Not all heroism comes clad in Spandex or swinging a laser sword. Mark Ruffalo is drabness personified in the riveting procedural Dark Waters, playing a Cincinnati lawyer who turns from corporate defence to proletariat attack. Taking up the cause of a farmer whose cattle are being killed by chemicals oozing out of DuPont plants, he finds a murky trail that leads into every American kitchen. Todd Haynes directs this truth-based David and Goliath in a minor key, the backdrop a blur of beige offices and endless legal case boxes. Tonally it's a close relative of another Ruffalo film, the 2015 Oscar-winner Spotlight, a galvanising reminder of what can be achieved when people doggedly keep doing their jobs — and how institutional toxicity thrives on them not doing so. You may never look at your non-stick pans the same way again.
There is no drabness to be found in Ema, an intriguingly opaque story of high-intensity dance, sexual abandon and pyromania from Chile's Pablo Larraín (Jackie, Neruda). Ema (Mariana Di Girolamo) is a peroxided, punkish and puckish member of an urban dance troupe who is romantically entangled with its leader, Gaston (Gael García Bernal). After a failed stab at parenting, guilt, love and recrimination are all in the air. This we glean from spiteful exchanges between the couple that are intercut with violently expressive dance sequences set to booming beats. The conversations are as jagged as the gyrations. You wonder: is everyone here drugged, cracked or both? Then the flame-thrower comes out. Yet against the odds, like some crazed choreographer himself, Larraín eventually pulls the whole spectacle together. Until then, best just to submit to Ema's strange, intoxicating rhythms.
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