Past movie reviews from

Movie Review:

For Colored Girls written for the screen, produced and directed by Tyler Perry

Years ago a friend recommended I read For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange.  Never having read the original, I recently watched the movie For Colored Girls based on it (thanks m).

This movie is amazing.  It succeeds in showing the pain and suffering that black women and girls undergo.  So often people can't see suffering and instead blame the victim.  It is refreshing to hear/see some truth.  It also shows the disaster that befalls the men who cause the suffering.  No one escapes. Phylicia Rashad does a fine turn as the good woman answering the desperate question; how is one to survive in the face of it all? 


Women are vulnerable when they freely give out kindness and caring - and some men enjoy misogyny.  I wished the movie had answered the other question of how do we stop the horribleness period.   The answer to this has got to begin with understanding that people are often hurt badly by others and For Colored Girls is a big help on this point.

This movie is R-rated and contains disturbing violence.  Older teens could perhaps see it and discuss how they feel about the violence and what they can do.


Movie review................week of Feb.7th

My Name is Khan directed by Karan Johar

This 2010 movie is from Bollywood but doesn't fit the subtype at all (there was only one dance scene).  Shahrukh Khan is the star and succeeds in the portrayal of an autistic hero.  The story is mostly that of prejudice and what it means for all of us, yet the movie is better without spoiling more details.  The cinematography was just lovely even on a TV screen.  In English with subtitles in a small portion.

Suitable for almost everyone although students below 5th grade may have trouble understanding the themes or be disturbed by the depictions of disaster and violence.



a review.......

James Cameron's AVATAR

This movie is a compelling epic about how people become stronger and wiser through struggling to conquer challenges.  A dedicated Marine finds himself in totally unfamiliar surroundings as part of a detail charged with protecting people from Earth while they exploit the resources of a distant planet (Pandora).  Although it seems related to comic books or video games the movie is fully endowed with characters and situations drawn from reality.  We all journey through life and this story resonates with what's inside us (who doesn't encounter demons in their dreams?).

 The indigenous people on Pandora are like us but improved.  They have larger bodies, bigger eyes, are better listeners, and are light years ahead of us in sensing and communication.  Even so, the Na'vi live in a 'natural' state in close harmony with the plants and animals of Pandora.  Men and women share power among the indigenous and the power of community is strong for them.  In contrast, the newly arrived Earth people are nearly totally dependent on their machines and follow a hierarchical form of government.

 Trying hard to get to know the locals, the Marine soon finds himself mightily confused about which is the right side of

 the conflict.  This is no surprise since those charged with a protection role are actually murderous and those labeled savages are not at all.  He says the problem with not understanding a situation correctly is that '...sooner or later you have to wake up'.  The inevitable conflict over who controls the planet is wrenching. 

We too have difficulty dealing with the heartless as they thrash around causing harm to many, using greed or politics as an excuse for their actions.  One of the advantages the Na'vi have is their ability to really see each other so that they can identify which of the Earth people can help them. Another big assist is that the Na'vi have a deity that gives them signs to point out the way to go.  We are mostly unskilled 'babies" at seeing each other clearly, and because we fail to recognize those that are heartless or even the heroe(ine)s that could lead the way, we often fail in our attempts to improve life here on earth.  This movie schooled me with its artificial world: we have to see correctly who is causing harm to the group/world and we need to see correctly who has the qualities needed to vanquish the instigators of the harm. The absolute necessity of seeing well is because we have to participate, one person can start a difficult task but they won’t finish it without help.

 See the movie for yourself, millions already have done so.  However the theme and the violence is not suitable for young children even with the G rating.

Living Downstream - a review

 About 75 people gathered on Saturday October 23rd to watch this movie based on the book by Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D.  The movie was sobering to watch but very well thought out.  It points out that cancer and chronic diseases are on the rise in the USA and we know that exposure to toxic chemicals in the environment can play a role in causing such illnesses.  Yet diseases often take a long time to develop and individuals have different sensitivity to toxic chemicals due of genetic variation and l variation in habits, intake and elimination, age, etc.  As pointed out in the movie, not everyone will be sickened when toxic chemicals are present in the environment but some will be. 

 Dr. Steingraber says it is a bad idea to gamble with our exposure to toxic chemicals, hoping that we will be one of those spared from illness.  No one of us alone is wise enough to avoid exposure to toxic chemicals and even if you could then your neighbors and family and friends would still be at risk.  This issue impacts everyone.   She asserts it is a violation of our rights to have toxic chemicals to enter anyone's home through air or water.  The federal act that regulates toxic chemical use and disposal has not changed since 1976.  The Safer Chemical Healthy Families organization (link corrected) is conducting a national effort to revise this act in order to make it a better fit to the current era.

 In our own area, the EPA has found that we have too much manganese (Mn) in our drinking water.  The EPA's position paper on manganese (Mn) is somewhat murky.  Although Mn is a required nutritional element for people, too much Mn inhaled by factory workers causes an illness called manganism.  This illness includes tremors, Parkinsonism, excitation of movement later followed by decreased movement.  Miners exposed to Mn dusts exhibit a variety of symptoms including weakness, anorexia, apathy, impotence, leg cramps, headache, speech disturbances, psychosis, pneumoconiosis, encephalitis-like syndrome and Parkinson-like syndrome.  However scary the occupational hazards above, the data about Mn taken in by mouth is contradictory about whether disease can be caused by an oral excess.  In the face of this uncertainty, the EPA set a Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (SMCL) for Mn in drinking water of 0.05 mg/l because this avoids off taste and staining produced by Mn and they predict this level will avoid causing disease.  The World Health Organization allows a higher level for Mn (0.5 mg/l) in drinking water.  The water produced by the YS water treatment plant contains 0.15 mg/l of Mn which is above the SMCL set by the EPA.  According to the EPA at Mn level >0.1 mg/l in water there will be poor taste and staining while black precipitate can form on pipes at Mn levels of  0.02 mg/l.

 It is likely that individual intake of Mn is highly variable among villagers because Mn tends to precipitate into sediments (such sludge is present in our water system), diet alters absorption of Mn particularly iron and calcium, and some homes have filters that reduce Mn.  It should be noted that levels of Mn (and other metals) can be measured in people if an overexposure is suspected and that Village Council has described filters that homeowners can install to decrease Mn at home. 


Mn is very common in the earth's surface.  Mn compounds are used in industry particularly in the manufacture of iron and steel, in fertilizers, and in paint/varnish.  Industrial wastes can be responsible for elevations of Mn in subsoil and water over normal amounts.  Our village well field is downhill from an aluminum and iron foundry and the water pipeline to the village passes their landfill while crossing the plant's property. Storm sewers from the village cross the plant site on their way to the Little Miami River.  (To see the area travel south on the bike path to find the plant on the right and the well field on the left to the southeast.)  In the past, the industrial plant was required to treat ground water to remove chemical contaminants (volatile organic compounds such as 1,1,1-trichloroethane* and 1,1,-dichloroethane*) before groundwater left the plant site.  A request to declare the treatment goal attained was approved in December of 2008 and the treatment halted in January of 2009. 

Dr. Steingraber says that citizens cannot wait for proof of harm (because it is endlessly debatable) but should just admit we know that toxic chemicals are harmful when they contaminate water and air.  We cannot depend on the EPA to fully protect us because they believe that toxic chemicals can be present in acceptable amounts considered too small to cause disease - another point of endless contention.  There are still contaminants in the ground water at the plant site and the issue for the Ohio EPA to decide in December 2010 is about whether the amounts are small enough to allow.

 The underground aquifer beneath the Little Miami River is of great value to the Village of Yellow Springs because it has a high volume of water and drains two forested parks.  It is possible to remove more Mn at the water treatment plant (although remodeling would be required), yet the finished water must still cross the plant site afterwards.  This is significant because the water table on the plain beside the landfill is sometimes very high - approximately at 7 ft below the surface (as reported in monitoring wells in January) and the pipes were laid in 1962. 

Our village government is discussing a change to purchased water for the village in the future.  Also a sewer connection is to be built soon from the plant to the Yellow Springs sewage treatment plant.  These may be the best options for us.  Drinking water and sewage treatment are two of the most important issues for a municipality  and the village needs to get moving on the water issue.  Yet, discontinuing the use of a well field of this stature needs information so that villagers can be involved.  There seem to be many questions (right) and it is hard to know what is best without more info.

 *these compounds have been found to cause damage to the liver, lungs, kidneys and nervous system in animal testing and one of them is considered a carcinogen.

Unanswered Questions:

Why did the EPA issue the SMCL for manganese  in 2004 yet just this year decide that our water is in violation?

Why did the Ohio EPA reduce the frequency of testing for volatile organic compounds in the well field water from annually to every 3 years?

Why did the annual water quality report stop reporting the level of 1,1-dichloroethane in well #1? The village manager stated that well #1 has not been used for several years, what is the relationship between testing and use?

Testing is the water user's friend, why is there a disconcerting vibe that testing isn't wanted (see above)?

Why are there inconsistencies between the Attainment (of full remediation) Plan and the Yellow Springs Wellfield Protection Plan?

Could the landfill be removed entirely from the plant site to go along with the termination of the plant's outdated sewer plant?

Is there any way to move the well field away from the plant or to reroute the pipeline?

What are the consequences of discontinuing the use of the well field? 

Will the plant resume operations once connected to the Yellow Springs sewer plant (and after testing of well water at the YS well field is ended by the switch to purchased water)? 

Will the village use the well field in any way after a switch to purchased water?  Will they sell water to the industrial plant if it reopens?

 How much in taxes will be paid to the Village of Yellow Springs if the plant reopens?

1,1,1 -trichloroethane can no longer be manufactured for use in the USA.  What chemicals would be used by the plant to operate if it reopens?

How much of the chemicals in the plant's waste water can be removed by our sewage treatment plant?

Will any chemicals exit the sewer plant and be sent into the Yellow Springs Creek (flows into the Little Miami River)? 

Will there be any consequences for the Xenia well field that is further downstream?