Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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My Review of DARK WATERS

Dark Waters, rated PG-13

Dark Waters is a film inspired by the real-life legal battle against DuPont over the release of a toxic chemical in Parkersburg, West Virginia. The film is directed by Oscar nominee Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven), written by Mario Correa and Matthew Michael Carnahan (Lions for Lambs), and based on the New York Times Magazine article “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare” by Nathaniel Rich.
Robert Bilott, played by three-time Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight, Foxcatcher, The Kids Are Alright), is a Cincinnati, Ohio attorney on the environmental team, and new partner at Taft, Stettinius & Hollister, a firm that represents major corporations. He is interrupted during an important meeting by Wilbur Tennant, played by Emmy nominee Bill Camp (The Night Of), who lives in Parkersburg, West Virginia, Bilott’s grandmother’s hometown. Robert’s grandmother had told Tennant to go see Bilott about the cattle on his farm that were dying. Tennant is convinced that DuPont, one of the world’s largest chemical companies, has poisoned a stream on his farm that the cattle drink from. Bilott tells Tennant that he is a corporate defense attorney who defends chemical companies, not individuals. But after visiting his grandmother, Bilott decides to look into Tennant’s situation. What he finds is that 190 of Tennant’s cattle have died. Robert makes the decision to take Tennant’s case. Continue reading

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My Review of OCEAN’S 8

Ocean’s 8, rated PG-13

Ocean’s 8 is an entertaining, all-women sequel to the Ocean’s trilogy that was launched in 2001, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starred George Clooney as Danny Ocean. Those Ocean’s films were actually a remake of the 1960 Ocean’s 11 film starring the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., etc.).  Soderbergh serves as producer for this film. The film, which features an all-star cast, is directed by four-time Oscar nominee Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Dave, Big), and written by Ross and Olivia Milch.
Oscar winner (The Blind Side) Sandra Bullock stars as Debbie Ocean, the estranged younger sister of Danny. The film begins as Debbie is finishing a five-year prison sentence. Although she convincingly assures the parole board that she is looking forward to the simple life, in reality, she has spent the past five years, eight months and 12 days planning her next big heist. Immediately after being released from prison she cons her way through a department store and into a high-end Manhattan hotel room. So much for the simple life.
Shortly after that Debbie contacts her best friend and nightclub owner Lou, played by two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator), to tell her of her plan to steal a large diamond. The $150 million diamond necklace, weighing in excess of six pounds, is locked in an underground Cartier vault, and only removed for special occasions.  One such event is the Met Gala, the annual fashion extravaganza at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it will be worn by the famous actress Daphne Kluger, played by Oscar winner Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables).
Debbie and Lou then go about putting together their dream team to carry out their audacious plan. Their team will be comprised of all women, because as Debbie says “A ‘him’ gets noticed. A ‘her’ gets ignored. And for once, we want to be ignored.” Each of the women will bring a specific talent to the team.
Their team is comprised of singer Rihanna as the hacker Nine Ball, two-time Oscar nominee Helena Bonham Carter (The Wings of the Dove, The King’s Speech) as Rose Weil, a struggling high-end fashion designer, Golden Globe winner Sarah Paulson (American Crime Story), as Tammy, a former fence (middleman), who is trying to live a quiet life as a mom in the suburbs, rapper-comedian Awkwafina as the pickpocket Constance, and six-time Emmy nominee Mindy Kaling (The Office) as the jeweler Amita.
Fashion plays a big part in this film. Costume design is by Sarah Edwards. She not only outfits Ocean’s gang, but we also see incredible fashion on display at the Met Gala. We see Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour, as well as a number of celebrities at the Gala.
How Ocean’s 8 carry out the heist with the tremendous amount of security around the diamond necklace was entertaining, and includes some plot twists, though the lead up to that was a bit slow.
There is also a subplot of revenge involving one of Debbie’s former lovers, Claude Becker, the art dealer played by Richard Armitage (The Hobbit films, Hannibal). Four-time Emmy winner James Corden (The Late Late Show with James Corden, The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special, The 70th Annual Tony Awards) plays the excitable insurance investigator John Frazier.
The film gets its “PG-13” rating for adult language, including at least one abuse of Jesus’ name. Themes include theft, revenge and deception.
Ocean’s 8 is an entertaining twist on the Oceans films, this time using an all-female crew. The performances by Bullock and Cate Blanchett lead the way for this strong cast.

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Movie Review ~ The Intern, rated PG-13

The InternThe Intern, rated PG-13
*** ½

Robert De Niro has long been one of my favorite actors, and is one of our greatest actors of all-time. But, he makes a lot of films, and over the past several years, it has been “hit and miss” – some have been good, and some not so good. Anne Hathaway is one of our better actresses today. Having seen the trailer for this film several times, I was really looking forward to seeing the film. And it really delivered – getting high marks from all in our Friday Night Movie Club. De Niro and Hathaway have excellent chemistry and lead a solid cast, which also includes Rene Russo and Linda Lavin.

The film is written and directed by Nancy Meyers (It’s Complicated, Something’s Gotta Give). It was filmed on location, mostly in Brooklyn, which we enjoyed as our group was just there on vacation two weeks ago.

De Niro stars as 70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker. Ben has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. He was successful in business for forty years, and likes to stay busy, so he decides to apply for a Senior Intern Program at an e-commerce business “About The Fit,” where he is assigned to the founder, Jules Ostin (Hathaway). But Jules is extremely busy (running an hour late to every meeting), and initially has no use for an intern.

Jules’ assistant Cameron (Andrew Rannells) tells her that despite the company’s success, their investors would like to bring an outside CEO to the company. Jules is devastated with this news, but begins interviewing prospects as requested.

Jules is married to Matt (Anders Holm), who had been the more successful of the two, but decided to be a stay at home Dad to their delightful daughter Paige (JoJo Kushner) so that Julies could pursue her work at “About The Fit”. But Jules’ work life is out of control and Matt is getting ignored, and their relationship is suffering.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the film is Ben’s interactions with his 20-something male co-workers, who don’t quite know what to think of him initially. He gives them advice on relationships, responsibility, attire and professionalism.

The film features some adult language, but not much compared to most PG-13 films, though God’s name is used inappropriately several times. There are some suggestive scenes, though nothing is shown.

We really enjoyed the film, but it ended abruptly, and a bit up in the air. We could think of better alternative endings. We don’t see any of the characters in the film demonstrating any faith. Regardless, this is one of my favorite movies of the year and highly recommended.