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 have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  2. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  3. Paul Hartman of Burbank, Oh who is helping Sister Fuller with this Con Artist Kevin Bart McCarthy scares Sister Joseph Therese, Patricia Ann Fuller very much that McCarthy will try and hurt Patricia Ann Fuller and Paul Hartman of Burbank, Oh or any member of his family. Sister is very, very scared, (YES, I AM) This McCarthy guy is a real, real CON MAN and crook. I try to totall flatter Kevin Bart McCARTHY to keep him from hurting my best friends in this world which are Carolyn Rose and Paul Hartman. I Live in total fear of this man Kevin Bart McCarthy and try to praise him as a good man to keep us ALL from his bad deeds. This man could easy have some one cause us a very bad disability. You have to PRAISAE in order TO PROTECT yourself. He lies and makes up stories about people and then tries to steal if THEY OWN THRU THE COURTS A SPECIAL DEVOTION TO PROTECT, EX> Our Lady of America DEVOTION. EVERYONE who reads this, PLEASE BE CAREFUL of Kevin Bart McCarthy of Indianapolis, IN My Phone No. IS 419-435-3838.

  4. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

  5. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.