Friday, June 7, 2013

The East

As I always practice and frequently preach, I try my best to avoid knowing anything about a movie prior to seeing it.  Almost always, the less you know about a film going in, the more you will enjoy it.  And this is particularly true for the best films.  Though I am generally aware of the writer, director, and principal cast.  And when I saw this film on Sundance's slate last January, featuring Brit Marling, directed by Zal Batmanglij, and cowritten by both Batmanglij and Marling, the incredible duo behind 'Sound of My Voice', it immediately became one of my most anticipated films of the year.  And it totally held up to my expectations.  Marling and Batmanglij are among the best new filmmakers to arise out of the last few years, making films that are suspenseful, original, thought provoking, and extremely well made despite a very limited budget.

As per usual, I won't say much about the movie.  But, I'm very intrigued by all the movies and shows lately about cults, communes, and collectives (e.g. 'Sound of My Voice', 'Martha Marcy May Marlene', 'The Master', 'The Following') and this one deals with a similar idea, yet significantly different than any of the aforementioned.  The cast is perfect, including Marling, Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page, Patricia Clarkson, and Jason Ritter.  And it keeps you guessing from its enigmatic beginning to its thought provoking ending.  It's not fast paced by any stretch, but those with patience who yearn for something different should definitely see it.  Frankly, it's Academy Award Best Picture worthy, or at least Best Original Screenplay worthy, and my favorite of the year so far.

Oh, and two other tips:  If you haven't seen 'Sound of my Voice', do yourself a favor and check it out.  It made my top 10 of 2012.  And if you get a chance to see Marling and Batmanglij in person for a Q&A, take it!  They are fascinating, humble, and inspiring.

Grade: A

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