Julian Assange writes Benedict Cumberbatch, ironically helps publicize 'The Fifth Estate'
It’s safe to say that reviews for Bill Condon’s WikiLeaks thriller “The Fifth Estate” were not quite what DreamWorks was hoping for when it opened the Toronto Film Festival last month. It was no embarrassment, and a number of critics had kind words for Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as Julian Assange, but the middling response meant any opening-night buzz was swiftly subsumed by the prestige films that followed. (In contrast, “Gravity” opened Venice and was still a talking point by the festival’s close.)
With the film out in the UK tomorrow, and in the US next week, it needed a publicity lifeline to get back onto the radar – and one was kindly provided yesterday by none other than Julian Assange himself.
Well, not that kindly – since the flaxen-haired enigma evidently isn’t too keen on the film. Or, at least, the idea of it. In a personal letter to Cumberbatch sent back in January, the WikiLeaks founder expresses his admiration for the actor -- somewhat unnervingly stating that "our paths will forever be entwined" -- before venting that he "does not believe that this film is a good film," and that it is adapted from "a deceitful book by someone who has a vendetta against me and my organisation." In conclusion, he turns down Cumberbatch's prior request for a meeting.
That all seems fair enough, even if the wording of the rather long letter is more than a little unsettling. It's an occupational hazard of making biopics about living, active figures that they often won't be delighted by the prospect.
It's amusing, however, that WikiLeaks elected to publish this latter now, just as the film is about to be released -- when even publicity that's this unsupportive of the film can only stoke public interest in it. Is Assange oblivious to the irony? Or does he surreptitiously want to draw people's attention to a film that, for better or worse, is devoted entirely to him? The man knows how to keep us guessing.
I could quote further eccentric highlights of the letter, but you're better off reading the whole thing on the next page. (Yes, I'm sharing the whole letter: it's the WikiLeaks way, after all.)
1974 | Drama | RSummary: Jack Nicholson is private eye Jake Gittes, living off the murky moral climate of sunbaked, pre-World War II Southern California. Hired by a beautiful socialite (Faye Dunaway) to investigate her husband's extra-marital affair, Gittes is swept into a maelstrom of double dealings and deadly deceits,...Director: Roman Polanski
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Perry Lopez
1973 | Animation | GSummary: With King Richard off to the Crusades, Prince John and his slithering minion, Sir Hiss, set about taxing Nottingham's citizens with support from the corrupt sheriff - and staunch opposition by the wily Robin Hood and his band of merry men.Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
Cast: Brian Bedford, Phil Harris, Peter Ustinov, Pat Buttram
1954 | Comedy | NRSummary: Two talented song-and-dance men team up after the war to become one of the hottest acts in show business.Director: Michael Curtiz
Cast: Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
2007 | Drama | TV-14Summary: One of the best shows ever to air on television explores the origins of modern advertising, sexual relationships and social structures, with star-making turns from Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, and Christina Hendricks.Director: Matthew Weiner (creator)
Cast: Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, John Slattery
1994 | Drama | NRSummary: Terrific under-the-radar story of a pre-teen chess player who supports himself and his family by working for local drug dealers, until a murder changes his approach to surviving in his neighborhood. Samuel L. Jackson and Giancarlo Esposito give solid support to the young star Sean Nelson.Director: Boaz Yakin
Cast: Sean Nelson, Giancarlo Esposito, Samuel L. Jackson
1941 | Drama | NRSummary: British hunter Thorndike vacationing in Bavaria has Hitler in his gun sight. He is captured, beaten, left for dead, and escapes back to London where he is hounded by German agents and aided by a young woman.Director: Fritz Lang
Cast: Walter Pidgeon, Joan Bennett, George Sanders, John Carradine
1979 | War | RSummary: The Vietnam War comes to horrible life in this shocking and unforgettable story of madness and determination. Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall and Marlon Brando provide the major fireworks; Laurence Fishburne and Dennis Hopper add some wild ntoes.Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper
2014 | Documentary | RSummary: Roger Ebert's life and terminal illness are profiled in this in-depth documentary that goes well beyond the bounds of Ebert's career as a film critic.Director: Steve James
Cast: Roger Ebert, Chaz Ebert, Gene Siskel
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