Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

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swo17
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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#51 Post by swo17 » Tue Jan 26, 2021 5:03 pm

His best will always be Superstar

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DarkImbecile
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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#52 Post by DarkImbecile » Tue Jan 26, 2021 5:05 pm

OK, his best that I’ve seen

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swo17
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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#53 Post by swo17 » Tue Jan 26, 2021 5:37 pm

You might as well just watch it here, as there's no higher quality option

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#54 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Jan 26, 2021 7:43 pm

I still need to see this one, but I'll just say that while I don't think Haynes has ever made a bad film, Safe, Carol, and Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story are all too perfect to choose between them. The one that really surprised me though was Wonderstruck, a lovely movie that seems to have been overlooked by many since it came out.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#55 Post by hearthesilence » Tue Jan 26, 2021 8:02 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Tue Jan 26, 2021 7:43 pm
The one that really surprised me though was Wonderstruck, a lovely movie that seems to have been overlooked by many since it came out.
We talked about that in its own thread - it felt like Amazon buried it. I never saw any ads posted anywhere, and the only place that screened it near me was the Angelika. It may be a Haynes film, but it's an adaptation of a children's book - this should have been playing in malls, not arthouse theaters. Anyway, I saw it (with MoviePass - remember those halcyon days?) and liked it - Haynes did an excellent job with it.

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senseabove
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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#56 Post by senseabove » Tue Jan 26, 2021 8:22 pm

How I feel not seeing anyone rep for what is probably the most-watched movie in my movie-loving life: Image

And his book-faithful adaptation of Mildred Pierce is also not to be missed.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#57 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Jan 27, 2021 1:25 am

I agree about Mildred Pierce, it's one of his masterpieces, IMHO.

I'm a huge Bowie, Iggy/Stooges and glam-era T. Rex fan, although not when the film was released, so I wasn't compelled to go see it. I'm still reluctant to do so after hearing Haynes incessantly complain about the lack of Bowie-owned music - to his surprise, Bowie refused to grant any licenses to the film, but it sounds like the wheels were already in motion, so against his own judgment he went ahead anyway and has regretted the compromises ever since. I love I'm Not There, but I don't think it would have ever worked if Dylan's songs were completely removed and replaced with knock-off compositions.

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senseabove
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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#58 Post by senseabove » Wed Jan 27, 2021 4:25 am

I'd say anyone going into it expecting a Bowie biopic will be sorely disappointed, so try not to do that. And I'm surprised you have the impression Haynes "incessantly" complained about Bowie's rejection, as it being "a Bowie biopic" has always struck me as more marketing/viewer expectation than thwarted intent. So far as I recall, Haynes never really describes it as a thwarted Bowie biopic so much as a portrait of an era and its impact, that unsurprisingly relies heavily on its most famous progenitor*; and while he intended to use Bowie songs until Bowie vetoed their inclusion, in the interview recorded before it even premiered that's included with the published script, Haynes hardly sounds bitter about that:
It was very disappointing to me, but [Bowie] remained firm about his decision. I really respect his choice and I think it ultimately serves the film not to have Bowie's music - of course, it's easy to say that now - because, while they are fantastic songs that can never be matched, I think their absence makes it easier to make Brian Slade his own character; there are new levels of interpretation.
All that said, it's a movie I've adored since I was a teenager, if for nothing else than introducing me to Bowie, but I recognize it's an ambitious, over-complicated, beautiful mess, impossible to track in one viewing, and even I've only come around to thinking it's his convoluted masterpiece after many, many, many viewings. I can't begrudge anyone else thinking many of his movies are better, though I do think a lot of the disdain for it is misplaced expectations. Since I daydream about writing up something for the Musicals Redux thread, I'll stop there, though...

*he talks about this a little in the commentary early on, when he mentions that Bowie apparently criticized the film for presenting glam as more slick than it was, and Haynes says, well, yeah, because it's about how people—like Bale's character—saw glam, not how glam actually was. And that's also why its heavy reliance on pastiche songs written by bands heavily influenced by glam rock is entirely appropriate.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#59 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Jan 27, 2021 5:08 am

senseabove wrote:
Wed Jan 27, 2021 4:25 am
I'd say anyone going into it expecting a Bowie biopic will be sorely disappointed, so try not to do that. And I'm surprised you have the impression Haynes "incessantly" complained about Bowie's rejection, as it being "a Bowie biopic" has always struck me as more marketing/viewer expectation than thwarted intent. So far as I recall, Haynes never really describes it as a thwarted Bowie biopic so much as a portrait of an era and its impact, that unsurprisingly relies heavily on its most famous progenitor
First to be clear, I did not say it was a biopic, and I think it was already clear that it wasn't. Though I am making some comparisons to a film that technically is a biopic, it's not on the grounds that both films should be considered biopics - despite a similar importance of the original source music involved, that doesn't mean both are meant to have a similar aim of depicting or analyzing an individual life.

Re: Bowie's rejection, "incessantly complained" may be the wrong choice of words, but I've heard or read Haynes speak about his disappointment over and over again, never more clearly than on the I'm Not There commentary where he is very upfront about how he believed his failure to secure those songs negatively impacted Velvet Goldmine and how that reinforced his determination NOT to have the same thing happen with I'm Not There.

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senseabove
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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#60 Post by senseabove » Wed Jan 27, 2021 1:29 pm

Ah, yeah, I over-interpreted how you framed your reticence about watching it with reference to your interest in the (heavily remixed) subjects and the lack of primary material.

Interesting that he says that on the I'm Not There commentary, but not, so far as I recall, on the VG commentary that was recorded later! I recall him talking about his disappointment at Bowie's refusal pretty freely, but not to the extent that it had a persistent negative impact on the final film. It's been a while since I've listened to the whole VG commentary, though, so maybe I've just forgotten it. I've been meaning to revisit I'm Not There, so I'll have to bump that up in priority so I can also watch it with the commentary.


Incidentally, it appears the US Lionsgate BD of VG is now OoP, so here's hoping some quality label can release the gorgeous 2K scan that's only had a French release (though it uses the slightly longer Cannes cut, while the commentary is for the US theatrical cut).

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knives
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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#61 Post by knives » Sat Feb 13, 2021 9:05 pm

I really liked this and would rank it as easily top tier Haynes, though with the caveat that I run hot and cold on him. The script is okay, but Haynes discipline of the actors particularly the lesser known ones like the main farmer alongside Lachman’s rotting corpse cinematography left me sick and disturbed like nothing else. In certain respect this should be example number one of Haynes’ greatness as a director as it is those aspects which elevate this to Silkwood quality.

The score is also fantastic.
Last edited by knives on Sat Feb 13, 2021 9:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#62 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Feb 13, 2021 9:43 pm

I watched this a few weeks ago and felt similarly to those mixed on the previous page, particularly Brian's point alluding to where the empathy lies briefly on the farmers without actually fleshing out their experience beyond the motivation needed for the heroic lawyer to have his heart grow three sizes. I get why Ruffalo is drawn to the story- from a position of a Hollywood actor who cannot actually fully empathize with the details of the oppressed's lives and must instead use his comfortable and privileged public role for advocacy to do good, which is not a shaming reading but a realistic one that makes sense and is honorable in its own right. I'm just not convinced it makes the film more interesting or better or different than any of the middling social justice political thrillers of the last few decades, posturing at the limitations of one's ability to reckon with systems for justice but the pity is as directed towards the self as it is outwardly towards the real victims (though I guess we're all victims, a point that's made later on, this seriously undercuts the experience of those sick and dying in a bit of an unintentional All-Lives Matter umbrella). I don't think I noticed Haynes "discipline of the actors" and if you're referring to Bill Camp I'm interested in what you mean by that? His performance was good but hardly restrained, though he was restricted from appearing in the movie too much I suppose. I also appreciate the reading of the cinematography as "rotting corpse" but it seemed to be more of a typically blue overcast shade to signify a dark mood- not that I need the Oliver Stone trashy experimental camerawork to translate the polluted atmosphere but I think it's a reach to say this photography was uniquely rancid.

Overall I did feel invested and liked it just fine, and yeah the score was strong.

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knives
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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#63 Post by knives » Sat Feb 13, 2021 10:06 pm

Discipline doesn’t necessarily mean restrained. For that comment I was primarily thinking of Ruffalo who I usually hate, but found working outside his usual ticks here instead playing something of a blank slate. Just compare this to his similar role in Spotlight.

I was just really impressed by Camp who is given the impossible task of fulfilling the script’s responsibilities which I guess is what you are talking about with the empathy stuff of being this thing to pity, but also the aesthetics [safe] style responsibilities as the source of the social disease called awareness.

That is I think is the beauty of Chidi’s scene as it shows awareness sinking into the room and ignorance being a bliss that is necessary to preserve mental health. The film has manipulated Ruffalo from bland audience surrogate to patient zero in spreading the disease of awareness. This isn’t Erin Brockovich but rather Contagion. I think that’s the importance of Ruffalo having physical conditions, a weirdly Haynesian detail, to represent having more knowledge.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#64 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Feb 13, 2021 10:31 pm

Yeah I guess I still don't see how that discipline is Haynes' to issue, since this was Ruffalo's passion project I would be surprised if he didn't go into it knowing how he wanted to play that character, and since you said "particularly the lesser known ones" I thought the comment naturally was directed elsewhere. The scene with Chidi does have the effect you mention, but I still didn't think that it was particularly executed in a profound way. Robbins' interruption is subtly powerful but it's not different than countless other movies that have these oversimplified epiphanies verbalized succinctly. I understand that Spotlight gets a lot of hate here, but my impression was the opposite: There's a great scene in that film where Ruffalo and McAdams are on the porch of an apt and the circumstances of the case are so devastating and overwhelming that they try to find the words to make the kind of Hollywood speeches found here and elsewhere and instead all he can say is slowly utter "this... sucks" and all she can do is repeat it back. That's more authentic, humbling, and affecting than anything in this movie, and allows the blank slate of a mind focused only on empathizing to reflect the blank slate of a character without apologizing for it, and in that moment I felt one with them both.

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knives
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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#65 Post by knives » Sat Feb 13, 2021 10:46 pm

Because Haynes is the director. Directors direct actors to give performances, not trying to sound sarcastic but explaining what I mean, and so the form of the performances are filtered through the director. Ruffalo may have masterminded the project, but the quality of performances were Haynes’ responsibility.

Like, it’s fine that you don’t think the film elevates itself above the script like I do, obviously, but I believe I’ve clearly explained why I think the final picture is significantly within Haynes wheelhouse. The aesthetic reduces the political aspect of the film some to me, don’t get me wrong though as I was checking my cabinets after watching the movie, to induce a social idea about the burdens of knowing your fellow while ultimately showing that to be not be a real knowing, contrary to your interpretation, as illustrated in the whole denouement of the film where nothing is accomplished and for all of his empathy Ruffalo remains ignorant of the people he is defending. It is exactly like Moore knowing she is sick from society yet not knowing how or why.

I should clarify I love Spotlight and was mentioning it exclusively because of the similarities between the characters.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#66 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Feb 13, 2021 11:09 pm

Well I do think Haynes is a very competent director and that he does help elevate this above the script, perhaps just not to the same degree you do. I understand what directors do and what their responsibilities are, but considering you're usually the first to push back against the director as author of all, I'm surprised at how strong you felt Haynes' level of influence here, which felt to me much more collaborative and hands-off compared to his other works with more glaring fingerprints. I'm sorry to say I don't feel like you "clearly explained why this is within Hayne's wheelhouse" and I still find it an outlier in his work from an auteurist standpoint in theme or style, but I'll continue to comb through your posts and see if I can figure it out. I did like this movie, but it seemed like the director's most complacent as far as his role and passion stemming from that role.

Thanks for the Spotlight clarification, I see now that you meant compare the roles as similar in approach rather than to contrast their value within similar characters.

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knives
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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#67 Post by knives » Sat Feb 13, 2021 11:39 pm

No worries. On the auteurist thing what I usually am running against, and believe I am doing here, is the idea of a singular author. Ruffalo is an author of the film and his contributions of authorship to me are summed up by the script and that’s what I meant in my original post whenever I said script. Haynes and Lachman as well seem to me to be authors of the film even if under the permission of Ruffalo as producer. Those two though are so conjoined that their mutual authorship is really what I think most take as Haynes’ authorship. Together through what I assume is a genuine interest in the possibility of the script they have manipulated the end product to have many common features of some of their films, most directly [safe].

I suppose a comparable situation is with Mission: Impossible wherein Cruise is the initiating author and has the producer permission over other potential authors, yet each film is unique with the flavors of authorship each director brings. Likewise here, as mentioned earlier in the thread, give this same script to Mann and the movie would come across as having a radically different theme and purpose.

The clarity of Haynes’ authorship I thought I had established is with the idea of social viruses which seems to me to be a major theme throughout Haynes’ work going back to Superstar’s idea of fame being something which eats off of the celebrity. Throughout his career he has made knowledge and secrets the twinned poison that needs a balance to be found, but usually left as a poison, unsurprisingly a name he has already used and which could apply to all of the films he has made, that we must accept.

The film does lack Haynes’ explicit narrative choices such as nonlinearity and using pop culture as a short hand for an intellectual concept, but I think that is what makes the film exciting. He’s bringing to the fore some key themes in another person’s sandbox.

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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#68 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Feb 14, 2021 12:18 am

knives wrote:
Sat Feb 13, 2021 11:39 pm
The clarity of Haynes’ authorship I thought I had established is with the idea of social viruses which seems to me to be a major theme throughout Haynes’ work going back to Superstar’s idea of fame being something which eats off of the celebrity. Throughout his career he has made knowledge and secrets the twinned poison that needs a balance to be found, but usually left as a poison, unsurprisingly a name he has already used and which could apply to all of the films he has made, that we must accept.

The film does lack Haynes’ explicit narrative choices such as nonlinearity and using pop culture as a short hand for an intellectual concept, but I think that is what makes the film exciting. He’s bringing to the fore some key themes in another person’s sandbox.
Thanks for embellishing- now that makes sense to me, and I can get behind that reading

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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#69 Post by John Cope » Sun Feb 14, 2021 1:13 am

This seemed to go under the radar a bit when it was released last fall and it deserves far better than that. In our current environment it's not surprising if its neglect continues as it is a piece which is far from providing the kind of easy uplift many may be looking for. It is remarkable to me though in many ways.

First, Haynes takes a procedural of prosaic seeming details which may have sank under their weight in other hands and makes it genuinely cinematic. This picture is shot in ultra widescreen 2.39:1 and virtually every composition here bears evidence of that having been taken into consideration and worked for maximum impact. This is no overly familiar, albeit well meaning, TV movie on a noble subject. Haynes elevates it through his technique and that alone contributes to providing a weightiness for it complementary to its subject matter. He gets us to focus fresh and anew on details that should matter to us and do matter to us and to recognize that and them as vital components again within an overall vision, emphasizing their relevance via his art.

Beyond that, here again I just appreciate Haynes' craft and technique and art so much. I have had a very tumultuous relationship to the overall arc of his career but I don't think that's inappropriate and it matches the restless spirit he puts into it. Since his Mildred Pierce though I have been utterly and entirely back on board, with real admiration for how subtle he has gone since that picture and this whole decade really. In Dark Waters it's one of may favorite things that a distinctive artist can do: apply his art to familiar forms, reinvigorating them for us and instilling them with fresh, well observed vitality and detail. So here, for instance, we get that tremendous sequence, structured like a nesting doll, in which Ruffalo's character delivers the obligatory and necessary background exposition, first directly to his wife and then back further in time to encompass others and then intertwined among all those affected. Haynes and his great DP Ed Lachman deliver countless striking compositions of vast visual depth and range conveying a proper epic scope while suffusing the images with a related thematic interpenetration.

I must single out the extraordinary scene toward the end in which Ruffalo's character finally hears back (after years) on details allowing him to proceed with his case. He returns home utterly exhausted and relieved, says nothing (and *needs* to say nothing) to his wife and they collapse into a weary but cathartic embrace. It's a tremendously powerful scene emotionally, registering how nothing really does need to be said there and how much more mature it is (and respectful of the audience) that nothing is said. That this scene is then undercut immediately in terms of its temporary triumph by the next one simply adds to the accomplishment.

Dark Waters is also excellent as a double feature to Haynes' own classic [Safe], and not just for those obvious thematic connections and correlations between them. He extends the concentration of the earlier picture on the pernicious possibilities of diseases and infections wrought by technology and the environment past the struggle of ambiguous uncertainty into the realm of a becalmed but troubled conviction where the struggle becomes a different one. Haynes even explicitly evokes and parallels [Safe] at many points, including especially the endless white noise of contextualizing but almost subterranean radio talk in the background of car rides, subtly informing the subconscious of his characters and us. There's also a great moment of direct recall when Ruffalo sits in his car in a near empty garage filled with his own strain of dread over whether someone has wired it to blow. When he finally makes the decision to turn the key to find out Haynes cuts back outside the car again to a shot of it at a distance and alone, satisfying a genre beat while establishing a connection to Julianne Moore's scared solitude in another parking garage in [Safe].

Actually, this might be an ideal time to mention an update regarding my own relationship to [Safe], which has long been fraught. For a long time, since I first saw it upon its initial release in '95, I have thought of it as great film, easily among the very best of the 90's. Then somewhere along the way I began to turn on it some, regarding it as an ultimately problematic picture which had simply overwhelmed us too much with its superficial technique and accomplishment (while demanding the kind of deeper analysis that resulted in finding problems with it) and was subsequently overrated. But seeing it again awhile ago I have to admit that I really have to revise my revision. Regardless of whatever issues I or anyone else may have with it, [Safe] really is simply too great of an accomplishment of filmmaking, maybe even a perfect one, to ever dismiss. And, of course, what you realize is that any great work of art or philosophy or whatever will, due to that greatness, induce closer and closer examinations revealing problems, because nothing, at least no piece of art or philosophy, is ever entirely perfect or unassailable. But that hardly keeps any of those things from greatness. They are as close as we get.

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knives
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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#70 Post by knives » Sun Feb 14, 2021 7:38 am

John Cope wrote:
Sun Feb 14, 2021 1:13 am
This seemed to go under the radar a bit when it was released last fall and it deserves far better than that. In our current environment it's not surprising if its neglect continues as it is a piece which is far from providing the kind of easy uplift many may be looking for. It is remarkable to me though in many ways.
I think this is a really key point. End titles aside this film doesn’t have the uplifting nature you’d expect. With the final image everyone will die of cancer, anxiety, or their own fat and it doesn’t look as if advocacy, in the legal as well as activists sense, actually can accomplish culpability which is the script’s desire. It’s a dark truth about society’s indifference.

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John Cope
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Re: Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)

#71 Post by John Cope » Mon Feb 15, 2021 6:15 am

knives wrote:
Sun Feb 14, 2021 7:38 am
John Cope wrote:
Sun Feb 14, 2021 1:13 am
This seemed to go under the radar a bit when it was released last fall and it deserves far better than that. In our current environment it's not surprising if its neglect continues as it is a piece which is far from providing the kind of easy uplift many may be looking for. It is remarkable to me though in many ways.
I think this is a really key point. End titles aside this film doesn’t have the uplifting nature you’d expect. With the final image everyone will die of cancer, anxiety, or their own fat and it doesn’t look as if advocacy, in the legal as well as activists sense, actually can accomplish culpability which is the script’s desire. It’s a dark truth about society’s indifference.
One other thing though that makes this remarkable is the degree to which it presents its lone crusading lawyer as heroic figure. Though obviously we've had heroic lawyer characters in the past seldom do we get one (especially now) bearing such moral freight and emblematic of such righteousness and noble integrity within an uncaring society (though rather astonishingly we got another in the same calendar year in Just Mercy). The end titles you refer to really are an awesome and inspiring testament in the face of so much realist despair.

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