The Fifth Estate

RUSH

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Rush Formula 1 racing reached its most exciting and dangerous time in the ’60s and ’70s, and for a time the sport’s biggest stars were James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). The two men approached racing from completely different perspectives, with one in it for the fun and celebrity while the other appreciated its meticulous nature and the allure of being the actual best. Ron Howard hasn’t made a compelling film in well over a decade, and the last one that fully entertained was 1996′s Ransom. So yes, I’m more than a little surprised that his period piece about a sport that means nothing to me is a film that enthralls from the first scene and never lets up its grip. The acting and details are strong throughout, with Brühl in particular delivering the dramatic goods, but the racing drama is equally exciting. It’s a damn fine film, and it shows that Howard isn’t out of the picture just yet. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes]

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Assange

This weekend, Bill Condon‘s The Fifth Estate suffered the worst opening of 2013, bringing in an unfathomable $1.7m from 1769 theaters. Getaway opened better. Movie 43 opened better. Naturally, nobody is more pleased with this news than comic book supervillain Julian Assange, who has sent signals from his lair inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to consistently voice his disproval of the project. Assange’s boycott against the film, which he condemned for portraying him in a biased and negative light, finally cumulated in the release of his own WikiLeaks film, a free documentary available on the website called Mediastan. In what is sure to definitely not be biased at all and portray him with a glowing halo, the documentary depicts “Operation Cablerun,” in which thousands upon thousands of American diplomatic cables were posted by WikiLeaks in collaboration with The Guardian and The New York Times. “This weekend,” Assange said in a statement, “instead of wasting your time and money on Hollywood propaganda, why not get all your friends around and spend your time watching Mediastan instead?”

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Assange

Julian Assange has not been a happy man this year. Being cooped up in an embassy is bad enough, but there have been not one but two high-profile films released that have pissed him off. Being portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch was not enough to assuage his anger over the treatment of his story in Bill Condon’s The Fifth Estate, a dramatic film opening this weekend. Earlier this year, WikiLeaks went so far as to publish an annotated transcription of Alex Gibney‘s documentary We Steal Secrets, pointing out every single alleged libel and inaccuracy in the movie. So, of these two films, which is more worth the time of someone looking to learn more about WikiLeaks, Assange, and government secrets? Truthfully, both movies are problematic. But We Steal Secrets is far and away the better prospect. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE AT NONFICS

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The Fifth Estate

Editor’s note: Our review of The Fifth Estate originally ran during this year’s TIFF, but we’re re-posting it as the film opens today in theatrical release. If nothing else, Bill Condon’s tone-deaf and inept The Fifth Estate will make plain the impact that the controversial Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks have had on modern journalism, the Internet, and whistle-blowing in general. Unfortunately, little of the depth and power of Assange’s work is conveyed via adept filmmaking, instead the facts have to speak for themselves, and it’s to their credit alone that they manage to emerge from the mess Condon’s film has made of a compelling story. Thank goodness Benedict Cumberbatch is there to make an otherwise shockingly uninspired biopic even remotely interesting.

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Coming off the highly marketable Twilight movies, director Bill Condon decided to go a bit more mature but stick with a pasty pale figure that strikes fear into the heart of many: Julian Assange. It’s fitting Condon’s approach is radical in its own way. Assange himself has publicly taken issue with the film, and when you see the warts and all portrait, you’ll understand why. Thus far the movie has been as splitting as the man in question. Critics have been mixed, including our own Kate Erbland who reviewed the film at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it’s the reaction Condon expected. It’s probably not the response he wanted, but, as he says, it happens. Condon sat down with us to discuss those responses to the film, as well the battle between great characters and real life.

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Carrie 2013

The characters of this week’s releases are at the end of their ropes. That might even be literal for Robert Redford’s character in All Is Lost unless sailors have a different word for “rope.” And they probably do. Some of the film figures of the week are covered in blood, some have been kidnapped into slavery, some have been falsely imprisoned, some are fighting the system, and some are losing the battle against it. Desperation seems like a common theme. Of course, it’s October, so “ghosts” are another big one. And who’s more desperate than they are? There’s also a lot more going on in a week with a massive amount of movies. Here’s your trailer-ized guide to what’s coming out:

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It’s not exactly a secret that Julian Assange and the rest of WikiLeaks are displeased with the upcoming Assange biopic The Fifth Estate. They’ve leaked the screenplay, described the film as “irresponsible, counterproductive and harmful,” and even released a two word mini-review of the film via Twitter. Those two words: “it’s bad.” It turns out that the rabbit hole goes even deeper; in January, Benedict Cumberbatch (who plays Assange in the film) contacted the man behind WikiLeaks and asked to meet with him. Today, WikiLeaks has published the letter that Assange sent back. It actually starts off rather fondly: “My assistants communicated your request to me, and I have given it a lot of thought and examined your previous work, which I am fond of. I think I would enjoy meeting you.” But after a few compliments to Cumberbatch’s character and acting ability, the letter takes the turn down Righteous Fury Lane that we were all expecting it to take.

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It’s been two years since WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange warned us about widespread survillance on our tech devices, and the world is still fascinated with the silver-haired whistleblower. While the real Assange is still camped out in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Benedict Cumberbatch is stepping into his shoes and bleached hair for Bill Condon‘s The Fifth Estate, which focuses on Assange’s partnership with Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl) and the rise of the mighty WikiLeaks. Though we already got a glimpse of the film and Cumberbatch’s excellent Aussie accent from the trailer (which our own Scott Beggs wrote about here), the film’s team has some released new stills and posters – unfortunately they’re not giving us much to work with. There’s Assange on camera during an interview, a group of concerned Suits in a situation room probably learning about a new leak and a truly terrifying close-up of Peter Capaldi looking into your soul as if you’ve done something personal to offend him. Check them out after the break, and head on over to The Playlist for some futuristic-looking posters.

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The Fifth Estate

Why wasn’t the trailer for The Fifth Estate leaked? Seems like DreamWorks missed a great opportunity there, but they definitely didn’t miss the opportunity to capitalize on a world-altering event with a really bad haircut. With Bill Condon at the helm, Benedict Cumberbatch is playing Julian Assange in a story that focuses on his relationship with early supporter Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl) and the rise of Wikileaks as a thorn in the side of governments everywhere. The trailer feels a lot like The Social Network, and there’s a lot of prestige opportunity here, but at the very least it’ll make a great double feature with We Steal Secrets. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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published: 04.20.2014
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published: 04.20.2014
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published: 04.20.2014
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published: 04.20.2014
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