Directed by: Stacey Stone
Written by: Stacey Stone. Diane Mellen
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Nuclear waste. Asbestos. Cancer and coverups. I'm not writing about the latest political thriller, medical drama, or scandal mini-series event on television. But, it's safe to say that even the craziest and dramatic of all the above doesn't hold a candle to the conversations of Stacey Stone and Diane Mellen's film Toxic Sh!t. From Simi Valley to Hunters Point, this film covers a lot of areas, and all of it full of toxic shit.
While it's always lovely to see some work of the late Ed Asner, there's so much more to this documentary than a famous name. Actually, Ed's narration and brief appearance only serve to get the engine going with this film, and once revved up, Toxic Sh!t grinds through without a hitch. I use the term "grind" because the content itself is almost unbearable to watch by anyone with even a sense of decency. Toxic Sh!t starts out with the "covered up for over 20 years" nuclear incident at the Simi Valley Rocketdyne plant and spreads out to cover the incident decades later. The housing market, property values, failed disclosures, government coverups, iffy cleanups... you think it, and it's probably in this film. The film eventually stretches out to talk about asbestos, and the Raybestos cases and the Hunters Point environmental issues and denials. All in all, there's a lot covered in this film, but it all points to the same thing: greed and corruption.
The presentation of Toxic Sh!t includes the required interview pieces, landscape imagery, and animations. It's all packaged together with some hip-hop-ish background music and a strong political vibe. The stance of the film is crystal clear, and the truth is, why wouldn't it be? Anyone with a lick of common sense will be patting Stone and Mellen on the back for producing such a great documentary with such a solid message. Except for the big cheeses of the corporate world who will cower into their couches inch by inch as the movie progresses. Even the "not so" big cheeses of the world, the regular working folks may find themselves a little uncomfortable at times. The realters of the area, some of the residents, etc., etc. You can't perform these kinds of actions without the help of normal everyday people, which brings the film again back to the money factor.
Toxic Sh!t is a no holds barred, often angry look at what money can do to people and what some will do to keep it all secret. Even when things finally bubble up and into the public eye, there are those who will deny everything. Watching this film was like watching an episode of the X-Files sometimes. If you're not angry, you should be, and if nothing else, Toxic Sh!t reminds us all of that.