Activists vs. Terrorists

Recently, I’ve been moved.  Spiritually awakened, if you will. And so, the trend continues – I am infinitely being inspired by what I see and do in LA. This past weekend, I saw The East.

Despite a pre-show debacle over who gets which seat, and the misfortune of having a giant man sitting directly in front of me – his head covered about 1/6th of the screen at all times, even as I tried desperately to out maneuver him – I was still invested wholeheartedly in the film, from beginning to end.

Since I’m a film major, one would assume it to be impossible to enjoy a movie by my side. Well, I’ll have you know I kept the comments viewer friendly. I wasn’t commenting on the editing. I didn’t talk to my neighbors about the cinematography.  I didn’t even nudge Natasha when the score moved me (I did poke her, though, when our yoga instructor made a cameo). I was captivated by something else.

The story.

It’s been far too long since I’ve taken something away from a film, other than to avoid predictability. Yes, there was Kings of Summer and The Way Way Back – characters bursting with likability.  They were quirky and memorable. But, like I said, they were all brainlessly likable. But, really, it’s been since the 1940’s where a character has truly challenged me to pick a side. The end of the Westerns brought about some tragic “heros” and Billy Wilder always told the truth, even if we didn’t want to hear it.

Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij, the writer, director, and actors of The East, told an authentic story. Why, you ask? Because they told it from all sides.

When I got home, I plopped my laptop on my bed and did my research. These filmmakers graduated from Georgetown with degrees in Economics and Anthropology. They made this remarkable movie with no professional film training.

If you haven’t already figured this out, let me enlighten you. We are at a remarkable time for filmmakers. We no longer need their permission. We don’t need approval from the studios. We don’t have to sign A list actors. We don’t need to sell our art to get it out. All we need is a start date, as Brit Marling puts it.


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