Review of reviews: Film & Music
Directed by Laura Poitras
A portrait of WikiLeaks’ founder
You may think you know all there is to know about Julian Assange, said Adam Clark Estes in Gizmodo.com. But you’ve never really seen Assange “up close and ugly” like this, and “that’s exactly why you must see Risk.” For five years, documentarian Laura Poitras enjoyed unprecedented access to the embattled WikiLeaks founder, taking a break only to make Citizenfour, her Oscarwinning documentary on Edward Snowden. The Assange we get to know seems “evil and deranged, to be honest,” a man more interested in power than in serving the public by exposing government overreach. Shot mostly inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where Assange has lived since 2012 to avoid extradition, Risk “doesn’t deliver the engrossing thrills of Citizenfour,” said Eric Kohn in IndieWire.com. But it radiates “the same degree of urgency,” and the closequarters footage of Assange’s team discussing how to release its first document cache creates “the tense, elegant atmosphere of a John le Carré spy novel.” Poitras appears to be sympathetic to Assange’s whistleblower mission, but Risk “doesn’t feel like a hagiography,” said Robbie Collin in The Daily Telegraph (U.K.). Rather than burnishing his public image, Risk “injects you into the bloodstream of the Assange story.”
Directed by James Ponsoldt
Silicon Valley swallows a newbie.
The new Tom Hanks–Emma Watson thriller about the internet’s intrusions on privacy “raises plenty of ideas that we should all be deeply concerned about,” said Stephanie Zacharek in Time. The movie, unfortunately, “has no idea what to do with them,” even though it’s adapted from a four-year-old Dave Eggers novel. Watson plays Mae Holland, a new hire at a Silicon Valley tech firm that has begun promoting the idea that the world would be a better place if we all started wearing cameras 24 hours a day. When Mae hears a personal pitch from Hanks’ Steve Jobs–like honcho, she agrees to play guinea pig, which is a big mistake: For viewers, “it’s hard to believe that this clearly bright young woman could also be such a gullible idiot.” The movie is part satire, part moralistic melodrama, and “a tonal mess,” said David Edelstein in NYMag.com. “It has great moments, though,” mostly involving Hanks or the late Bill Paxton, playing Mae’s ailing father. In the end, said Robert Abele in the Los Angeles Times, The Circle is “like a buggy app—something you want to work” but that’s “doomed to be remembered more as a missed opportunity.”