Monday, 18 November 2013

The East

Infiltrating its way to your Blu-Ray/DVD collection this month is 'The East' staring Ellen Page and a group of other people with whom I am not so in love with.

I have been led to believe that for some people having Ellen Page feature in a film isn’t a justifiable reason in spending money on it, so for those deluded souls I shall elucidate and elaborate. The East is basically a film about someone infiltrating an underground activist group with the intention of shutting them down. The whole premise of the film is questioning where the line is drawn between good or evil. In the world of comics, children's cartoons and in the news there are good people and bad people. In the real world there are just very opinionated people. Sometimes it crosses over and only polemics can save you from going one fifth mad. The best dramas in my humble opinion are the ones where you are constantly being forced to change your loyalties to the characters. When this is done properly you can be dragged around by the heartstrings until you don’t what’s ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ anymore.

An example would be: A man steals food (bad) but gives it to homeless children (good) without saving any for himself (saintly). It later turns out he was only doing this to give them enough strength to pickpocket money from people (bad), which he keeps for himself (devilish) so he can build a homeless shelter (good).

Sometimes when I’m watching these things I get a strange Stockholm syndrome for the characters; where once I’m convinced that someone is doing everything ultimately for the greater good they could make a snuff film suffocating kittens in bags and I’d still over look it. For a deeper look into this I severely suggest you watch Michael Sandel, who will definitely convince you that sometimes it might be ok to do a wee murder, but also to severely make you analyse yourself.

Anyway The East is about a woman called Jane who goes undercover to investigate the underground activist group the titular ‘East’. Using the cover name Sarah she befriends some of these people until they end up hitching a ide on a train. Everyone is playing the banjo, putting dreads in someone’s hair, discussing the hidden meanings in Bob Dylan songs and eating food found in bins, referencing the very real life style choice of ‘Freegans’. Freegan’s dislike the ways supermarkets etcetera throw food away after it’s hit it’s sell by date when it could still be eaten by humans. Of course this is a matter of opinion, some people eat kangaroo anuses on live television for some scrambling attempt to reclaim an inch of their fame and respect, which to me is like cutting off your arms to become a better guitar player.

So Sarah starts following these people so she can relay information about them to ‘Hillier Brood’ the company she works for. She eventually manages to infiltrate her way into ‘The East’ by cutting herself with a coke can and being taken to see their ‘off-the-grid” Doctor chappy. Eventually it is revealed that the Doc and his sister were horribly damaged by a perfectly legal drug given to them from a pharmaceutical company, Doc’s sister died and Doc ended up having some sort of DIY Parkinsons response to the drug and because it stated on the side of the bottle that this may occur, no one could get sued. See, this same company announced during a party that they are giving every member of the army this drug for free and that made the members of The East sick and angry like a wife finding another woman’s painted toenail in her cereal in the morning. Of course the seemingly normal human response to this would be to shake your fist angrily, forget about it and move on, but instead The East quite cleverly poison all the members of the company with their own drug. This leaves Jane/Sarah completely torn between who is the bad guy here.

Anyway this film is great, watch this film if you either have a lifelong crush on Ellen Page, and are starting to reach the age that watching Juno as often as you are borders on ‘probable cause’, or you just like having your morals tweaked and twanged and masturbated until you don’t know what’s what. Toby Kebbell is the actor who plays Doc and I’m not sure if you’ve seen Black Mirror but he a fucking outstanding actor, he has a way of grabbing the essence of frustration and emotion and acting so wonderfully that he somehow, with complete subtlety, wipes his feelings all over your stupid emotionless face. I wanted to dive into the television and shake his hand, though as part of the plot he had an aforementioned Parkinsons-esque condition so his hands were already shaking themselves. Also I’m not a magical wizard.

The only bad thing I’d say about the film is that it was very slow paced and maybe sometimes had a little lack of direction… also some people were very mean to Ellen Page. Nevertheless totally watchable and would sit beautifully amongst your Blu-Ray/DVD collection.

Dave Roberts

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