Friday, June 28, 2013

The East (Rhoades)

“The East”
Picks Sides

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Britt Marling is a hyphenate, as they say in Hollywood. She an amazingly talented actress … an intelligent screenwriter … and sometimes producer of movies. She’s even directed and helmed the camera as cinematographer.

This 31-year-old wunderkind turned down high-paying jobs in the financial world in order to act. But mostly she got offered roles as “the cute blonde in horror movies” so she starting writing scripts, reasoning that the best way to get good roles was to write them.

It seems to have worked.

She explains, “I always started writing in order to act. I don’t know that I could have the discipline to sit down and write if I was going to give it away. That would be too hard. But I love to act in stories that are outside my imagination because I can only conceive of so many things from my point of view. The thing that’s intoxicating about being an actor is that you get to live in someone else's world for a while and I hope to do more of that. But I think I’ll never stop writing now because I’m wondering why there aren’t more representatives of women that are like the women we know. Where’s the film with the women who are complicated and strong and beautiful and sexy and interesting and of all body types? You don’t get to see enough of them.”

You’ll remember her as the star-writer-producer of “Another Earth,” the sci-fi story of a parallel world starring Tom Cruise’s cousin.

And now here she is starring in Zal Batmanjili’s “The East.” Also she co-wrote and co-produced it with Batmanjili. It’s playing this week at the Tropic Cinema.

This is a story about an undercover security agent who infiltrates an eco-terrorist group known as The East. The group is targeting large corporations who commit crimes against the environment. Although sent to spy on them, Jane Owen (Marling) becomes infatuated with its idealistic members (Alexander Skarsgård and Ellen Page, among them), becoming sympathetic to their goals. Her boss (Patricia Clarkson) is not happy with the situation.

While the anarchist group was entirely fictionalized, “every instance of corporate corruption is based, in exact and excruciating detail, on actual incidents of gruesome real-life corporate corruption,” says Marling.
Some moviegoers see this as a one-sided indictment of corporate America. Defenders say the movie isn’t balanced because the world isn’t balanced these days. Others see it as evidence “when unregulated capitalism prevails, the bottom line trumps human life and common sense.”

Like the cult in Sean Durkin’s “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” Marlin and Batmanjili cannot quite bring themselves to condemn this anarchist cult. However, as the old saying goes, Qui tacet consentíre vidétur. This makes it clear where their sympathies lie.

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