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Themes and Memes

Themes and Memes is a different kind of movie review. It is a podcast that delves deep into the dark side of Hollywood films including subjects such as culture creation, state sponsorship, propaganda, predictive programming, occult symbolism and deep subtext. Be sure to listen and subscribe to the feed.
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Sep 23, 2016

On this episode, we look at the 2013 Indie Spy Drama, The East Directed by Zal Batmanglij.

The film follows corporate intelligence operative 'Jane' (played by co-writer Brit Marling) as she is tasked with infiltrating a radical anarchist cell who have been attacking high profile industrialists in retaliation for their corporate crimes. Calling themselves 'The East', the group operates on an 'eye for an eye' strategy, targeting high level corporate executives with specific acts of violence to mirror the suffering of their victims. 

After forging her cover identity and blending into the nomadic underground of anarchist drifters, 'Sarah' finds herself at the The East's secret headquarters and eventually adopts an active role within the group. As her time undercover wears on though, she begins to feel split loyalties between The East and her corporate employers; questioning her conservative worldview and developing genuine sympathy for the group and their anarchic cause. 

But despite her political awakening and her growing loyalty to The East, Jane soon finds that all is not what it seems.

We discuss the many strong points of the film, being an independently written story with well conceived plot devices and engrossing character development; where the clash of political ethos and social attitudes conveys a number of complex perspectives. We explore questions of perception and self-interest, looking at the contrast between ideas of consumerism and freeganism, and how wilful ignorance allows corruption to flourish. 

We also touch on the bohemian, pragmatic outlook of both the corporate establishment and the off-grid anarchists, where the ends justify the means and the notion of self-righteousness becomes an end unto itself. 

Is industrial crime a question of conspiracy or ignorance, and what actions are justified in stopping it?

Topics discussed include: Hiller Brood, Private Intelligence, Infiltration, Undercover, Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page, Anarchists, Conservative, Consumerism, Materialism, Capitalism, Ignorance, Conspiracy, Industry, Pollution, Environmentalism, Freeganism, Rail Riding, Dumpster Diving, Squatting, Nomads, Big Pharma, Oil, Medications, Corruption, Sympathy, Terrorism, Lifestyles, Perception, Perspective, Loyalty, Revolution, Conflict, Females, Gender, Interpretation, Indie Films, Characters, Love Triangle, Economics, Espionage, Politics, Wastefulness, Direct Action, Jams, Radicalism, Violence, Food, FBI, Ethics, Bohemian, Cold War, Far-Left, Corporations, Pragmatism, Crime, Executives, Military-Industrial Complex, Competition, Publicity, Rationalism, Trump, Comfort, Security, Nature, Consequences, Victims, Spaghetti, Pasta, Meatballs. 

2 Comments
  • over twelve months ago
    Adam
    I'm pretty sure I read that somewhere a while ago, (Goldman Sachs etc) but the problem with podcasts is that you can never remember everything.. I will be recording a short solo podcast on this though, just sharing some afterthoughts and covering a few points we didn't get round to.

    One of the most interesting points I wanted to touch on is that the film seems to be suggesting that 'Benji' was playing both sides of the field - he knew too much and threw the rest of them to the wolves. Perhaps not a 'double-agent' in the strictest sense, but someone who was exploiting both sides of the game.

    Thanks for the support and stay tuned ;)

    -Adam
  • over twelve months ago
    0use4msm
    In comparing Brit Marling's past to her role in the film, you bring up her stint as a freegan but not the fact that prior to that she worked at Goldman Sachs (one of those double names like Hiller Brood). Which begs the question how authentic her freegan slumming really was.

    I like your choice of films and your approach to them.
    Keep up the good work.

    Greetings from Amsterdam, NL