stuff you forgot and then wondering if you are yourself: So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood by Patrick Modiano. It reads like his other novels, so I started wondering if I’d already read it and just forgot. It starts with the narrator, a writer, getting a phone call from a stranger who says he found the writer’s address book. The writer didn’t even notice he’d lost the address book, and he doesn’t need it, but he agrees to meet the stranger and get it back. The stranger is very curious about one of the names in the address book, but the writer cannot remember who that person is and why he has his number. The thick plottens, the stranger’s associate insinuates herself into the writer’s life, and then the writer starts remembering the individual in question…It’s melancholy, and haunting, and you are transported to some grotty little café in Pigalle where it’s always raining and everyone looks like they’re pondering the meaning of existence even if they’re just trying to split the tab. France, your elections are coming up, in the words of Princess Leia, you’re my only hope.
I’ve been steeling myself for days, and tomorrow I’m going to watch Logan.