Thursday, June 27, 2013

The East Movie Review

The East, (Sundance Film selection) directed by Zal Batmanglij, is a provocative thriller focused on an anarchist collective/commune that points its' efforts at major corporations that lay waste and ruin to, both, the environment and people's lives.  This movie takes a hard swing at major oil companies that spill and kill, pharmaceuticals that profit on drugs that kill or mame humans, and dumpers who ruin rivers and land as they sit, fat, in their gated communities while people develop cancer downstream. 

I love this film.  Watching it, I was comforted with a sense of hope that there is, still in this corrupt world in which we live, a fighter, some resolve, an underdog that stands up to all that is the antithesis of life and living - corrupt corporations.  It drives hard, is scary, and is very, very intense.  It reminded of a day in 1991 when i lay in bed, shocked, reading an article in the San Francisco Chronicle revealing that a geologic survey team inspecting the ocean floor just outside the Farallon Islands(our fishery) had discovered two fields(40,000 barrels, each) of the highest radioactive waste ever made.  They had found the waste product of the bombs that we made in WW2 and dropped on Japan.  The oil drums they used were rusted and rotting and there was mass leakage and no way to clean it up.  It made me very upset.  I had dreamed of joining some group like Greenpeace that, actually, gave a shit about the world.  Unfortunately, I never became that success.  So very refreshing to see that spirit I once had in this film - even if they do kill people. Those barrels, still, lay leaking in the heart of our fishing you didn't know that..... 

The East takes us, deep, undercover with an ex-FBI agent turned into corporate spy who spies with the purpose, solely, to infiltrate underground groups seeking to expose and punish those very corporations who ruin our world.  As the layers peel away, the plot thickens into blood-deep turmoil.  There is betrayal, some Big Brother, raw sex and all the drama to draw you in to what equates to an "anarchists' breakfast club around a campfire.  Think "V" for Vendetta crossed with a band of Anonymous/GreenPeace, underground rebels.

If I have to have a criticism(s) of this film, I will say, some acting parts were a little drab and the plot could have played out a bit more fluidly.  Regardless, it succeeds in gripping and pulling you in.  In its' layers,  is a story within a story as the main character, played by Brit Marling, finds herself listening, learning, evolving as a human.  Set in the season of fall on the East Coast of the United States, our ex-FBI agent finds herself in a metamorphosis - a butterfly amongst vigilant, intellectual, hippies that have welcomed her right into their home where the browning leaves, outside, fall from the safety of their home in the trees.

After the first "jam" they pull off - their first act of revenge - one where people die.....I found myself asking the age-old question, "do two wrongs make a right?"  At first, I was looking for the right thing in my mind, the Ghandi, the pacifist, the moral.  But, then, I caught on and was absorbed into the horror that this group and its' ideals rain-down upon their targets.  If they kill the CEO of a company that is giving children brain tumors down river, then, it is a RIGHT to kill one bad guy to save multitudes of innocents....especially if this CEO so many of them do....that they were reaping earnings based on the sickness and demise of others that they were causing.  If the law is not doing its' job, then, somebody else should.  Hard swings should be taken when babies are forming brain tumors.  Examples should be made and, then, what is being poured into the river will stop.

Pairing this movie with a fine wine is a no-brainer.  Deep and intense, I would grab a bottle of the 2011 Rock Wall Petite Sirah from Jack's Dry Creek Vineyard.  100% estate fruit, this wine is dark and inky with layers upon layers of blackberry and dark raspberry with violet notes and a silky finish  that makes it, all, balance so well.  Mostly, it is the intensity and dense, dark fruit of this wine that render it a perfect pairing for such a disturbing and moving film as The East.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

World War Z Review

World War Z, starring Brad Pitt is the summer zombie blockbuster that all of us Walking Dead fans were waiting for.  Speeding zombies - ones that run at high speeds and are very alert as they scratch up impenetrable walls - lay the groundwork for some freaky, intense, close calls.   For many, it was received with gusto.  For myself, I found it very fun but lacking in any punch, which,  I so very much love to see Brad Pitt throw.
When Pitt got in this ring, his arms seemed to be tied behind his back.  Pitt acted just fine for his serious role in this horror film with the new and  inventive concept of high-speed, super-freak, zombies.  However, there was no, true, Brad Pitt that showed up to play.  The on-screen champion just wasn't there.  He had no accent like he did in Inglorious Basterds(yes, with an "E").  He had no insanity-mojo as in Twelve Monkeys where he threw his dirty fingers into the air as the disturbed and all-too convincing psychiatric patient.  There was no fight in this, Fight Club.  His role was the hero but he was just a hero with nothing more special than "he who escapes zombies."

Did i enjoy it?  Yes, very much.  I love zombie movies and the pile-ups and the great, narrow escapes were truly a new evolution in zombie films.  No longer do we need to sit in a theater, scared but, yawning, as the evil and undead limp sluggishly along in their attack.  This film was fearsome....people get munched, big-time.

But for any big-time scares this movie throws at you, the end is typical and has, already, been used.  They finish in an underground laboratory - much like the one in Resident Evil - a hive where the cure has to be stolen from under the noses of roomful of hungry zombies so that humanity can be saved.  It has been done, before.  Sorry.

As the concept behind World War Z  was killer- even though Brad Pitt wasn't, I want to pair this film with a good wine - not one that is poured at a first-class gathering under a chandelier where crown roast is served but a wine that is a lot of fun for the summertime.  For this, I present to you the 2010 Sobon Estates Cougar Hill(gold medalist).  This gem of a zinfandel from the Shenandoah Valley in Amador County(Sierra Foothills) springs to life in your mouth with deep, blackberry fruit with hints of cranberry, mint, anise, and chocolate.  Pair this wine with summer BBQ as it is perfect for any grilling you may be doing outdoors.