‘Dark Waters’ wants to be the next ‘Spotlight,’ but this ain’t it

This is Mark Ruffalo’s movie. The lifelong activist picked up on the New York Times Magazine story and worked with Bilott directly in the making of it. His desperate performance is one of the only things propping Dark Waters up. Images courtesy Focus Features.

3/10 Dark Waters is by no means a bad movie, but it isn’t good, and it seems to know and be weirdly self-conscious about that.

Dark Waters, based on the New York Times Magazine Article “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare” by Nathaniel Rich, tells the true story of lawyer Rob Bilott (Mark Ruffalo, who also produces), a Cincinnati lawyer who spent 20 years litigating and shining a light on the hazardous dumping of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) by DuPont Industries. PFOA is used in the production of Teflon, the space-age non-stick cooking surface that was one of DuPont’s most popular products. Through litigation, Bilott produced a study linking PFOA exposure to six chronic health conditions, including kidney and testicular cancer, and produced documents proving DuPont had discovered these correlations in its own employees decades ago, but had declined to change their business practices because Teflon was making them so much money.

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‘Queen and Slim’ a haunting story of black love, identity

Image courtesy Universal Pictures.

9/10 Queen and Slim is highly topical, but so powerful that it rises above its tight ties to its moment in time.

In Queen and Slim, a pair of relative strangers driving home from a Tinder date (Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya) are pulled over and given a hard time by a cop (Sturgill Simpson). The officer opens fire and is killed in the ensuing scuffle. Instantly the subjects of a nationwide manhunt, the pair drives from Ohio to Louisiana and then to Florida, determining that their only hope to make it to Cuba.

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‘Knives Out’ is a fucking blast

The Knives Out marketing campaign has honed in brilliantly on all its best elements. Full cast photos like this become stilted family portraits. Images courtesy Lionsgate.

9/10 I had the chance to see Knives Out for free and couldn’t wait for the chance to pay to see it again. It is so much fun. It’s a kind of fun I’d almost given up on having in a movie theater.

Knives Out opens the morning after the apparent suicide of Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), a wealthy mystery novelist who celebrated his 85th birthday the previous evening with his entire extended family. The death seems cut-and-dry, but with Harlan’s $60 million fortune and publishing empire hanging in the balance, private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) sees a kaleidoscope of possible motives for son-in-law Richard Drysdale (Don Johnson), his son Ransom Drysdale (Chris Evans), widowed daughter-in-law Joni Thrombey (Toni Collette) or youngest son Walt Thrombey (Michael Shannon) to have done Harlan in, and all of them immediately start lying. Blanc’s only assistance comes from Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas), Harlan’s nurse from a non-descript South American country, who suffers from a condition that causes her to vomit uncontrollably when she tells a lie.

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‘Honey Boy’ enumerates, hopefully concludes LaBeouf’s long troubles

Image courtesy Amazon Studios.

Honey Boy is a decent movie as a viewer, but it’s not for viewers. It’s for Shia LaBeouf.

Honey Boy is LaBeouf’s autobiographical retelling of his childhood stardom and abuse at the hands of his father, Jeffrey, and his troubled adulthood as he developed into a leading man who struggled with alcoholism and was often arrested for public drunkenness. It tells this story through fictional child star Otis Lort (Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges) straddled between 1995 and 2005, which roughly correspond to LaBeouf’s time on Even Stevens at the turn of the century through his second stint in rehab in 2017, which is when he started writing the film. During the scenes set in the ‘00s, a rage-filled older Lort goes through court-ordered rehab. During the scenes set in the ‘90s, a pre-teen Lort is terrorized by his father, James (LaBeouf, who also writes and produces).

No one but LaBeouf himself really knows how much of the movie is real. Here’s a firm breakdown of what’s public knowledge.

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‘21 Bridges’ deftly navigates tightrope of action, social pitfalls

Boseman isn’t playing the King of Wakanda in the movie – though he’s functionally a superhero when the gunfire starts – but he’s the king of every room he walks into. He makes Davis into a brilliant demonstration of his own charisma with his body language assumption of his own authority. Images courtesy STXfilms.

8/10 Is 21 Bridges exploitative? Is it cop-friendly propaganda? It’s a damn good action movie, is what it is.

In 21 Bridges, two hired assassins, Michael Trujillo and Ray Jackson (Stephan James and Taylor Kitsch), kill eight NYPD officers in a very strange cocaine heist. They duo discovers much more cocaine than they were prepared to move and is met by multiple cops who seem to have just been in the area. Lead detective Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman) determines that Trujillo and Jackson almost immediately crossed into Manhattan after the robbery, which takes place around 1 a.m. In order to keep the FBI or state police from taking over the investigation, Davis orders the entire borough closed, giving himself four hours to hunt the killers down before the financial capital of the world reopens.

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