Posts Tagged ‘ The East ’



Just An Observation Friday June 21st


 This week I have been mainly kept busy with the Edinburgh International Film Festival which officially started on Wednesday, although I have been attending press screenings since Monday. I must admit I was a little underwhelmed by the choice of opening film, Breathe  In, which starred Guy Pearce as although it was competent enough-the performances and cinematography are quite outstanding- it just didn’t resonate on any real emotional level.

 In some ways it was similar to the opening party held at the NationalMuseum on Wednesday night which despite being a red carpet affair failed to attract any major big names or make it onto the Scottish News. This contrasts with the new Brad Pitt film World War Z which although only filmed in Glasgow and premiered in the same evening as the Edinburgh event managed to secure a five minute news slot despite also having no major stars attending. Personally I thought this was a pretty poor show and someone in PR deserves to have their butt kicked for failing to secure the Festival with some much needed publicity.

 Of the films I have seen Svengali is the one which stands out so far. A pastiche/parody of the rock industry seen through the eyes of a modern day Billy Liar it is extremely acerbic, witty and even when it lapses into cliché and caricature still has something to recommend it. Showing today (Friday 21st) and tomorrow it is definitely worth catching.

 Elsewhere a documentary about growing old on the gay scene, Before You Know It, is also a worthwhile film. Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring is probably one of the bigger films premiering at the festival this year and although I haven’t had time to post a review yet it is a decent film focussing on a bunch of Los Angeles brats whose sense of entitlement to a celebrity lifestyle is so overwhelming they set out to steal it-quite literally- from the celebrities themselves. The East starring Alexander Skarsgard- Eric from HBO’S ‘True Blood’- about the moral dilemmas and questions raised by a group of Eco Terrorists is also worth catching as it is a stylish thriller which leaves many issues unresolved and is all the better for deploying this tactic.

 Other sad news came through this week that the great actor James Gandolfini had passed away at the age of 51. Best known for his role as Tony Soprano in ‘The Sopranos’ which was probably one of my favourite TV shows of all time and Gandolfini was instrumental in its success. Showing a different side to the life of a gangster we were able to empathise with many of his decisions whilst still realising that often the moral implications of what he did were wrong but somehow still justifiable. It also had the best ending to a final episode ever and with Gandolfini’s parting any chance of a revival will be laid to rest alongside him. Tony Soprano may sleep with the Fishes but may James Gandolfini-who went onto give strong performances in many films with The Man Who Wasn’t There, Killing Them Softly and Zero Dark Thirty among them, but it was as Tony Soprano that he secured his legacy- rest in peace.

 That is it for this week as I have to be at the cinema for press screenings later this morning. I must say I have observed that the majority of film reviewers are cut from the same cloth as far as I can see. That cloth being a check shirt, faded denims, converse and geek chic specs with facial hair an optional extra-for both male and female- as well as an overwhelming sense of their own importance. Well at least they are keeping Zara and RiverIsland afloat with their individual sense of fashion.

They also seem to wear a sense of self importance which means that after a film they have to check their phones whilst the credits are still rolling and thus filter out of the cinema without exchanging thoughts or even glances with anyone else as they are so wrapped up in their own  bubbles. When did everyone become so important that they believe that being incommunicado for a mere hour and a half means others must be so desperate to get hold of them? Perhaps the real life brats in Sofia Coppolas The Bling Ring are not so different after all.


The East


The East is an intelligent thriller focussing on an underground Eco Terrorist cell-The East of the title- who aim to disable giant pharmaceutical corporations who they believe are treating human fatalities as mere collateral damage whilst also destroying the environment at the same time. That is if they consider either of these things at all. Directed  by Zal Batmanglij and featuring stand out performances from Alexander Sklarsgard- Eric Northman in HBO’S True Blood franchise- and Brit Marling with strong support from Ellen Page, Toby Kebbell and Patricia Clarkson. Creating its own pace and allowing tension and intrigue to build up along the way it is no one dimensional plot line but instead opens up moral and ethical debates with no clear resolution sought or offered.

 At the core of the drama is Sarah Moss- Marling- a former federal agent who takes on undercover role in an attempt to expose and eventually halt a terrorist cell known as The East. Their motivation is to expose the unethical practices carried out by big corporations in their ongoing desire to increase profits with little or no regard to side effects or even eventual deaths the use of their products result in. After inveigling herself with the cell Sarah then finds her own motives and beliefs highly questionable and begins to sympathise with The East’s claims that these companies should be held to task.

 Along the way she becomes emotionally entangled with their charismatic and handsome self appointed leader Benji- Skarsgard- and finds her loyalties divided. Like most of his recruits Benji comes from a privileged background and this allows him and his cohorts a way of infiltrating the higher echelons of the firms on their hit list more than if they were from blue collar backgrounds. Despite being swayed by their rhetoric and proof that much wrong doing is going on Sarah is still unable to condone some of their more extreme acts of violence and instead seeks some other way of doling out retribution.

 The chemistry between all the actors on show is totally convincing with Skarsgard, Page and Marling all interacting with each other especially well. The only weak scene is near its conclusion when Sarah defends the terrorists’ actions to her boss revealing in the processes that she has been indoctrinated by their beliefs and immediately raising her suspicions.. It is played out a little too heavily handed and is far too obvious and loses much of the subtle impact of the film thus far. However this is a minor complaint and it is an interesting film which never lets up and at its conclusion allows the viewer to draw their own conclusions and make up their own minds as to who holds the higher moral ground. If anyone.

The East is showing at Cineworld on Thursday 20th June at 6pm and Sunday 23 June at 1.15pm.