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DOC TALK

Horizon event, a different beat, Q’ing up, the importance of starting early

From "The Cost of Silence."
From "The Cost of Silence."John Wathan/Sundance Institute

In 2010 Deepwater Horizon, a British Petroleum oil-drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico, exploded in an immense fireball visible from the Louisiana shore 40 miles away. The disaster killed 11 workers and released millions of gallons of oil from a ruptured well on the ocean floor. The vast spill headed inexorably for the US coast. Then, as Mark Manning reports in his thorough and unsettling documentary “The Cost of Silence,” it seemed to dissipate, almost disappear.

Manning headed to the Gulf with a film crew and spent the next nine years investigating, checking on local residents and clean-up workers and discovering a huge cover-up. The cases of chronic illness, cancer, and premature death had soared well above the national average. To clean up the mess BP had sprayed it with torrents of chemical dispersants that broke down the oil but then combined with it to make a substance 52 times more toxic. Planes spraying the stuff inadvertently unloaded it on local communities. And with the connivance of federal agencies such as the EPA and the Coast Guard BP downplayed news of this and ignored the plight of those stricken.

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As bad as the consequences of this catastrophe were, Manning warns that what may be coming up will be worse. The Trump administration has plans to open up the entire coastline of the country to deep-sea oil drilling by 2021. That would put half the population at risk of suffering the same fate as the thousands still suffering the consequence of a single incident that occurred over 10 years ago.

NewportFILM will screen “The Cost of Silence” on July 9 at 7:15 p.m. at a pop-up drive-in in the parking lot of Easton’s Beach, 175 Memorial Blvd., Newport, R.I.

Go to newportfilm.com/films/the-cost-of-silence and, for guidelines on attending, newportfilm.com/newportfilm-drive-in-guidelines.

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Link Wray in the 1970s.
Link Wray in the 1970s.Kino Lorber

Missing Link

You might not know the name of the song or the musician but chances are you will recognize the opening chords of Link Wray’s 1958 rock ‘n’ roll instrumental “Rumble.” Rhythmic and menacing, hypnotic and sexy, it was the only instrumental banned from the airwaves. Bob Dylan has said it was the best ever made.

Wray is one of the many musicians of Native American descent featured in Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana’s documentary “Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World” (2017). Arguably without them there would be no rock music as we know it today. They include bluesman Charley Patton, guitar genius Jimi Hendrix, ethereal protest singer Buffy Sainte-Marie, the leader of The Band, Robbie Robertson, and a rare clip of Pat Vegas of Redbone fame performing on the hoary ’60s TV show “Shindig!” Generous with its musical selection, “Rumble” shows that roots of American rock ‘n’ roll go all the way back to those who first lived here.

“Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World” can be streamed on the Criterion Channel.

Go to www.criterionchannel.com/rumble-the-indians-who-rocked-the-world.

Suzi Quatro in 1976.
Suzi Quatro in 1976.Utopia Distribution

Rock and role model

In 1973 Suzi Quatro from Detroit strapped on a bass guitar as big as herself and belted out “Can the Can” on the BBC’s “Top of the Pops.” With her black leather jumpsuit, propulsive playing and near-shrill vocals, she surged with the kind of energy most audiences were not used to from a female performer.

The song was a hit in Britain and Europe but it did poorly in the United States, a market Quatro never quite cracked. She wouldn’t earn the kind of success that later rockers such as Deborah Harry, Joan Jett, Chrissie Hynde, or Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads would receive, but as those rock legends testify in “Suzi Q,” Liam Firmager’s unabashedly laudatory documentary about Quatro’s multifaceted, five-decade-long career, she inspired them.

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With Quatro as guide, Firmager follows her progress, from the all-girl garage band she formed in 1964 with her sisters after they saw the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show” to the ups-and-downs of her solo career, to eclectic side trips, such as her appearances on the ’70s sitcom “Happy Days” as the character Leather Tuscadero and her starring role in a production of “Annie Get Your Gun.” Altogether she has sold 50 million albums, releasing her most recent, “No Control,” in 2019.

“Suzi Q” can be streamed on iTunes, Amazon, and other major VOD platforms.

Go to www.suziqmovie.com.

From "No Small Matter."
From "No Small Matter."Abramorama

Class privilege

Back in the 4th century BCE Aristotle reputedly said, “Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.” Over a millennium and a half later Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, made the same claim. Danny Alpert, Greg Jacobs, and Jon Siskel’s documentary “No Small Matter” puts the age at 5 and presents compelling evidence from researchers using advanced brain-scanning technology and other methods that by then much of the brain’s development has been set.

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This is bad news for middle- and working-class families in which both parents must work and for whom good childcare is unaffordable, and especially for those lower on the economic ladder who are beset by poverty, broken homes, addiction, and other debilitating conditions.

The lack of proper early education lessens a child’s chances of success, increases the likelihood of misfortune, and upholds a system of economic and class privilege. It also guarantees the perpetuation and proliferation of social problems that will cost a lot more to deal with in the future than would investing today in programs that would address those problems. Another reason to invest in these programs is that it is the right thing to do, or as St. Ignatius might put it, “If [we are] not marked by caring for the poor, the oppressed, the hungry, we are guilty of heresy.”

“No Small Matter” can be streamed via the Coolidge Corner Theatre’s Virtual Screening Room beginning July 10.

Go to coolidge.org/films/no-small-matter.

Peter Keough can be reached at petervkeough@gmail.com.