ashersmith’s review published on Letterboxd:
First Man is one of those films that you can appreciate objectively but were never really able to get into. As far as biopics go, it is hands down one of the best, no questions asked. The cinematography is beautiful and Damian avoids the usual cliches that come with the genre on every level. Upon rewatch, I was able to zone in on all the nuances and brilliant touches that Damian added. I was incredibly impressed with how unlike (in a good, unique way) La La Land this one was. On the heels of such a massively successful film it might’ve been easy to “plagiarize” in a sense some of the tones and feels of La La Land. Instead this film had its own life.
Okay so down to what really killed this movie for me. The first time around I thought it was just me nitpicking and being OCD but this time it really got to me. But. The problem is, the camera work is soo freaking shaky. Like it gave me such a bad headache. Okay so you know me, I have nothing against shaky camera work. Heck I love myself a good shaky action scene or a POV. It gives footage an intense raw feel...it really encapsulates you into the moment. But there reaches a point where you just want a second to breathe. JUST ONE FRAME to gather your thoughts and let the movie sink in. I’m a bit thinker, and when I can’t process a movie, after a point I just get overwhelmed and shut off (yeah I know we had the very refreshing moon sequence but only after like 2 hours of endless nausea). I just never really thought the way the camera was handled could take the enjoyment out of a film for me.
No shade on Damien or people who like this flick though. Like I see where you’re coming from and I see what he was doing and I love his vision. He gave some great food for thought, it just woulda been kinda nice if I had time to digest.