Dark Waters


Mark Ruffalo plays real life corporate attorney Rob Bilott in this true story about Dupont Chemicals Company’s atrocious poisoning of the farming community of Parkersburg, West Virginia over a period of decades. Through a series of unlikely connections, Bilott exposed and brought to account the largest chemical company of its day.

Ruffalo also steps into the Producer role for this film, with co-star Anne Hathaway as Bilott’s wife Sarah. Tim Robbins plays Bilott’s reluctantly supportive boss Tom Terp, who becomes crucial to the eventual success of Bilott’s extensive research.

The use of several actual characters from the community that were poisoned by Dupont’s blockbuster product called Teflon, lends the film additional credibility. One baby, born disfigured from the effects of “C-8” in the drinking water and on the production line where a number of pregnant women worked, appears as an adult late in the film.

This is not a wild ride or even that exciting, but throughout the film you hope for a happy ending for Bilott, whose marriage suffers, and for the residents of the town who come to blame Bilott for suing their largest employer. There is harassment of several key individuals and tension among the partners at the law firm where Bilott works.

The data mining done to ensure “medical monitoring” is guaranteed in the lawsuit sets a precedent for discovery, analyzed for over seven years and resulting in six key linkages to disease states with over 3500 victims. The final credits reveal that the chemical in question is now present in 99 per cent of Americans at some level, and it never leaves the body – a “forever” chemical.

Interesting stuff, frustrating to watch when power, money and greed align to get in the way of humanity and Bilott is left feeling that no one, companies, governments or agencies support the people. Only the people do.

Ruffalo looks bloated and soft spoken for this part, which we have to assume is appropriate. The story is well told, difficult at times due to the extensive covering up of information and what Bilott has to endure to sift through a deliberate burial in records reluctantly provided by the Dupont attorneys.

We watched this on Amazon Prime for $5.99. It’s another movie that we saw previewed before the pandemic and had planned to see in the theater. Well worth watching at home.

 

Dark Waters (2019) runs 2 hours, 6 minutes and is rated PG-13

Should I see this movie?  

The King of Staten Island

Perhaps I can save you twenty dollars. This is my second review of a Pete Davidson film in a month. And I have a feeling that when I think back I’ll get the two confused. This one is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Davidson has already been typecast as a twenty-something stoner who lacks desire and direction. His current movie could be a sequel to his role in Big Time Adolescence, though that film ended lacking a sense of closure when it came to his main character. You mean he stays that way?

Yet I can’t help admiring his wit and real life achievements. How does an emotionally damaged, sickly looking twenty year old become a regular on Saturday Night Live? He has an endearing quality and an openness about his problems that makes you worry about him. Perhaps Ariana Grande thought she could fix him when they were briefly a couple.

Those qualities factor heavily into the character that has emerged in his two films to date. The latest, produced by Judd Apatow, who gave us Bridesmaids, Knocked Up, The Forty Year Old Virgin, Superbad and The Big Sick brought a level of raunchiness to modern movies that now seems normal.

Davidson plays Scott, an aspiring tattoo artist whose own body could be a sample book for tats. His fireman father died seventeen years earlier. It becomes clear that he draws his identity from that loss and has never fully grieved or moved on. Little sister is headed off to college, the pride of her family, and mother Marisa Tomei is left grieving and stuck in a home that is part shrine to the late husband and shelter for her floundering twenty-four year old son. When Mom begins dating again, the new family mobile is sent jangling and Scott is sent packing.

Scott’s delayed coming of age takes up the remainder of this overly long movie. Staten Island features prominently, both in the movie’s title and in conversation among the film’s desperate Millennials. But Scott is lost, chronologically and geographically, and in that respect the title is a misnomer.

There are some good laughs, Davidson style, throughout the film. There are also lots of uncomfortable moments thanks to Scott’s excessive truthfulness. But the film ends suddenly, as if to say, ok everything is better now, aaaannnd cut!

 

The King of Staten Island (2020) runs 2 hours, 16 minutes and is rated R.

Should I see this movie?  

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

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