In his riveting new documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, director Alex Gibney (the prolific Oscar winner behind Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, and Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Elliot Spitzer) tells two stories: the thriller-like ascendency of the organization and the troubling questions it asks about government transparency, and the crumbling of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, which plays like something out of Greek tragedy — the transformation of an admirable idealist to a paranoid propagandist, injecting his own legal woes into the lofty aims of his organization, and conflating them. Gibney was unable to procure an interview with Assange; “Julian wanted money,” Gibney explains in the film, though Assange was willing to exchange his interview for information on the other people Gibney was talking to. The filmmaker refused, and We Steal Secrets has been under fire from Wikileaks supporters since it was unveiled at Sundance last January. I asked Gibney about that backlash, the importance of the story, and related troubling matters of transparency in the Obama administration. … Read More
Hold on to your hats, dear readers: the 29th annual Sundance Film Festival kicks off today in Park City, Utah. Your humble film editor is on the ground, in snow boots and several layers of sensible sweaters, with a film-going schedule that could alternately be described as “ambitious” or “insane.” Here are the ten movies that top our “must-see”… Read More
Welcome to Flavorwire’s streaming movie guide, in which we help you sift through the scores of movies streaming on Netflix, Hulu, and other services to find the best of the recently available, freshly relevant, or soon to expire. This week, we’ve got new films from Chris Rock, Julie Delpy, Spike Lee, and the Duplass brothers, plus a treasure trove of documentaries and one of last year’s scariest flicks. Check them all out after the jump, and follow the title links to watch them right now. … Read More
When you have to keep an obsessive eye on film, music, books, visual art, television, the Internet, and all other manner of popular culture, something eventually has to give, and for us — well, for this author, anyway — it’s sports. An almost-complete disinterest in professional and collegiate sporting events can make one feel a bit of an outcast (and it certainly makes for a confusing Facebook feed; apparently some guy who’s really into Jesus won something important on Sunday?), but after faking it through high school and college, I can’t pretend to care anymore. Maybe it makes me a pencil-necked geek, but the idea of spending three hours watching a football going to and fro — particularly when there are still Hitchcock movies I haven’t seen — is simply unacceptable.
However, many of the same film fans who are patently disinterested in a Sunday afternoon of TV sports will gladly spend that same time planted in front of a sports-themed movie — basically the same thing, albeit with better camera angles and a scripted ending. (And the angles are the only difference in a wrestling movie, HA HA!) And that’s fine with this viewer; as I told a friend after its release, “I’d watch football every week if it looked like Any Given Sunday.” But cinephiles more sport-phobic than I (and they’re out there!) might prefer films that keep the game play squarely off-screen. In honor of today’s DVD release of Moneyball, one of the best of the bunch, we offer ten genuinely good movies about sports that are notable for their minimal sports action. Check them out after the jump, and add your own in the comments. … Read More
Last night, Current TV wrapped up “50 Documentaries to See Before You Die,” a month-long countdown series summarizing the best of non-fiction cinema. And our sympathies go out to the folks at Current, because as we well know, any time you put together a “best of” anything list, you’re going to get second-guessed from here to kingdom come. But let’s face it: there are some absolutely puzzling exclusions. No Grey Gardens? Gimme Shelter? Hearts of Darkness? Gates of Heaven? Woodstock? The oldest titles on the list are The Thin Blue Line and The Decline of Western Cilvilization Part II: The Metal Years — golden oldies from 1988. We liked Catfish fine, but is there anyone on this earth who thinks it’s a better doc than Salesman? Who thinks Shut Up & Sing tops Don’t Look Back? Who finds Food, Inc. more vital than Titicut Follies?
And don’t even get us started on the fact that Dear Zachary isn’t on there.
But let’s put those complaints aside, because a list like this ultimately does more good than harm — any time a cable network can shine a light on great documentary films, we’re all for it, and these are (almost) all genuinely great documentaries. Where we really disagree is in the ranking — they picked the right movies (post-’88, anyway), but they’ve got them in the wrong order. Super Size Me at #5? Seriously? (Yes, yes, of course it’s just a coincidence that the show is hosted by Super Size Me director Morgan Spurlock.) So we’ve taken the 50 titles Current compiled and reorganized then into own top 10, with the reasons why, after the jump. … Read More
Based on the New York Times bestseller by journalist Stephen J. Dubner and economics professor Steven D. Levitt, the movie adaptation of Freakonomics entertains while exploring facts.
Taking such topics as parenting, cheating, crime, and bribery as points of departure, producer Chad Troutwine assembled six independent filmmakers, including Morgan Spurlock, Alex Gibney, and Eugene Jarecki, to direct a collection of documentary shorts. By applying the science of economics to its subjects, the film reveals some surprising answers to how the world really works. … Read More