Company Town

Looking for another exposé of a huge corporation devastating poor people and the planet? Hate the Koch Bros? Don’t mind laughably crude production? Company Town was made for you.

Directors Natalie Kottke and Erica Sardarian tell the story of Crossett, Ark, a small town dependent on the Koch Brothers’ paper and chemical manufacturer Georgia-Pacific. Ironically, the production of Brawny paper towels and Angel Soft toilet paper has done the opposite of cleaning. Rather, it has turned the local river into a steaming, ashy mess while spreading cancer throughout the community. It’s the quintessential evil-corporation-annihilates-local-town film, and it’s worth our attention.

“…it’s a tenacious fuck-The-Man home video cobbled together clumsily to expose our country’s worst brothers.”

Unfortunately, it’s hard to watch. The camerawork is barely passable. The subjects go way too deep into unrelated family history. Very few scenes feature live-action. The somber epilogue abruptly transitions to end credits with joyous music. The silhouetted interviewee is hardly anonymous, and their sole venture into creativity is an inexplicable superimposition of the darkened face over itself.

Still, the story deserves circulation for the sake of the Crossett community afflicted with “door-to-door cancer”. Kottke and Sardarian are effective in revealing the despicable lengths Georgia-Pacific went to in order to cover up the “the Crossett Crud”, ranging from health waivers (with payouts much smaller for minorities) that expunged the company of all responsibility, to pursuing federal indictments against former contractors for talking to the EPA.

“…it’ll become just another anti-Koch doc on in the ‘Koch Bros Takedowns’ genre in your Netflix suggestions.”

Speaking of the EPA, the federal agency proves itself absolutely pathetic by desperately attempting to avoid involvement, submitting to Georgia-Pacific’s political authority. Even local water control agencies listlessly pander to the corporate bully. After all, it’s a company town.

Former Obama Adviser Van Jones is the one recognizable “expert” talking head. Beyond that, it’s a tenacious fuck-The-Man home video cobbled together clumsily to expose our country’s worst brothers. You’ve got to appreciate the intent, but a film like this needs more adept production in order to reach a wide audience. Now that the EPA is under control of the Koch Bros dear friend Scott Pruitt, there’s no way it will instigate any action from them. Perhaps the film will inspire somebody powerful to stand up, but more likely it’ll become just another anti-Koch doc on in the “Koch Bros Takedowns” genre in your Netflix suggestions.

Company Town (2017) Written and directed by Natalie Kottke and Erica Sardarian. Starring David Bouie, Cheryl Slavant and Wilma Subra.

4 out of 10 Oscars

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