August 14, 2014

The East (2013)

Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgård, Ellen Page, Patricia Clarkson

Let's start with how hot Alexander Skarsgård is. I had intended to lead with Brit Marling and how I've decided I like her, but literally could not restrain myself from writing the words "Alexander Skarsgård is hot" first. It's kind of unbelievable. Having never watched True Blood, I had no idea why people gushed over him - I just assumed it was because he frequently got naked in the show. I now know why the show had so many fans. He should be naked in every movie/tv show he shoots. It's like Alexander Skarsgård is the guy Michael Fassbender is trying to be. And to top it off, he's 6'4"! Now excuse me while I go rearrange my Top 5 list...

Ok, back to Brit Marling. The more I think about the way she made her break into the Hollywood scene, the more I admire her. She's not the most amazing actress I've ever seen, but using the same argument as legions of Taylor Swift fans -- she writes her own stuff! Except that this movie addresses highly complex political issues in an interesting format and Taylor Swift writes the exact same song over and over again to slightly different tunes. (Some guy doesn't like me - wah!)

Brit Marling seems especially impressive in comparison to Ellen Page, who yet again, seems miscast. I'm not entirely sure whether it's because she did such a good job in Juno that it's difficult to imagine her in any other role, or if it's because Ellen Page is just not a very good actress. What I do know is that she bugs me in this movie and the only time she felt believable as her character was when she was yelling. So I guess she should just be in movies with Samuel L. Jackson.

The movie itself is not just a thriller, but what I'm certain Netflix would categorize as a "social issues thriller," which is a weirdly specific genre. I'd mock it, but I actually think the topic of an anarchist group targeting corporations that have caused damage is both timely and supremely interesting, especially in this era of "corporations are people" madness. But I can't pretend the lifestyle of the anarchist group in this movie isn't my definition of a nightmare. Don't get me wrong - I care about the environment. I both recycle and compost, dust with old socks, and wash and reuse plastic sandwich bags. And if you haven't seen this video that's been circulating the internet on reducing food waste, you should. But I draw the line at eating food out of a dumpster. And I don't camp. I think it's gross. And squatting in some abandoned house with no modern amenities definitely qualifies as camping.

There are still some weird indie movie things that perhaps weren't needed (eating with straight jackets, communal bathing) and a really awkward game of spin the bottle with people who are way too old to be playing that, but the overall plot was captivating enough it didn't matter. In fact, the longer I watched the movie, the more I began to drink the indie Kool-Aid and stopped feeling annoyed at the random nude interludes and saw it as a fitting reflection of the environment these characters would live in. Besides, the communal bathing scene offers another glimpse of Alexander Skargård shirtless, so...

Final word: I almost became an eco-terrorist after watching this movie, if for no other reason than because I want to live in a house with Alexander Skarsgård.

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