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The Fifth Estate

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, by virtue of the monumental impact his organization has had on our understanding of world affairs, is subject to dozens of competing narratives, delivered on every communications platform available to those who would have us know the man and his project as they see him. The Fifth Estate, directed by Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Dreamgirls, two Twilight movies), is the first major motion picture fictionalization of an Assange story, and it’s a thoroughly entertaining thriller that hangs on a brilliant impersonation of Assange by its star, Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness and the TV series Sherlock). As such, it is likely to become a dominant part, if not the dominant part, of the popular understanding of a watershed historical episode and the real people caught up in it for some time to come, in the same manner as Daniel Day-Lewis’s portrayal of Abraham Lincoln or Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman’s portrayals of Woodward and Bernstein in All the President’s Men.

The Summit

Truth isn’t really stranger than fiction, it’s just more unruly. The Summit is debuting filmmaker Nick Ryan’s commendable but ultimately confusing attempt to get a handle on a particularly unruly story: the 2008 K2 disaster, in which 11 people died in an attempt to climb the world’s most dangerous mountain.

The Patience Stone

The folkloric title of Afghan filmmaker Atiq Rahimi’s movie may seem to some people to refer to something they could use as they view it. Much of The Patience Stone is devoted to monologues by its unnamed lead character (Golshifteh Farahani). The greatest part of the speech the movie gives her is in the form of ruminative soliloquies, ostensibly directed to the immobile, verbally, and perhaps mentally incapacitated husband she’s tending to as the picture begins. He, we eventually learn, has been shot while fighting in a war whose history and combatants are never divulged.

Autoluminescent: Rowland S. Howard

The name of Nick Cave looms so large over the ongoing history of post-punk music that it’s inevitable that the Birthday Party is widely thought of simply as Cave’s first band, pre the Bad Seeds. But what Blixa Bargeld and Warren Ellis brought to later stages of Cave’s work fits a template that was set in the Birthday Party by Rowland S. Howard, a guitarist whose name should be much better known than it is.

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