Dark Waters – compelling tale of corporate mismanagement


Mark Ruffalo (not Gruffalo as I often think) brings a great story of grit and the rule of law to the screen.

What I really liked about this film is that it seems grounded in reality. Progress is painfully slow at times. People are affected by the events. The passage of time has effects on everyone. And still the battle continues.

What I also liked was the perspective. The lawyers make the point that corporations are entities, people, in their own right. And they should behave like friends. Sometimes they don’t. Whether there manipulated by politics, greed, or just careless or badly-behaves people they must still be bound by the law. In the final settlement DuPont paid out something like $700m. Several times, the point was made that profit on C8-related products was $1b/year. Yet the first settlements, several years after the start of cases, were <$10m. Sure, $10m is a huge sum for any regular person. But it is a rounding error in yearly profits of $1b.

The film portrayed regular people, principled lawyers, and a corporation that seemed like someone who denies wrongdoing until the evidence is overwhelming and then peels off $10 from their briefcase of money to compensate you.

This is in the same vein as Silkwood, Erin Brockavich, and similar David Vs Goliath legal battle stories. Well worth seeing.

Seems DuPont, 3M, and others knew that perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA aka ‘C8’) was injurious to health from in vivo and human experiments from early on in its production. And evidence built that PFOA accumulates in biological systems. With this evidence available they continued to pollute the air, water, and land around the Washington works plant, VA.

Where this story really works is in the human element: a farmer asks the grandson of a neighbor for legal help. The grandson grudgingly obliges. As he uncovers inconsistencies, omissions, and loopholes in the documents he reviews he increasingly supports the case.

Eventually, his legal partners work with him and the battle for justice gains momentum.

Parasite 8/10


Weird, I saw Parasite at a Cineworld preview and thought I’d put a review up. Seems not. I’d rated it 8/10 on IMDB but not written anything.

Great movie. Go see it. Not sure it should’ve beaten Joker at the academy awards but that’s a different argument.

The characterisation and the boldness of the poor characters is excellent. The separation from ‘normal’ life of the wealthy characters is similarly well done and credible.

What made it real fun was the tension of ‘will they be found out’ and then the farcical components of…well that might be a spoiler.

Had it been a British movie I think folks might have ‘seen it before’. As it is, the novelty of Korea and the exoticism of the society brings a fresh perspective and makes this a bold, exciting, and very funny movie.

Birds of Prey 6/10


Hard not to like Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. The story is a relatively mundane mashup of elements like heartbreak, revenge, theft, and the like. All combined with a difficult-at-times mix of surprisingly harsh violence, wackiness, and comedy.

It’s fast and entertaining but is perhaps a bit lighthearted and comic-like rather than comic book compared to other DC movies. Admittedly, most of those are poor at best so this is an achievement.

Some elements are great. The fairground showdown is a great mix of cartoon and grim violence and choreography.

Some elements are terrible. Ewan mcgregor as ‘black mask’ for example. There’s a good Begbie-like unpredictable note of viciousness. But only now and again. Most of the time it’s more Robbie Rotten. Victor Zsasz? More like ‘moody henchman’.

The rest of the Birds of Prey aren’t made enough of. The exposition from Harley is helpful, but we don’t get to gauge how reliable it is. some of the BoP action is a bit low-budget-TV which doesn’t suit the good cast and potential for outlandish mayhem that would be possible. Huntress and the bike-car chase could’ve been more engaging. There’s a really constrained feeling to all the scenes. This works in the club for example, but some of the street scenes reminded me of Batman (Michael Keaton): OK, but more impressionist than realist.

It’s an OK movie. Worth watching for some fun scenes and Margot Robbie as Harley.

If you liked suicide squad this is a step-up, but similarly pitched. Otherwise, you might give it a go but think generously.

Dolittle 5/10 some fun, a lot of ok


Emma Thompson as the parrot-narrator is a nice touch. But the level of exposition for the background and the ongoing story is a bit much even for a children’s movie.

Accents. Oh dear. RDJ gives Dolittle an accent that might be Welsh but perhaps is more a ‘cross-Celtic transatlantic fusion’? Still, he keeps it within about 20% of it’s starting point throughout. Much of his dialog seemed a little disconnected from the picture. Not sure if this was syncing or post-production drop-in work. Irrespective he gave a nice portrayal of an eccentric recluse who wants to help despite his personal grief.

The baddies were suitably small-children-film-friendly. Fiendish and ridiculous. Michael sheen was a fun dick dastardly type. Jim broadbent was a bit OTT but fitted the film.

The animals. Mmm some great animation and the animal-speak / human-speak bits were done nicely. There was a bit too much anthropomorphism though. Animals moving in ways that weren’t quite right. Hey, it’s a children’s film so accuracy isn’t its main thing.

It had the same problems most children’s films have: beginning and middle too too long with a quick resolution at the end. And some of the audience was restless as some things dragged on.

OK and worth catching on TV/streaming with young children.

The Rhythm Section – 5/10


Like the pilot episode of a TV series that wasn’t commissioned.

The two leads (Blake Lively, Jude Law) do a fair job with a bag of cliches stitched together into what seems a slightly credible picture of day-to-day spy-asset management.

The signposting of later events and ‘twists’ could only have been more obvious if there’s been a fourth-wall-break at each point. ‘Expect a reprise of this kitchen-based fight where the protagonist applies the lesson learned’, ‘look, deadly snake toxin in a syringe’ and so on.

Like many current ‘intelligence service’ like films this one features a lot of locations. Seems getting a reduced carbon footprint doesn’t apply if you’re on a mission for cold revenge. It also makes for lazy elision of events in the transition.

Despite the cold-turkey, the Rocky-style training events (though no montage-a missed cliche) the protagonist does not emerge totally awesome. Each mission/contract goes awry in a different way. I liked this. But a dash of realism on top of the rest can’t save this movie from being generally weak. Shame, as it had elements of several respectable movies in it.

Ignore it and hope no one tries to resurrect the idea for a one-season streaming series where U17 was only the front man for a deeper conspiracy that affects every subsequent contract Stephanie takes on.

1917 relentless, pointless, predictable 6/10


Some remarkable depictions of grisly war scenes. And a very human scale to measure the enormity of some of the parts of this bit of a bigger battle in a bigger war.

The ‘single shot’ style, or whatever, and the filming of one run of events in a larger theatre of play makes for a limited narrative. Like the early days of cinema, it shows effectively one perspective. Not that engaging for an audience brought up with quick cuts, multiple perspectives, and simultaneous yet separate events.

Predictable? Like a teen horror flick predictable. Makes M N Shyamalan look like a master of cunning and surprise.

Pointless? As a cinematic event, somewhat. As events in a war, apparently – the benedict cumberbatch character says as much.

It is relentless. Even when the remaining messenger has almost faded with fatigue and stress he keeps on going. Thankfully in a more human way than many glossy Hollywood thriller hero-types.

It’s a story. It’s not that well told. It’s long, oh so long. And it is both surprisingly and reassuringly anticlimactic.

I can’t really recommend it.

I rated a good day in the neighbourhood 8/10


I saw this as yet another Cineworld Unlimited preview.

It’s slow. It’s cautious. It’s really good.

How come the USA got Fred Rogers and the UK got Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris?

The premise of an investigational journalist doing an interview with USA nice guy Mr Rogers is excellent. That it is based on a true story is even better.

This has to be one of the best films I’ve seen Tom Hanks in since Big. He is amazing as the calm and delightful Mr Rogers.

The misanthropic nature of the journalist fits the zeitgeist and works very well.

This is a delightful, slow, film that is well worth seeing.

I rated Jo Jo Rabbit 8/10 on IMDB


Hilarious and harrowing. This is a brilliant movie with some excellent acting and writing.

The NAZI terror is almost tangible in the early part of the movie. And apparent part way through.

The emergent friendship between NAZI-enthusiast youth and the Jewish girl hidden in his eaves is telling: understand that we have more in common than we have in difference and we do more together than apart.

The characters illustrate the many beliefs that fuel war and are notable by the excellent acting and portrayal.

The imaginary Hitler friend is a surprisingly effective metaphor for maturity. As Hitler’s divisive nonsense fades in influence we see Jo Jo grow as a boy to a man. I’d worried that this movie might show Hitler as some sort of strong man. Thankfully it paints him as the ludicrous character he really was and modern-day ideologues appear to be.

This is a remarkable film that is well worth seeing.