Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Brühl’

The Fifth Estate: Not Transparent Enough—Movie

November 5, 2013

“The tyrants of the world should beware…but what about the others?” Guardian journalist Nick Davies and WikiLeaks co-founder Daniel Berg ponder this question at the end of “The Fifth Estate.” This question really goes to the heart of the film. Directed by Bill Condon, based on books by  Daniel Domscheit-Berg and David Leigh and Luke Harding  and adapted by Josh Singer, “The Fifth Estate” is not so much a biography of Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, but is more about the growth of WikiLeaks and the power it had for good and evil.The_Fifth_Estate_poster

“The Fifth Estate” begins with the early days of WikiLeaks and the meeting of Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Daniel Berg (Daniel Brühl). During that get-together they discover that they have similar ideals and goals. The two form a partnership, which in  Berg’s eyes is a partnership of equals. Working with Berg opens Assange up to a network of like-minded cohorts, bent on bringing transparency to the inner workings of corporations and governments. Through Berg’s computer pals, WikiLeaks is able to download information much faster and provide more immediacy to their work. It’s that immediacy and sense of urgency at all cost which eventually causes Berg to rethink what WikiLeaks is doing. Has its original intent gotten out of control?

Both Cumberbatch and Brühl are very good as Assange and Berg respectively. Cumberbatch obviously has the showier role and he does a terrific job in displaying the sheer ego and dedication to what Assange believes is his calling. Brühl’s performance is more understated and nuanced as it needs to be.

According to the film, much of the planning and recruiting for WikiLeaks takes place in underground venues all over the world. If true, I find this part of the of the WikiLeaks story fascinating. Where once grand ideas and uber planning took place in smoke-filled, staid rooms and clubs, the new world order for plotting is now done against the backdrop of a backbeat. The setting does give a somewhat hipster feel to the idea of document leaking…deserved or not. Leaking has become cool.

Every now and then “The Fifth Estate” has the spirit of “The Social Network”—two young men expanding the role of new media. But as the film goes on to show the resulting collateral damage of leaks, “The Fifth Estate” shifts in tone. Sometimes it feels like “Argo;” sometimes it’s “All the President’s Men.” And therein lays the problem. Despite strong acting, “The Fifth Estate”  doesn’t succeed ultimately because it isn’t quite sure of what kind of film it wants to be.  What it should be is the Julian Assange story. For someone who is so dynamic and driven and manages to outwit major companies and countries, we are told very little of his back story.  We are teased with information, but never learn why becomes such a crusader. We actually find out more about Berg (maybe that’s because the movie uses his book), but frankly, he’s not the interesting character. I left the film wanting to know a lot more about Assange.  That’s the film I want to see.

2 nuggets out of 4



Rush: Worth a Speeding Ticket—Movie

September 30, 2013

Ron Howard’s “Rush” is just that…one gigantic, incredible rush to your system. You need not know anything about racing to appreciate the terrific storytelling, phenomenal racing scenes and great acting that is this film.rush-movie-poster-8

Directed by Howard with screenplay by Peter Morgan, “Rush” is the true story of the 1970s rivalry between Formula One drivers Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth). The two men have very different personalities and the film is told from both perspectives. What brings them together is the will to win races. And what races they are! Howard captures perfectly the feel of the race track, the sights, the sounds…you can almost smell the gas.

As “Rush” shows us, both men were born into similar upper-class backgrounds—Hunt in England and Lauda in Austria. Neither family was supportive of their racing careers. It’s likely that the lack of support was a huge motivating factor for both of them. “Rush” does a fantastic job in demonstrating Hunt’s and Lauda’s differing approaches to racing. Not only was Lauda a great driver, he truly understood the mechanics of the car and was a perfectionist about his driving and the performance of his car. Lauda is someone you’d want not only in the driver’s seat, but under the hood as well. His single-mindedness made for perhaps a lonely life, but for those who “got” him, it seems to have been worth the effort. One such person was his wife, Marlene, beautifully portrayed by Alexandra Maria Lara. Hunt,on the other hand, was no less competitive, but believed in living life to its fullest. He was exciting and fun to be around, yet beneath all that flamboyant joviality, was not that easy to really know. Olivia Wilde as his first wife, Suzy, is terrific in showing what kind of fortitude it took to be with him (interestingly enough, she left him for Richard Burton).

Much of the movie deals with Lauda’s horrific 1976 crash during the German Grand Prix. His body was badly burned and his lungs were damaged, but miraculously he was back on the circuit 48 days later. Never attractive to begin with, Lauda’s face was horribly scarred and never the same again, but he remained remarkably comfortable in his own skin, no matter what form it took.

Hemsworth and Brühl are utterly astonishing in their roles and as the movie’s conclusion shows, bear uncanny resemblances to their respective characters (in fact, as shockingly attractive as Hemsworth is, the real Hunt might be even better looking). Hemsworth is terrific as the joie de vivre Hunt. He captures his spirit beautifully, but also shows the insecurity that lies buried well beneath the surface. Hemsworth demonstrates that when given good material, he is much more than a pretty face and can rise to the occasion. Brühl’s portrayal of Lauda is nothing short of phenomenal.  In a completely vanity-free performance, Brühl manages to illustrate all facets of Lauda’s personality…most especially his grit and determination.

A shout-out must be given to Anthony Dod Mantle’s terrific cinematography, spot-on 70s-style clothing and makeup, a fabulous 70s score and great original music by Hans Zimmer. They make a great movie even better.

Ron Howard and Peter Morgan have combined to make one compelling, story-telling at its best, film. With “Rush” the fall season of fantastic movies begins in earnest.

4 nuggets out of 4

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