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March 1, 2015 8:33 pm  #181


Re: The Fifth Estate -Assange film

Saw this recent article today (its dated Feb. 20/15) which mentions The Fifth Estate a movie that could have had Oscar potential but never saw any award nominations.

http://www.thoroldedition.ca/2015/02/18/16-oscar-bait-movies-that-were-snubbed-by-the-academy

The relevant TFE part is reproduced below (it was also one of the selected films that included a Youtube trailer, which I have included) -

THE FIFTH ESTATE (2013): The Benedict Cumberbatch fans were out on the street in force at the Toronto Film Festival when they trotted out this biopic of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Cumberbatch wasn’t a bad Assange, but the movie was a mess. Daniel Bruhl (Rush) performed well here too, but was ignored twice in the same year. Worst thing about the movie bombing: Assange probably thinks it was his doing.




The more I see of TFE the more I think the film got a really raw deal.  Badly promoted by Dreamworks (just not their kind of movie I have to believe) and just not a topic that was (and probably is still not) appealing to American audiences.  It received mixed reviews from critics (although Cumberbatch's performance was much more heavily praised) and since it was virtually simotaniously released in NA and worldwide (only a week difference) it never got off the ground outside of the US market either (although it did better in overseas box office than the US domestic one). 

It was a finacial disaster for Dreamworks ($28 million dollar production cost  and only a $8.5 million combined BO). 

I saw it in the theatre and I was totally impressed with the feel of the movie.  I thought it was innovative and exciting.  I wasn't familiar with Sherlock or even Cumberbatch at that time (I went to the movie mainly because of Daniel Bruhl) but was blown away with the on screen chemistry between Bruhl and Cumberbatch.  And I was stunned with the acting of BC. 

I really was interested in (and sympathetic towards) JA so I was particularly focused on how BC portrayed Assange.  And I think he captured the complicated essance of the man.  He went beyond the mocking myths and  and infused so much dignity into the role that could have easily been overlooked by any other actor. 

I saw BC in a very recent interview where he stated that he was very proud of his performance in that role and that he thought that maybe in the future if people see the movie (he believes not enough people have actually seen it) they will re-evaluate it and judge it more fairly.  And he said without any hesitation at all he would do the role again in a heartbeat. 

To me it was a brave movie (not a perfect one to be sure) and it does deserve a more balanced look at it in the future.  One of the things I remember most about it is the feeling, after the last scene, I had that I just couldn't get out of my seat as the lights came up.  I was almost breathless and numb and my legs felt shakey.  That is how profound the effect of the film was on me.  I don't feel this way often - in fact the only other time in recent memory that overwhelming sensation has come over me was at the end of TIG.  That says a lot for both movies.

-Val






 


"The only shipping I know is shipping containers."
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March 1, 2015 8:36 pm  #182


Re: The Fifth Estate -Assange film

A very thoughtful analysis, Val--and thank you for bringing the link over.


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March 1, 2015 9:04 pm  #183


Re: The Fifth Estate -Assange film

I agree that this was an important subject for a film, and Benedict's performance was very well done, but the movie it'self left me cold.  I never felt emotionally engaged.


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March 1, 2015 10:33 pm  #184


Re: The Fifth Estate -Assange film

REReader wrote:

A very thoughtful analysis, Val--and thank you for bringing the link over.

My pleasure REReader.http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


I think coming from a journalism background the subject was one that I could relate to in a particularly close way.  So the content of the movie was easily digestable to me and I found BC's and DR's performances especially emotional and the subject matter and their performances drew me into the film completely.

Funny thing as a Canadian the phrase "The Fifth Estate" is one that has a special meaning.  We have a very famous , award winning TV newsmagazine that started up in 1975 (40 seasons and counting!!) and it goes by that very moniker.

It is on our national TV network (CBC) and has even won an Oscar (one of its episodes was put into theatrical production and won for Best Documentary Film in 1982 - Just Another Missing Kid).  

It, like JA's Wikileaks, is dedicated to uncovering the truth on a whole range of topics. 

I can't think of anything more dramatic than that.  And for me, the movie did an excellent job of recreating the search for the truth in a world where lies are created by the forces in power to protect their positions and interests (be they banks, governments, or multinational companies).   It still makes me tremble when I think about it.

-Val

 


"The only shipping I know is shipping containers."
                                           -Benedict Cumberbatch
 

March 2, 2015 7:59 am  #185


Re: The Fifth Estate -Assange film

I was quite surprised to see that the movie bombed as it had at the BO - I was very interested in the subject and found the movie very interesting, quite apart from the pleasure to have at least BC on the screen for a decent amount of time (after I had been left with a definite "not enough of BC presence" feeling in ST into Darkness). It is not a perfect film, to be sure, some subplots are predictable and cliched, I didn't like childhood memories mumbo-jumbo and, most importantly it didn't go as deep into Assange-Domscheit relationship as it could/should. Nevertheless, IMO the movie was treated unjustly and trashed beyond any reasonable motive. What's more, B. performance was mesmerizing, one of his best, I think and it's a real paradox that this year Eddie Redmayne would win all the major awards for his performance in a movie by no means better (IMO: distincly more bland and shallow) than TFE, while BC didn't get even a single nomination for his superb portrayal. But then, this year he gave a superb performance in a superb film and hasn't won a single award, as well... http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/confused.png

 

March 2, 2015 4:09 pm  #186


Re: The Fifth Estate -Assange film

I agree miriel68 with your assessment of the the film weaknesses (not enough dept into the Assange-Domscheit relationship, the early life messiness of the story, etc.) and with its strength - that jewel perfect performance of BC (and I would have to add DR as well for me) plus an drop-dead interesting topic.  The cinematography was also a strength for me as well. 

And I also rank Ben's role in this film as one of his very best.  Even when I see short snippets here and there from TFE I often find myself with my mouth instinctively open in awe at how he delivers the character up for us on screen (or tears in my eyes brought on by the intensity of emotion BC brings to even one small scene). 

Years ago I bought and read a 1990 book called "Produced and Abandoned: The National Society of Film Critics Write on the Best Films You've Never Seen" which was about a selection of movies that were almost too innovative, too quirky, or too personal to be accepted by a mass audience and thus had, for various reasons (mismanaged, mishandled or bad timing), been box office failures but deserved a long, thoughtful second look.  Many of them contained bravura performances from actors who were ignored when awards season came along.  

It still is one of my favourite books to look over and I have used it as a checklist of sorts to give a number of lesser known movies a viewing on my part.  In almost every case I haven't been disappointed. 

I truly feel The Fifth Estate would have no problem being listed in a revised edition of this book (if it ever would happen).  This film was given short shrift for sure IMO.

I will end with a passage from Produced and Abadoned which I think applies to The Fifth Estate too -

"Films with social and political themes have the greatest and most lasting power when they go beyond their immediate purpose and tap into complex combinations of attitudes and emotions...

At their best topical movies provoke you to develop your own analyses by dramatising contemporary history from vantage points that are more personal, if not always deeper, than the front-page headlines or nightly news... These films throw you into volatile situations and allow you to think and feel your own way through.  All the fims that follow share at least one bedrock virtue: They cut against conventinal wisdom, whether they're about Americans in over their heads in Central America... the media circus that surrounds our politics and our heroes... or the perils American soldiers faced in Vietnam - military, physical or piercingly moral.  They encourage the discovery of unconventional wisdom."


-Val


"The only shipping I know is shipping containers."
                                           -Benedict Cumberbatch
 

March 4, 2015 10:36 am  #187


Re: The Fifth Estate -Assange film

Seems like an interesting read, hopefully I will be able to get hold of it somewhere.  l love reading about film industry behind the courtains.

On the whole, it is sad that B. performance in TFE is kind of forgotten or glossed over in most articles about him, while some of his performances which were, IMO, a total waste of his talent - like major Stewart in "War Horse" or benevolent slave owner in "12YaS" - are always brought forward, because these movies won awards or were done by famous directors. Sure, career wise it was a very smart decision to partecipate in them, but both roles just didn't give Benedict any possibility to "do" something meaningful.

 

March 4, 2015 11:26 am  #188


Re: The Fifth Estate -Assange film

But I think that's only natural, as sad as it might be. People tend to remember the 'successful' movies which won awards and/or made a lot of money at the box office. You mentioned it yourself, miriel. I'm sure everyone in the business, including Benedict, knows that it works this way. It's not enough to give a brilliant performance in a mediocre or even weak film, the film itself has to be more than just average, or your performance will be forgotten, as well.


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March 4, 2015 11:50 am  #189


Re: The Fifth Estate -Assange film

Well, as I said, it was a very smart move, career-wise, to partecipate in a Spielberg's movie and in 12YaS. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png

 

March 4, 2015 5:49 pm  #190


Re: The Fifth Estate -Assange film

SolarSystem wrote:

But I think that's only natural, as sad as it might be. People tend to remember the 'successful' movies which won awards and/or made a lot of money at the box office. You mentioned it yourself, miriel. I'm sure everyone in the business, including Benedict, knows that it works this way. It's not enough to give a brilliant performance in a mediocre or even weak film, the film itself has to be more than just average, or your performance will be forgotten, as well.

All true! There's also the simple fact that more successful (in filmdom) almost always means a bigger audience, so there are more people who CAN remember the performance.

There have been and continue to be a great many successfual actors who use the "one for the box office, one for art" criteria when it comes to choosing their projects. It's not just about the money (although that certainly is a factor--you can only do Shakespeare-in-the-Park if you have a cushion), it's also about the exposure--you only get to pick and choose projects if you are known to pull in box office, and you are only as successful as your most recent projects were.


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March 4, 2015 9:04 pm  #191


Re: The Fifth Estate -Assange film

SolarSystem wrote:

But I think that's only natural, as sad as it might be. People tend to remember the 'successful' movies which won awards and/or made a lot of money at the box office. You mentioned it yourself, miriel. I'm sure everyone in the business, including Benedict, knows that it works this way. It's not enough to give a brilliant performance in a mediocre or even weak film, the film itself has to be more than just average, or your performance will be forgotten, as well.

While I absolutely agree that a successful BO means more exposure for a great performance and that more people remember something that made lots of money I don't think TFE falls into the category of being a weak vehicle that contains a brilliant performance by BC. 

As I said, it isn't a perfect film but I think of it as a movie that has a lot more going for it than just BC's performance (which is absolutely great to me). 

And it's a pity really that more people have not seen TFE - not just because of a bravura performance by BC, but also because I think the movie itself deserves a better "look-see" by a more open-minded audience (critics included).

One of the movies reviewed in the book I talked about was Casualties of War (1989).  It, like TFE, wasn't recieved too kindly by the majority of critics (although Pauline Kael loved it) and it also was a huge flop at the BO. 

It contained a wonderful performance by Michael J. Fox in a totally different kind of role than most of his fans would ever imagine him in - and that was very hard for his public to swallow I think.  The subject matter (the gang rape and killing of a Vietnamese woman during the war by US soldiers) was not something the American people wanted to hear at that time and they stayed away in droves. I even read a review (in Film Comment I think) that suggested in order to make the movie more saleable they should have made the Fox character have a "thing" for Asian women (he was the one soldier who refused to participate in the crimes)!  Now, after more than 20 years CoW is looked upon much more appreciatively and has found a new audience.  The movie is now being viewed as an overlooked gem in content, theme and performance.

This film reminds me so much of the reception that TFE got from the critics and the film-goers.  But it doesn't mean Casualties of War was a weak film.  It is definitely not.  It always was a powerful, heart wrenching piece (and still is) that rings as true today as it did back then.  And I feel that way about TFE. 

I don't think BC's strong performance was wasted in a weak TFE.  A true appreciation of the film just hasn't been discovered... yet. 

-Val


"The only shipping I know is shipping containers."
                                           -Benedict Cumberbatch
 

March 4, 2015 9:35 pm  #192


Re: The Fifth Estate -Assange film

I haven't seen TFE, and for me it's because I think it may have been made too early--too close in time to the whole Wikileaks mess. I saw the whole thing as a very complicated situation: While I appreciate the desire for openness and the need for such openness in a true democracy, I was (and am) pretty unhappy with the reckless disregard for the people whose lives were endangered by Wikileaks just dumping names out there--when reputable news organs have printed secret papers in the past, they took care to redact names of people in dangerous positions. And frankly, I'm just not ready to watch a discussion of that played out on screen--I felt when it came out (and I still feel now) that I'd prefer to wait until there's some distance in time from those events to see a movie dealing with it. I imagine that quite a lot of the potential audience for the film--people who care deeply about the questions raised--who would have gone to see it had it been released ten or fifteen years down the line. 

Happily, with the way the movie industry now works, that can still happen.


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March 5, 2015 1:15 am  #193


Re: The Fifth Estate -Assange film

Thanks for your comment REReader.http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


Some films  - The Big Lebowski, Wet Hot American Summer, Harold and Maude and especially Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory (which I think is one of the best films ever made) just to name a few, were neither recognised by critics when they appeared on the scene, got little or no award noms, nor appealed to large audiences at the time they are made. They were either BO flops or struggled hard in the theatres to make even money.

But later in their lifespan they were re-evaluated by many critics (some like Paths of Glory were suddenly "discovered" as masterpieces and are now ranked on the best film lists regularly) and also gained more popularity with viewers on home video and/or became cult classics. 

I think TFE has the potential be one of those films as well.  It may need a few years to find its audience (because as you say it was almost too soon for the film to have been made) but I hope it does.  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png



-Val 



 


"The only shipping I know is shipping containers."
                                           -Benedict Cumberbatch
 

February 1, 2016 2:29 pm  #194


Re: The Fifth Estate -Assange film

I just read the review by Alan Rusbridger (former editor of the Guardian and played by Peter Capaldi in the film) who I admire.
https://newrepublic.com/article/115240/fifth-estate-reviewed-guardian-editor-alan-rusbridger

"Capaldi is rather understated and sotto voce. He could come and edit the Guardian any time."

"...the performance of Benedict Cumberbatch, who is stunning as Assange. The voice and the slightly jerky, stiff, awkward demeanour are just right. More importantly, he captures the kaleidoscopic nature of Assange’s make-up, as most people experience it: brilliant, difficult, rhetorical, paranoid, inspiring, odd, cold, warm, solipsistic, manipulative, strategic, scheming, devious, visionary, dismissive, impulsive, deliberate . . ."


I've heard before that the Guardian people were very impressed about Bens performance and they know they met that man several times.
I still can't believe that this film or at least Bens performance wasn't recognised by award shows, but lets be honest everything in the film business is about publicity the quality isn't always No.1 . Or the content was too complicated for some people.
 


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February 1, 2016 2:44 pm  #195


Re: The Fifth Estate -Assange film

Yes, that is true. I think the film as such has its weaknesses, e.g. I did not like the Laura Linney subplot at all (not because of her, she is an excellent actress). It found it clichéd. But Benedict's performance would have deserved far more recognition. 

Btw, I was reminded of the film only yesterday when I watched a TV discussion with Anke Domscheit-Berg as a guest. 


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