The Sony hack continues to present a conundrum for those of us with an interest in the “business” half of the movie business equation — yes, it’s stolen property, and a violation of privacy, and we’re all going to hell, and so on. But these emails also provide a rare unguarded (and thus valuable) look at how the sausage is made; they’re a guide to exactly how Hollywood’s most powerful people view matters of race and the pay gap (and, in the latter case, said emails have provided artillery for demands of parity). And now, a bit of newly unearthed correspondence reveals just how dense the folks who make your comic book movies are about who wants to see them, and who they should be about. … Read More
It’s not that difficult for someone to hack into your computer — and I know you think you know how easy it is, but trust me, it’s so much easier than you think. As a matter of fact, the attendees at Tuesday’s Tribeca Film Festival panel on “Secrecy and Power” were treated to a demonstration of exactly how easy it is, thanks to cyber-security expert Ralph Echemendia, aka “The Ethical Hacker.” Earlier that week, he sent an email with a link to a video clip to one of the TFF interns. As we all watched on a screen overhead, he opened up a window that displayed the intern’s desktop, his documents, his network. He turned on the webcam and the microphone. The poor schmuck had no idea. Most of those who are hacked don’t. … Read More
Someone is always watching.
For the longest time, that idea underpinned grim visions of a totalitarian future in books and movies, from Nineteen Eighty-Four to The Hunger Games — cautionary tales about the fate awaiting a citizenry that allows itself to be deceived by the people in power.
Then the future arrived, and it turned out those bleak fantasies of an all-seeing surveillance state weren’t so farfetched: in the post-9/11 world, someone really is watching, be it Facebook mapping your life’s history for the sake of advertising dollars, or the National Security Agency keeping tabs on your phone calls and text messages in the name of freedom. … Read More
Laura Poitras’ phenomenal documentary about Edward Snowden, CitizenFour, has been in theaters for less than a month, but the effect on… Read More
Let’s face it: from the get-go Julian Assange had that movie-villain magic about him. The hair, the weird way of speaking, the hair. Even his high principles, the single-mindedness of purpose that he prides himself on, suggest creepiness rather than conviction. That’s partly Hollywood’s fault; we’ve come to associate certain behaviors with a type. Assange displays a kind of idealism we see more often in movie bad guys than heroes, these days. It was only a matter of time before someone decided to make a film of all the WikiLeaks hullabaloo. … Read More
Look, it’s not that I make a habit of reading the message boards at IMDb, a pool of intellectualism falling somewhere between an Ain’t It Cool News comment section and the bathroom wall scrawlings of a particularly noxious truck stop. But when I was on the site a couple of weeks back while writing my rave of Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips (out today in wide release), a posting labeled “The Real Story…” caught my eye, and I executed an eye roll that nearly gave me a migraine. Here they go again, I thought. You see, it’s prestige movie season, and since “true stories” are such proven awards bait, we’re going to have to hear a whole lotta nattering about the details and inaccuracies in all of them. It’s as much a yearly ritual as the Oscar derby itself, and nearly as ridiculous, because such nitpicking has next to nothing to do with the value of the films themselves. … Read More
In what may be the least surprising entertainment news story of the month, WikiLeaks has obtained and leaked the script for The Fifth Estate (I mean, c’mon, it’s kinda what they do). The film, which is out in wide release on October 18, is a dramatization of the organization’s origins and conflicts — and, true to form, they’re unhappy with it. “[T]he film is, from WikiLeaks’ perspective, irresponsible, counterproductive and harmful,” notes the extensive “Talking Points” memo the organization has released alongside the annotated screenplay; the organization objects to everything from composite characters to its one-sidedness to (gasp) its contention that Julian Assange dyes his hair. Their missive makes for entertaining reading; it also raises some serious questions about what exactly this transformational organization’s priorities are these days. … Read More
Those of us who get hives at the very idea of being out in crowds and start sweating merely from exerting the force of locking our doors behind us may have a hard time getting too worked up at the prospect of heading out to the multiplex over this holiday weekend — the theaters are bustling, the temperatures are high, and the biggest new attraction is two and a half hours of The Lone Ranger. But fear not, fellow agoraphobes: thanks to the wonders of modern technology, some of the year’s best movies are available at the click of a button. Yes, due to collapsing theatrical-to-home-video windows and the increasing presence of simultaneous theatrical and VOD releases, several of Flavorwire’s best of 2013 thus far are available at this very moment, and for a fraction of that parking/ticket/popcorn price. … Read More
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. (UPDATE: The organization has disputed this claim. Mr. Gibney notes that they’re working from an “incomplete and inaccurate transcript based on non-final version.”) 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