Shot entirely on drone. In a single-take. With just one actress. Spanning five vertical locations. The Ascension of Ava Delaine is a technical pioneer in filmmaking from director, Tonya Kay, and is now available on Amazon Prime through Hewes Pictures.
This 5:07 min experimental short film has been called a “Ridiculously Difficult Single-Take Filming By Drone” by SolidSmack tech journal. The Ascension of Ava Delaine also received the honor of Best Mobile Film at the AT&T SHAPE Film Awards – a conference exploring the convergence of technology and entertainment. Director, Tonya Kay, accepted the award which included mentorship with Cathy Yan (director; Birds of Prey), a grand ceremony at Warner Bros Studios and a bountiful cash prize.
Director, Tonya Kay, whom has also been cited as one of StudioDaily’s Exceptional Women in Production and Festigious’s 30 Female Directors to Follow, and who’s work includes tv segment direction for Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! (The CW), also executive produced and acted in the film. Kay says, “Everyone has seen single-takes performed horizontally – even on a drone. I wanted to challenge the technology and give viewers something they’ve truly never witnessed before: a story-based single-take that travels vertically – voyeuristically meeting our actress on a new floor, in new wardrobe, in a new decade of her life, with new emotions in real time.”
On being the actress tasked with four quick-changes while traveling up stairs during the single-take, Kay says, “What you see from the drone front is the movie. What was happening behind those walls was a whirlwind of rambunctious nudity and focused determination.”
The story of The Ascension of Ava Delaine, written by Shaula Evans, is a female empowerment fantasy, non-verbally showing a woman becoming more confident, more sexual and more valuable as she ages. A story not traditionally told in mainstream media.
Producing company, Danger Arts, thought it vital that women tell this story of female empowerment and The Ascension of Ava Delaine crew was 80% female, including virtuoso Cinematographer and Drone Operator, Andria Chamberlin, Sound Designer Jaime Billings, Storyboard Artist Leslie Abney, 1st AD SaraAnne Fahey, Set Designer Monica Kay and Property Master Rachel Bartlett. They were also joined by diverse team including Co-Executive Producer Dennis Ho, Teddy Yonenaka and Michael Kofsky. Post production by Digital Jungle.
The Ascension of Ava Delaine is available now via SVOD on Independent Shorts Awards TV, Opprime and on Amazon Prime.
Stan today announced that every episode of Normal People, the adaptation of Sally Rooney’s best-selling novel, is coming exclusively to Stan on 27 April.
Following Rooney’s critically-acclaimed debut novel Conversations with Friends, she received 2017’s Sunday Times Writer of the Year Award. Normal People was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2018 and recently, it won 2019’s Book of the Year at the British Book Awards. Normal People also entered the New York Times Bestseller list at #3.
Adapted for television by Sally Rooney, alongside writers Alice Birch and Mark O’Rowe, Normal People is a 12-part drama which stars Daisy Edgar-Jones (Cold Feet) as Marianne and newcomer Paul Mescal as Connell, in an exquisite and compulsive modern love story about how two people can profoundly impact each other’s lives.
Normal People tracks the tender but complicated relationship of Marianne and Connell from the end of their school days in small-town West of Ireland to their undergraduate years at Trinity College, Dublin. At school, he’s well-liked and popular, while she’s lonely, proud and intimidating. A strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers – one they are determined to conceal. A year later, they’re both studying in Dublin and Marianne has found her feet in a new social world, but Connell hangs at the side lines, shy and uncertain.
Honest, smart and intoxicating, Normal People sees the pair weave in and out of each other’s lives and explores just how complicated intimacy and young love can be.
Joining the cast are Sarah Greene (Dublin Murders) and Aislín McGuckin (Outlander) alongside some of the most exciting young acting talent in the UK and Ireland.
The series, which is an Element Pictures production for BBC and Hulu, was shot in Dublin, Sligo, Sweden and Italy with Oscar nominated director Lenny Abrahamson (Room) and award-winning director Hettie Macdonald (Howard’s End) sharing the directorial duties.
Every episode of Normal People will be available only on Stan from 27 April – same day as the U.K.
Summary: A group of online friends travel to a Pop Culture convention to try and buy a rare comic they believe can warn them of an upcoming pandemic.
Australian Cinema Release Date: TBA
Thailand Cinema Release Date: TBA
Australian Home Entertainment Release Date: TBA
Country: United States
Director: Toby Haynes
Screenwriter: Ryan Enright, Gillian Flynn
Regular Cast: Deson Borges (Wilson Wilson), Dan Byrd (Ian), John Cusack (Dr. Kevin Christie), Christopher Denham (Arby), Sasha Lane (Jessica Hyde), Ashleigh LaThrop (Becky), Jessica Rothe (Samantha), Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton (Grant), Rainn Wilson (Michael Stearns)
Guest Cast: Josh Bywater (Carson), Rammel Chan (Starweaver/Josh Chandler), Jose Antonio Garcia (Donald Resnick), Jenna Heffernan (Jenny), Dustin Ingram (Tallman), Farrah Mackenzie (Alice), Jeanine Serralles (Colleen), Cory Michael Smith (Thomas Christie), Michael B Woods (Rod)
Running Time: 50 mins
Classification: TBC (Australia) TBC (Thailand)
OUR THE UTOPIA REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Dave Griffiths’ Utopia Review:
They say that art mirrors life and that has never been more true than when it comes to the brand new Amazon Prime series Utopia. The pilot gives us an early glimpse that a new pandemic is about to spread across the globe, yes it could be plucked straight from our headlines at the moment, but what separates Utopia from the hundreds of other pandemic or post-apocalyptic television shows or movies out there is the fact that here the prediction of the pandemic may have already surfaced in a graphic novel of all places.
Utopia centres around a group of four ‘friends’ who have all met online after they realised a pattern in a strange graphic novel titled Dystopia. When an ultra rare copy of its sequel, titled Utopia, is put up for auction by a naive couple at a convention named FringeCon the four friends – Wilson Wilson (Desmin Borges – Living With Yourself), Ian (Dan Byrd – Easy A), Becky (Ashleigh LaThrop – Fifty Shades Freed) and Samantha (Jessica Rothe – Happy Death Day) – all travel to the convention with the intention to buy Utopia so they can explore their theory that the comics predict the world’s pandemics.
But they are not the only people after Utopia after a rich art collector wins the auction suddenly a young boy called Grant (Javon Walton – Euphoria) breaks into the penthouse to steal it while at the same time two assassins – Arby (Christopher Denham – Argo) and Michael Stearns (Rainn Wilson – The Office) – also pay a visit to the penthouse to retrieve the valuable item.
The best way to approach the Utopia remake is to have never seen the original British series. From the pilot episode you can tell that this is a series that is going to have many twists and turns throughout – so not knowing what is going to happen next is going to be key. Especially with the cliffhanger of the pilot which sees a character turn up that may just hint that everything in the graphic novels is based on real life.
Tone wise Utopia feels like a nineties show such as Buffy but with some edge. As soon as Samantha drops the ‘c’ word you know that the show is going to go into adult territory, the head shots that the assassins deliver as they hunt their victims later on only enhance that theory. Having said that though there is a deep intelligence to the show. The theory that the graphic novels can predict what pandemics are to come gives the show a real suspense element that you feel is only going to get expanded even further and a brief news report we hear hints that a pandemic is just starting as well.
The key to the show working though are the characters and whether they are interesting to the audience, luckily Utopia seems to have that problem well and truly solved. Wilson Wilson seems to be one of the most interesting characters to have surfaced on television for awhile, while the other three friends also could easily carry the show. After the pilot the relationship between Ian and Becky is not so much ‘will they’ but instead ‘what will they do now’ while the great acting that we know Jessica Rothe is capable of also means we are very curious to see what happens with Samantha next.
Keeping the acting in mind the casting of Rainn Wilson in such a sinister role is also a stroke of genius. We are so used to seeing his comedy side that his cold-heartedness here is a bit of surprise and there still seems to be a lot of room to further expand his character as well.
There is little doubt that once you start watching Utopia that you will continue to watch. There are just too many questions that are left after the pilot for you not to want. Questions around who the hell Grant is, what the four friends will do next and even whether or not the assassins will go after them are more than enough to keep you watching. And then there is of course the big mystery – who the hell is Jessica Hyde and is she real? Yes television fans I think our answer to iZombie has finally landed.
Summary: A tribe of cats called the Jellicles must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new Jellicle life.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 26th December 2019
Thailand Cinema Release Date: 3rd January 2019
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United States, United Kingdom
Director: Tom Hooper
Screenwriter: Les Hall, Tom Hooper, T.S. Eliot (poetry), Andrew Lloyd Webber (musical)
Cast: Jaih Betote (Coricopat), Larry Bourgeois (Socrates), Jonadette Carpio (Syllabub), Danny Collins (Mungojerrie), James Corden (Bustopher Jones), Laurie Davidson (Mr. Mistoffelees), Judi Dench (Old Deuteronomy), Jason Derulo (Rum Rum Tugger), Idris Elba (Macavity), Robbie Fairchild (Mukustrap), Francesca Hayward (Victoria), Jennifer Hudson (Grizabella), Melissa Madden-Gray (Griddlebone), Ian McKellan (Gus The Theatre Cat), Steven McRam (Shimbleshanks the Railway Cat), Naoimh Morgan (Rumpleteazer), Daniela Norman (Demeter), Bluey Robinson (Alonzo), Freya Rowley (Jellylorum), Ida Saki (Electra), Zizi Strallen (Tantomile), Taylor Swift (Bombalurina), Mette Towley (Cassandra), Eric Underwood (Admetus), Rebel Wilson (Jennyanydots), Ray Winstone (Growltiger)
Running Time: 110 mins
Classification: G (Australia) TBC (Thailand)
OUR CATS REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Dave Griffiths’ Cats Review:
When you look back of 2019 and think of what films made the biggest impact in cinema there were perhaps none quite talked about the way Cats was. When the trailer dropped for director Tom Hooper’s (Les Miserables, The King’s Speech) version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical it made the nightly news for all the wrong reasons. For some Hooper’s cats looked strange, not-quite-human not-quite-cat, but others (like myself) found themselves erring on the side caution wondering or not if this was going to turn out to be some kind of visual spectacular.
To be honest Cats sits somewhere in the middle. While it is not the musical masterpiece that Hooper created with Les Miserables it is also not as terrible as some would have you think. Perhaps the best way to approach Cats is to think you are about to enter a cinema to watch a theatre musical being projected onto the big screen because this feels much more like a concert than it does a cinematic experience.
Originally based on a collection of poems from T.S. EliotCats is told through the eyes of Victoria (Francesca Hayward – The Sun Is God, Extra) a young cat who finds herself dumped in a London alleyway one night. She soon finds herself making friends with a magical cat called Mr. Mistoffelees (Laurie Davidson – Will, The Good Liar) who soon introduces her to the world of the Jellicle Cats.
On the night she arrives she finds that the Jellicles are eagerly awaiting the arrival of one of their oldest members – their matriarch Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench – Skyfall, Shakespeare In Love) who on this night every year choices which Jellicle will live the life they have always dreamed of. But not everything runs smoothly as the villainous Macavity (Idris Elba – The Losers, Star Trek Beyond) plans on eliminating all of his competition.
Surprisingly the plot of Cats does work on the big screen. It is extremely light on though and at times the film feels like an extra couple of songs have been added to pad it out to feature film length. Despite what many felt from when that first trailer surfaced you do also find yourself as an audience member connecting with the cats on screen. Each has their own persona and whether you want to admit to it or not you do find yourself barracking for a cat to win Old Deuteronmy’s approval.
The film’s biggest weakness though is the way it is put together. The stories and scenes are almost presented the way they would be if you were reading through the original collection of short stories. A certain cat will perform and point out their strengths and weaknesses and then they are spirited away by Macavity before they can have their time with Old Deuteronomy. The sequences though where Macavity and his right-hand cat Growltiger (Ray Winstone – The Departed, Beowulf) are keeping the other cats captive are more like you would expect from a pantomime though and never become as menacing as they perhaps should have been.
While the sequences of watching the Jellicles perform does at times seem magical there is none of the wow factor here that we got with other musicals like Les Miserables and Moulin Rouge. Les Miserables worked on the big screen because it was believable while Moulin Rouge was way over the top which suited the theatre world that it was set in. Cats has the disadvantage of not being believable and it feels like perhaps it would have worked a little better if Hooper had followed in the footsteps of Baz Luhrmann and made this film go more into the fantasy realm as well.
What does work for Cats though is the casting. Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellan (Gods And Monster, Lord Of The Rings) steal the show as they expertly lead their younger cast. James Corden (Trolls, Peter Rabbit) brings in just the right amount of comic relief while playing Bustopher Jones but it is Jennifer Hudson (Dream Girls, The Secret Life Of Bees) who shines the brightest with her amazing vocals in the role of Grizabella. The ballet skills of Francesca Hayward also allows her to gracefully float across the screen as she leads the audience through this strange new world.
Cats may not leave its audience in awe the way Les Miserables did but it does have its own special charm. The best way to approach the movie is to go into the cinema knowing you will be about to watch a theatre production rather than a big blockbuster film.
Cast: Alfie Allen (Finkel), Gabriel Andrews (Herr Klum), Brian Caspe (Herr Mueller), Roman Griffin Davis (Jojo), Robert East (Herr Grusch), Luke Brandon Field (Christoph), Sam Haygarth (Hans), Adolf Hitler (himself – archival footage), Scarlett Johansson (Rosie), Thomasin McKenzie (Elsa), Stephen Merchant (Deertz), Billy Rayner (Herr Frosch), Sam Rockwell (Captain Klenzendorf), Taika Waititi (Adolf), Joe Weintraub (Herr Junker), Rebel Wilson (Fraulein Rahm), Archie Yates (Yorki)
Running Time: 108 mins
Classification: M (Australia) TBC (Thailand)
OUR JOJO RABBIT REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Dave Griffiths JoJo Rabbit Review:
Is it okay to ever try to get a laugh out of somebody’s misfortune? How about trying to get a laugh out of one of the worst massacres to have ever happened in human history? It sounds like a brutal question, yet it was a question many were asking after the announcement that filmmaker Taika Waititi was going to be making a comedy that featured himself playing Adolf Hitler while centering on a young Hitler Youth member.
The idea of something funny coming out of such a tragedy is almost unfathomable. To be honest, as someone who has interviewed a Holocaust survivor in person I was one of the people that was questioning whether or not JoJo Rabbit should ever have been made. That was before I saw the film though, afterwards I now find myself championing the film, encouraging others to see it as it delivers a powerful message that is still very relevant to society today.
The reason for my turnaround is that Waititi takes his central character, named JoJo (Roman Griffin Davis – Silent Night), on a journey of learning, discover and intense character building. While early on JoJo is excited about the training he is receiving from his military trainers Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell – Moon) and Fraulein Rahm (Rebel Wilson – Pitch Perfect) and the adventures that his training will lead to, his values are later put to the test when he discovers that his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson – The Avengers) is hiding a Jewish teenager, named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie – The King), in a secret room in their house.
There are several things that make JoJo Rabbit such a brilliant and interesting film. First it is told from a point-of-view that we have rarely got to see in cinematic history. Normally when a Nazi is shown in a film that are pure evil, and therefore the events of World War II are rarely shown from their point of view. Here we see these events through the eyes of a young member of the Hitler Youth and it is a different perspective to what many of us would have assumed it would be.
Through the eyes of JoJo we see the hatred that has been forced into him by those around him and of course the propaganda that he sees daily from the man he idolises – Adolf Hitler. But then we also see the utter confusion that he goes through as he meets Elsa. For the first time he is forced to see a Jewish person as a human and he is forced to question whether or not the stories he has been told about them being monsters is true or not. Then there is also the fact that by his own beliefs his mother is now an enemy of the State.
Audiences should be prepared to be put through a range of emotions when they watch JoJo Rabbit as well. Waititi is a smart enough filmmaker to know where the right places are to get a laugh and when it is not acceptable to do so. In fact his timing and pace throughout the film are quite genius and there is one moment in this film I can guarantee where every member of the audience will be in tears.
In his own performance as Hitler Waititi puts in a comical yet balanced performance. The audience needs to remember that this is not Waititi’s view of what Adolf Hitler was like and his slap-stick portrayal is not there to simply garnish laughs – instead it is there to show how the dictator may have been viewed by those that idolised him during the time period.
As a film JoJo Rabbit is also lifted by its fantastic performances. The young cast of Thomasin McKenzie and Roman Griffin Davis put in performances well beyond their years and it is easy to see that the two are destined to become stars. Scarlett Johansson is amazing despite her limited screen time but the true brilliance here comes from Sam Rockewell. This often under-rated actor again puts in a stunning performance as he manages to mix both comedy and drama together sensationally well. It is almost criminal that his performance here didn’t warrant more attention when it came to awards time because as he did in Richard Jewell and The Way, Way Back he once again steals the limelight in every scene he is in.
Any cinema goer has the right to be sceptical over whether or not they think JoJo Rabbit will work as a film. As I mentioned earlier it seems almost inconceivable that any filmmaker could make a comedy about the time of Holocaust and have the film work tastefully – yet somehow Waititi has done just that right here.
As a film JoJo Rabbit takes its audience on a journey alongside its main character. The film does have the power to make you laugh but it also has the power to make you cry. At times the film may not be easy to watch but at the end of the day this is a film so powerful that it deserves to be mentioned alongside great Holocaust films such as Schindler’s List and The Boy In The Striped Pajamas.
Average Subculture Rating:
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There have been a number of films over the years that have dealt with the topic of white Police violence against black citizens. Films like Fruitville Station and The Hate U Give have shown a spotlight on the issue with some sheer cinematic brilliance. Now comes Queen & Slim a film that explores the topic while bordering on being a genre flick.
Directed by Melina Matsoukas (Insecure) Queen & Slim possibly depicts one of the worst Tinder dates of all time. Bored and frustrated are having one of her clients put to death lawyer Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith – Jett) responds to a Tinder request from the quiet and law-abiding Slim (Daniel Kaluuya – Black Panther). However, the date ends disastrously when on their way home they are pulled over by a white Police Officer. When he pulls his gun and shoots Queen Slim is forced to kill him in self defence.
Convinced that nobody will believe their story the pair begin a journey across America aided by Slim’s ex-military turned criminal Uncle Earl (Bokeem Woodbine – Spider-Man: Homecoming) as they try to evade the manhunt that is now coming their way. Meanwhile the rest of America takes sides – some say they should be brought in as criminals while others want to help them escape Police.
The first thing that I should say about Queen & Slim is that this is not a multiplex film. I’ve read comments that the film is over-long etc. That simply is not true, but as you view the film your realise that Matsoukas has shot this is a way that is reminiscent of the arthouse films that Larry Clarke made in his heyday – films like Bully and Kids that made a point and stuck with you long after the credits had rolled.
The style in which Matsoukas has shot this film is hard-hitting and gritty. She is a filmmaker who is obviously not afraid to take risks – how many other filmmakers these days would have the courage to have an entire scene shot from a camera mounted and locked off on a car. Her style also allows the audience to feel like they are part of the action which in turn makes you feel a lot closer to the two main characters – Queen and Slim. The result is an understanding and closeness to them that most other filmmakers could only dream about capturing.
Having said that though there are some weaknesses with the film. At times it feels like as a director Matsoukas has been let down by the screenplay she is working with. There are too many times during the film were events happen that should be treated as major events but are never fully explored. From a man who wants to talk to them but is hit by their car through to a teenager who idolises them despite his father’s beliefs, these events happen way too fast and the audience never really get to feel the full affect of the events that surround these characters.
The film is at its best though when it allows the audience to soak up the locations and the characters that the characters find themselves around as the film goes on. One of the best characters in the film is Queen’s Uncle Earl and because of the extended time you spend with him as character the impact of his involvement in the story weighs more heavily for the audience watching. Likewise when Slim takes Queen to a dingy blues bar – the suspense is through the roof as you are never really sure whether the couple are welcome there or whether someone will turn them in.
One of the highlights of the film though are the acting performances. If nothing else Queen & Slim has introduced the cinematic world to two future stars. Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner Smith put in two stunning performances. No matter whether they are asked to deliver a deep and meaningful dramatic scene moved along only by dialogue or asked to perform graphic sex in the front seat of a car the two deliver in spades. As the film meanders along you get a strong feeling that these two actors are people we are going to be watching on the big screen for many years to come.
As a film Queen & Slim does have its flaws but it also has moments of true cinematic awe as well. Two brilliantly performed roles by the film’s stars makes up for the film’s errors while Bokeem Woodbine makes a welcome return in a truly memorable performance that only he could deliver. Likewise the film introduces us to a filmmaker that can only be described as a director that we all need to become aware of. Melina Matsoukas’ gritty style of filmmaking is a welcome relief in a cinematic world where it feels like every film needs to look ‘clean.’ Hard-hitting and at times experimental Queen & Slim is not a film that is easy to forget.
Other Subculture Entertainment Queen & Slim Reviews: N/A
Summary: A corporate defense attorney takes on an environmental lawsuit against a chemical company that exposes a lengthy history of pollution.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 5th March 2020
Thailand Cinema Release Date: TBA
Australian DVD Release Date: TBA
Country: United States
Director: Todd Haynes
Screenwriter: Mario Correa, Matthew Michael Carnahan, Nathaniel Rich (newspaper article)
Cast: Jim Azeelvandre (Jim Tennant), Bucky Bailey (himself), Aidan Brogan (Teddy Bilott (aged 12-14)), Jacob Bukowski (Tony Bilott (aged 4)), Graham Caldwell (Teddy Bilott (aged 3-5)), Bill Camp (Wilbur Tennant), Bruce Cromer (Kim Burke), Kevin Crowley (Larry Winter), Denise Dal Vara (Sandra Tennant), Marcia Dangerfield (Grammer), Bella Falcone (Crystal Tennant (aged 11-13)), Mikel Furlow (Silas Pfeiffer (aged 5)), Brian Gallagher (David), Victor Garber (Phil Donnelly), Jeffrey Grover (Edward Wallace), Richard Hagerman (Joe Kiger), William Jackson Harper (James Ross), Beau Hartwig (Tony Bilott (aged 10-11)), Anne Hathaway (Sarah Bilage Bilott), Scarlett Hicks (Amy Tennant (aged 10-12)), Louise Krause (Carla Pfeiffer), Elizabeth Marvel (Dr. Karen Frank), Mary Mengelkoch (Dr. Mary-Sue Kimball), Sydney Miles (Laura Doggett), Barry Mullholland (Charles Holliday), John Newberg (Dr. Gillespie), Bill Pullman (Harry Dietzler), Tim Robbins (Tom Terp), Mark Ruffalo (Rob Bilott), Mike Seely (Dr.Brooks), Nathan Slaughter (Teddy Bilott (aged 7-10)), Keating P. Sharp (Charlie Bilott (aged 11-12)), Abi Van Andel (Kathleen Welch), Mare Winningham (Darlene Kiger)
Running Time: 126 mins
Classification: M (Australia)
OUR DARK WATERS REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Dave Griffiths’ Dark Waters Review
Few films will have the impact on their audience that Dark Waters does. I’d be lying if I said the film didn’t get to me – actually I kind of felt physically ill as the credits rolled. That is in no way a reflection of the quality of the film, my feeling came solely from what the movie had just educated me about. See Dark Waters tells us about something that affects our everyday life but something perhaps most of us don’t even know about. To be brutally honest Dark Waters is perhaps one of the most important films that you should see this year… no make that this is a film you MUST see.
Directed by Todd Haynes (I’m Not There) the film tells the true story of lawyer, Rob Bilott (Mark Ruffalo – The Avengers). Bilott worked for a law firm who represented chemical companies but has his entire world turned upside down when a farmer named Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp – Joker) walks into his office carrying a box of video tapes he says will support his claim that one of America’s biggest chemical companies, DuPont, is poisoning his farm.
While at first reluctant to take on the case Bilott decides he will after going to visit the farm and talking to his own Grandmother about what has happened. Despite his own wife (Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables) and his boss (Tim Robbins – The Shawshank Redemption) thinking that the case may have ramifications for him Bilott continues on believing that his friendship with DuPont’s lawyer, Phil Donnelly (Victor Garber – Alias) will ensure a smooth case that will lead with a payment to the Tennant family. However as Bilott begins to investigate the case DuPont start to act more aggressively towards him and it soon becomes clear that the case is much bigger than anyone could ever have predicted it would.
Dark Waters is the kind of movie that could have become a sticky trap for director Todd Haynes as a filmmaker. While being a very important whistleblower movie exposing a truth that the world needs to know about for the most part this film is a courtroom drama. At times it is not even that – as there are times when this is a movie literally about a man going through box after box of paper in a bid to try and find what he needs before he can even go to court. How Haynes makes that watchable is the feat of a very great filmmaker indeed. There are even times in this movie where he has to deliver an information dump – and he even makes that something gripping to watch.
Haynes finds suspense in things where there shouldn’t be suspense. The fact that he is able to get the audience on the edge of their seat simply because a character is walking to their car after a mundane meeting is some pretty damn fine filmmaking. Even the scenes of Ruffalo unpacking boxes becomes moments of true intrigue as the audience keeps watching wondering when or if he will ever find that elusive piece of the pie that he needs.
The fact though that this is a movie that impacts us all is something though that not even a filmmaker can manufacture. We’ve all used Teflon with our cooking, hell I can even remember my mother being proud of the fact that she owned pots and pans with Teflon in them. And that is what makes this film some spine-chilling – it is a movie that involves all of us and luckily Haynes is the filmmaker who has decided to tell the world the truth about what exactly happened here… a brave move indeed.
Some people may criticise the film for the fact that some actors and actresses get under used, but I did not see that as an issue at all. Yes, Anne Hathaway does not appear in many scenes early on in the film but that seems to add power to the scenes that she does appear in later in the film. Her scene with Tim Robbins where she scolds him for the way that she has been treating her on-screen husband, his employee, is one of the most powerful scenes in the entire movie and you can easily why the casting team wanted an A-Grade actress in the role.
Then of course there is Mark Ruffalo. Of course now for a generation of film-goers he will be known as The Hulk, but it is films like Dark Waters that reminds us what a great character he is. Going into this film I was a little worried that perhaps I would feel like I was simply watching Mark Ruffalo, but just like he did in the under-rated Infinitely Polar Bear Ruffalo totally absorbs his character and puts in a stunning performance that is worthy of a few award wins along the way.
There is no doubt that Dark Waters is a gripping film made even better by a filmmaker who found the perfect way to bring an important yet potentially dull storyline to the cinema in a creative and entertaining way. Haynes brings in moments of true suspense and mixes them with moments of true genius as he finds an interesting way to even get scientific information across to his audience. There are moments when Dark Waters hits its audience like a sledgehammer right between the eyes and in the end it becomes one of the must see films of 2020.
Kyle McGrath’s Dark Waters Review
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