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‘Fifth Estate’ dissects the clarity of intent

‘Fifth Estate’ dissects the clarity of intent

“The Fifth Estate” (2013). Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Brühl, Laura Linney, Stanley Tucci, Anthony Mackie, David Thewlis, Peter Capaldi, Moritz Bleibtreu, Alicia Vikander, Carice van Houten, Alexander Siddig, Jamie Blackley, Jeany Spark. Director: Bill Condon. Screenplay: Josh Singer. Books: Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website, and David Leigh and Luke Harding, WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy. Web site. Trailer. How clear are we about the motivations driving our actions? Are we sure about the nature of the beliefs we draw upon in creating our reality, or is there some doubt in our minds about the truthfulness of our alleged intents? Getting a handle on the level of clarity we employ when engaging in these practices may perplex and challenge us, even when our motives supposedly appear patently obvious and purely altruistic. But what if they’re not? Such is the conscious creation quandary dissected in the new docudrama, “The Fifth Estate.” The film, said to be based on actual events, chronicles the rise of the web site WikiLeaks and its enigmatic founder, Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch). The site was created to expose questionable, unethical and even illegal activity by corporate ...
‘Rush’ reveals what drives us

‘Rush’ reveals what drives us

“Rush” (2013). Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Pierfrancesco Favino, Christian McKay, Colin Stinton, Augusto Dallara. Director: Ron Howard. Screenplay: Peter Morgan. Web site. Trailer.The drive for success is a curious phenomenon. What impels it? And why would anyone pursue it with seemingly unrestrained fervor, especially when the prospect of danger lurks at every turn? Those are just some of the questions addressed in the new, fact-based auto racing drama, “Rush.”The world of Formula One grand prix racing was abuzz in 1976 with the rivalry between two talented but very different drivers, England’s James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austria’s Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). The devil-may-care Brit drove with reckless abandon, his foot lodged to the pedal to push for whatever speed he could muster out of his McLaren machine. Lauda, by contrast, was the consummate tactician, who believed that preparation was everything when it came to readying his Ferrari for the track, a carefully calculated strategy that helped him earn the Formula One world championship title the year before. But, despite Lauda’s success in 1975, he faced very different circumstances the following year, as this film shows.The rivalry between Hunt and Lauda actually began in 1970, ...
‘Enough Said’ implores us to follow our hearts

‘Enough Said’ implores us to follow our hearts

“Enough Said” (2013). Cast: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, Toni Collette, Ben Falcone, Tracey Fairaway, Tavi Gevinson, Amy Landecker, Eve Hewson, Toby Huss, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, Kathleen Rose Perkins. Director: Nicole Holofcener. Screenplay: Nicole Holofcener. Web site. Trailer. Even under the best of circumstances, getting a romance to turn out as hoped for can be a tricky proposition. But, when a clear, heartfelt path to happiness is revealed to us, we’d be foolish to ignore it, no matter how unconventional it might seem, what our past tells us or what others may think. Such is the challenge put to the lovelorn protagonists of the delightful new romantic comedy, “Enough Said.” Life’s transitional periods can be challenging – and full of surprises. Just ask Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). The divorced, forty-something masseuse diligently strives to build her client base, and she sincerely loves her craft (even if she isn’t crazy about some of her regulars or their annoying quirks). To seek solace from her career challenges, she immerses herself in her role as the doting mother of a teenage daughter, Ellen (Tracey Fairaway). But, as a hard-working divorcee whose only child is about to leave for college, Eva doesn’t have a lot ...
‘Wadjda’ inspires us to claim our power

‘Wadjda’ inspires us to claim our power

“Wadjda” (2012 production, 2013 release). Cast: Waad Mohammed, Reem Abdullah, Sultan Al Assaf, Ahd, Abdullrahman Al Gohani, Nouf Saad, Sara Aljabar, Dana Abdullilah, Rehab Ahmed, Rafa Al Sanea, Alanoud Sajini, Mohammed Zahir, Mohammed Alkhozain. Director: Haifaa Al Mansour. Screenplay: Haifaa Al Mansour. Web site. Trailer. It’s easy to allow ourselves to feel disempowered, especially under conditions where we feel as though our will has been sucked out from underneath us. That can be particularly daunting to those who operate under circumstances that are oppressive and seemingly unrelenting. Claiming our rightful power in those instances can be challenging, but it is possible, as long as we believe in the idea, a notion explored in the heartwarming new release, “Wadjda.” Buying a new bike shouldn’t be a big deal, but, if you’re a young girl in Saudi Arabia, it’s a lot easier said than done. The prevailing wisdom maintains that youthful members of the so-called fairer sex shouldn’t engage in an activity as risky as riding a bicycle for fears that “it might compromise their virtue.” In fact, it’s just one of many everyday activities considered taboo that Westerners take for granted. Going against such cultural prohibitions is something most Saudi women ...
Discernment championed in ‘Austenland’

Discernment championed in ‘Austenland’

“Austenland” (2013). Cast: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Jennifer Coolidge, Bret McKenzie, Georgia King, James Callis, Jane Seymour, Ricky Whittle, Rupert Vansittart. Director: Jerusha Hess. Screenplay: Jerusha Hess and Shannon Hale. Book: Shannon Hale, Austenland. Web site. Trailer. What’s real and what isn’t? From a conscious creation perspective, anything we perceive is technically “real,” so a better question would probably be, what’s genuine and what isn’t? Making that distinction is where the power of discernment comes into play, a theme that permeates the story line of the charming new romantic comedy, “Austenland.” No matter what she does, Jane Hayes (Keri Russell) just can’t seem to find love. It’s not for a lack of trying, but nothing ever seems to work out. Some would say – including some potential suitors – that it’s because she has unrealistic expectations about relationships, thanks to her consuming preoccupation with the classic romances of English novelist Jane Austen (1775-1817). Like a prototypical Austen-esque heroine, Jane is looking to be swept her off her feet by an amorous aristocratic hero a la Mr. Darcy from the author’s classic opus, Pride and Prejudice. But, in this day and age, what man realistically can live up to such a ...
‘The Butler’ charts the birth of a movement

‘The Butler’ charts the birth of a movement

“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” (2013). Cast: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding, Jr., David Oyelowo, Robin Williams, John Cusack, Liev Schreiber, Alan Rickman, Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Terrence Howard, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey, James Marsden, Minka Kelly, Clarence Williams III, Nelsan Ellis, Colman Domingo, Jim Gleason, Elijah Kelley, Alex Pettyfer, Adriane Lenox, David Banner, Yaya Alafia, Michael Rainey, Jr., Aml Ameen, Isaac White, Chloe Barach. Director: Lee Daniels. Screenplay: Danny Strong. Source Material: Wil Haygood, A Butler Well Served by This Election, The Washington Post, November 7, 2008. Web site. Trailer. When a popular new idea takes root, it can quickly grow wild, encompassing all in its path and overcoming whatever obstacles that get in its way. That’s true for the notions underlying everything from new consumer products to Internet web sites to social movements. One of those crusades that got off to a rough start but blossomed once its viability gained broad support was the American civil rights movement, a cause profiled in the new historical drama, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” Loosely based on a Washington Post article about long-time White House butler Eugene Allen, the film presents a fictional tale modeled on the subject’s life story, told through ...
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