News Column

The thrills of corporate spying

September 13, 2013


Sept. 13--The world of corporate espionage is finally making it to the screen, with films such as the Clive Owen-Julia Roberts romantic thriller Duplicity and X Files writer Frank Spotnitz's TV show Hunted, starring Melissa George.

Actor-writer Brit Marling, 30, and writer-director Zal Batmanglij, who delivered a complex look at religious cults in last year's Sound of My Voice, collaborate again on The East, due Tuesday from Fox Searchlight, which costars Alexander Skarsg rd, Ellen Page, and Patricia Clarkson.

Marling stars as an FBI agent-turned-private-sector-spy hired to go undercover inside a new group of anti-consumerist ecoterrorists. The film has exciting action and romance, and great acting, and it raises important ethical questions about corporate responsibility and life in the age of hyper-consumerism. (; $22.98 DVD; $29.99 Blu-ray; rated PG-13)

Other DVDs of interest

Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder. Contrary to myth, German theater and film actor-writer-director Rainer Werner Fassbinder was not born a fully grown artist. He was a young filmmaker once.

Five of his earliest films are gathered in this boxed set from the Criterion Collection. Intense, unpolished, and shot guerrilla-style, they contain flashes of genius that made the prolific iconoclast a film legend. Prolific indeed: In his first 18 months, he made 10 films.

The set includes his debut feature, Love Is Colder Than Death (1969), a deconstruction of the American gangster genre; and two related films about crime, Gods of the Plague (1970) and The American Soldier (1970). The biting satire Katzelmacher (1969) takes apart German xenophobia, while Beware of a Holy Whore (1971) is a self-reflexive film about a film crew whose production grinds to a halt when the money runs out. (; $69.95; not rated)

Prime Suspect: The Complete Collection (Blu-ray). All hail to Acorn Media for finally giving American audiences a high-def edition of Lynda La Plante's masterpiece starring Helen Mirren. Includes the series' entire run. (; $119.99; not rated)

Vegas: The DVD Edition. CBS's period mob crime drama set in Sin City in the early 1960s didn't score well with critics or audiences. Part Mad Men, part Magic City, part Boardwalk Empire, Nicholas Pileggi's saga, which is due Tuesday, is nonetheless a hoot to watch, if only to see Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis square off mano-a-mano. (; $55.98; not rated)

Executive Suite. Wall Street director Oliver Stone provides a commentary track to one of his, and our, favorite films about the business world. William Holden, Barbara Stanwyck, Fredric March, and Walter Pidgeon star in director Robert Wise's stunning autopsy of the backbiting, backstabbing backroom dealings that prop up Wall Street. Daring on its release in 1954, it's even more relevant today. It's available directly from the Warner Archive Collection. (; $18.95; not rated)

The Lords of Salem. Extreme-horror auteur Rob Zombie is an acquired taste: You either love or hate his uncompromising work. He tackles the legacy of the Salem Witch Trials in this supernatural shocker that borrows liberally from Roman Polanski's Rosemary's Baby. (; $39.99 Blu-ray/DVD combo; Rated R)

We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks. Acclaimed documentarian Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) examines Julian Assange's whistle-blower organization, which has the potential to become one of the era's most powerful tools of social, political, and economic disruption. (; $19.98; rated R)

Major Crimes: The Complete First Season. Kyra Sedgwick's Brenda Leigh Johnson is gone. Get over it. Mary McDonnell leads TNT's The Closer spin-off. Watch it with that other celebration of female crimefighters, Rizzoli & Isles: The Complete Third Season, also from Warner Home Video. (; $39.98 each; not rated).

Contact Tirdad Derakhshani at 215-854-2736 or


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