Hammerle on … 'The East,' 'The Purge'

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bob hammerle movie reviewsThe East

“The East” is one of those wonderful films that you should not let escape the theater. While it won’t appeal to everyone, it is a powerful film that embodies the memorable words of Peter Finch in his Oscar-winning performance in “Network” (1976), when he stated, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!”
Director Zal Batmanglij’s movie focuses on an intriguing group of domestic terrorists dedicated to holding American corporations accountable for their profound excesses. For example, one of their public mottos is, “You poison us, we’ll poison you.”

You come to admire them despite the 

fact that they freely violate the law. How can you not embrace this cluster of rogues who simply want to ensure that industrial companies that pollute our rivers and streams pay for their public sins? Can it really be kidnapping to force the CEO of an oil refinery that has been secretly dumping hazardous wastewater – threatening the health of working people living nearby – to literally swim in their polluted waters?rate-east
In an attempt to infiltrate our anarchist group, an intelligence firm headed by the cryptic Patricia Clarkson sends an operative played by Brit Marling to work undercover. Marling’s operative is tremendous as a young woman whose initial condemnation of the group mutates as she begins to identify with its members. Her confusion deepens with her personal attraction to the head of the group, a young man powerfully played by Alexander Skarsgard. Far from a self-righteous thug, he is dedicated to risking his life for the cause.

Also standing out is Toby Kebbell, playing a former doctor who is physically and emotionally scarred from the hidden side-effects of a popular pharmaceutical drug. For him, it is time to settle a score with the leaders of the responsible drug company in one of the most searing sequences of the film.

But it is the performance of Ellen Page that reaches up and grabs you by the throat. Playing a young woman known as Izzy, she memorably fights to get even with her wealthy father, leading to profound tragedy. If you doubt Ms. Page’s talents, think of her as the girl with the bad attitude in “Hard Candy” (2000); the nasty little Kitty Pryde in “X-Men: The Last Stand” (2006); her knockout role as the pregnant young girl in “Juno” (2007); the kick-ass rollerblader in “Whip It” (2009); her contribution to the great success of “Inception” (2010), and her endearing portrayal of the foolish fake super hero known as Boltie in “Super” (2010). This native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, is a human work of art.

Finally, 2013 has brought us a series of interesting films that are co-written by actresses who then appear on screen. Much like Greta Gerwig did in the delightful “Frances Ha” and Julie Delpy again accomplished in “Before Midnight,” Ms. Marling breathes life into her own script. These women have helped to create stories that give an exciting, edgy nuance to their gender, and movie audiences benefit as a result.

The Purge

“The Purge” is a slashing exposé of political thought in this country masquerading as a futuristic sci-fi/horror film. In what appears to be a rehash of prior films involving a family under siege in their own home, writer/director James DeMonaco lays waste to Tea Party proponents and their conservative acolytes. It’s a human recreation of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” (1945).

As everyone knows, the daily mantra heard in the House of Representatives in Washington as well as on Fox News is the need to cut the national deficit. While supporters embrace using taxpayer money to remodel luxury suites at the Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium, they cry out to reduce Social Security and Medicare payments to our aging population. They won’t dare allow any reasonable changes in our gun laws, but they embrace slashing food stamps for our hungry children.

What Mr. DeMonaco has done with “The Purge” is create a future America in 2022 that embodies the Tea Party philosophy to the extreme. Modern day Founding Fathers are applauded for reducing crime and public expenditure by creating a 12-hour period every year in March when no laws apply to anything. In other words, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., you can kill, maim and rob at your leisure.

On the surface, the film involves the family of home security salesman James Sandin who pay the price for kindness. Though they and other well-to-do Americans are able to secure their property in a fashion that makes them nearly completely safe, Mr. Sandin’s son permits a besieged black man to enter their home to avoid impending death. The question concerns whether the stranger truly is in dire need, or was he simply using a ruse to kill the family?
Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey play the Sandins, and they do a superb job of embracing the consequences of a society that has turned upside down. They soon find their house under siege by a group of intriguing killers who only want the wealthy Sandins to turn over their seemingly homeless refugee or pay the consequences.

What follows is a ghastly ordeal for the Sandins. In effect, what “The Purge” represents is the United States twisting the Tea Party’s demand to reduce food stamp payments by simply killing the poor and unemployed.

The public and news media are seen praising a country for recognizing the need to eliminate the homeless begging on every street corner when not in prison, not to mention constantly living on the public dole. Since none of them have the financial means to secure their safety during the purge, why not wipe out as many as possible during a 12-hour period every year?

In “The Purge” we see the results of a horrific national policy that reduces the need to care for the poor, the elderly and the dispossessed. If the government doesn’t care if they suffer, why worry if they die?

The problem for the Sandins becomes a problem for all of us. If you try to act in the name of heaven, don’t you then become as expendable as those desperate people on the run?•


Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit The opinions expressed are those of the author.


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.