The documentary examines Julian Assange, his controversial website, and incarcerated soldier Bradley Manning who supplied the site with thousands of classified documents
Filmed with the startling immediacy of unfolding history, Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney’s “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks” details the creation of Julian Assange’s website which facilitated the largest security breach in U.S. history. Hailed by some as a free-speech hero and derided by others as a traitor and terrorist, the enigmatic Assange’s rise and fall are paralleled with the story of PFC Bradley Manning, the troubled young soldier who downloaded and made available to WikiLeaks an enormous cache of classified documents from U.S. military and diplomatic servers, revealing the behind-the-scenes workings of our government’s international diplomacy and military strategy. Since June of last year Assange has avoided extradition by holing up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has been grated diplomatic asylum. Manning was arrested in May 2010 and is in prison awaiting trial for 22 counts against the U.S. government, including aiding the enemy. Gibney’s documentary is a riveting, multi-layered tale about transparency in the information age and our ever-elusive search for the truth.
MSN Movies: I can’t believe how many of your documentaries I’ve seen in the past few months: “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God,” about the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, “Magic Trip” about Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters on their 1964 cross-country bus trip, and “Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer.” I assume going from one radically different topic to another keeps things very interesting!
Alex Gibney: Yes, and sometimes it’s my salvation because you can get your head so far into something and start to lose perspective. But all of my films have odd schedules. Some can go off the rails at times—you won’t hear anything about them for years and then suddenly they’re back, like the one I’m working on right now about Lance Armstrong.
I know there’s an eternal debate about the objectivity of documentarians. As I watched this film it sure didn't seem like you had any kind of preconceived agenda. I found myself wildly changing my opinions about both Julian Assange and Bradley Manning throughout the film. Was that your experience as you were making it?
Absolutely! I came into this film thinking it was a David and Goliath story about a very potent character who was holding powerful governments and corporations to account. It became very interesting to me to see how dangerous it is to imagine that any of your heroes are without fault!
Yes, it was fascinating to see how the lure of fame and worldwide acclaim seemed to affect Assange.
I think that when you become convinced that your mission is right, and this was certainly true in my film about the Catholic Church, you suddenly feel like you’re entitled to bend the rules, to behave in ways that you would decry in others.
Many of your films are topical, but the players in this one are so hotly debated and in the news that it must have seemed like you were walking into a minefield at times. Did that make it harder to get people to talk to you?
Yes, it did, and unfortunately I came upon Julian Assange at a time when he had already become famous and kind of written a narrative for himself that was set in stone. So it became more difficult now that he was this celebrity figure instead of someone who was willing to reflect honestly about his own conflicts and foibles.
Maybe one day he’ll be more open to that. Did you try to get Hillary Clinton to speak on camera or anyone from the State Department?
I didn’t. Well, we sent out some official requests but we didn’t anticipate that they would talk to us about these cases.
Right. And, frankly, we all know what her official line would have been.
In a way that’s part of the problem. Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a world where people in positions of power could actually speak honestly? Part of it is our fault, because when they do speak honestly, we jump up and down and scream, “Oh, you said that! Gotcha!” But another part of the problem is the role of press agents and publicists. Everybody wants to control their spin, and frankly, I think that’s what happened with Julian. Suddenly, he wasn’t so interested in conveying the truth as he was in staying on message, as a politician would do. He ultimately became the politician he would have otherwise detested.
Watching that footage of that video from Baghdad that you show of the civilians being killed by our forces is absolutely horrifying. When I saw that, I found myself thinking, “Damn right this kind of stuff should be released!” and I was totally in the WikiLeaks camp. And then in other instances, I get why our government would so vigorously object. Even though this information is already out there, I can’t imagine that the State Department is going to love this film.
No, they won’t. But it’s interesting—in many ways even the State Department has come around. There was a quote by Hillary Clinton in David Sanger’s recent book about drones where she basically said there was a very positive aspect to the whole WikiLeaks thing in the sense that it caused a lot of change that they never would have predicted. I think even the State Department concedes that there was no real lasting damage done.
For me, the most unsympathetic character in the film is computer hacker Adrian Lamo, Bradley Manning’s online “friend” who blew the whistle on him. Do you ever feel protective of your interview subjects? Do you worry how certain people like Lamo are going to come across in the film?
The Wolfpack is back for one last adventure in mayhem
It was strange being at Caesar’s Palace to talk to cast members of “The Hangover, Part III.” When the first “Hangover” movie premiered in June 2009, nobody had ever heard of the Wolfpack or witnessed the crazy antics of Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stuart (Ed Helms), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis). Much of the action of the first film took place at that luxury hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. The next film in the trilogy bypassed Las Vegas for Thailand where the gang, accompanied by the hapless Doug (Justin Bartha) and the lunatic Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), got into major trouble yet again. In the third and final film in writer/director Todd Phillip’s raunchy trilogy, “The Hangover, Part III,” the Wolfpack returns to Caesars’s Palace for an appropriately raucous conclusion. But these days, the real Caesar’s Palace is full of signs of the series' success: movie-themed slot machines, Wolfpack t-shirts and visors, whole souvenir shops dedicated to the films’ outrageous shenanigans. Not to mention the groan-producing tourists who daily ask at the front desk, “This isn’t the real Caesar’s Palace, is it?”
The first two films in the franchise have already earned more than a billion dollars worldwide. The new critic-proof film promises to add significantly to that jackpot. I spoke with several of the film's stars, including Heather Graham who played Jade, the sweet stripper who was briefly married to Stu in the first film and is back to bid her old buddies a fond farewell. In the new film, Phil, Stu, and Doug hold an intervention for struggling Alan, who finally agrees to go to rehab only if his friends drive him there. But, oops, the guys don’t quite make it to their intended destination. Leslie Chow has escaped from prison in Bangkok and some shady dealings he had with a notorious mobster (John Goodman) set events in motion that cause our friends to make a madcap detour to Sin City where they end up at their old Caesar's Palace haunting grounds.
Since it’s the final outing, I asked the cast what they’ll miss most about playing these characters. You can see their answers (after the break) including Heather Graham’s interesting speculation on how Jade may find financial success in the years to come.
Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, and Rooney Mara deliver
While a quick sketch of David Lowery's "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" might make it sound like the sort of film most mainstream audiences would go for in a big way - Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara star as Bonnie and Clyde outlaw types who eventually get caught, sending one to jail and one to live without the other - the Sundance hit is a highly meditative, deeply beautiful drama that will likely divide audiences who wander in to see it expecting something simple.
It was also one of the most impressive films to debut at the festival this year.
Affleck and Mara star as Bob Muldoon and Ruth Guthrie, a couple on the run after a really ill-fated crime spree that leaves one person dead and one person injured. While engaged in a shootout with local police, Ruth ends up putting a bullet in an officer (Ben Foster), a crime that Bob takes the blame for, landing him an extended prison sentence.
Guilty but free, Ruth waits for Bob's return as she also tries to raise their young daughter, born when her pop was already in the big house. Bob does eventually get free, but circumstances have changed - many of them thanks to Foster's cop, who is still around (and getting closer to Ruth by the year). Sound like a standard drama with a love triangle? It's not, and it's all the better for it.
The film's first trailer is a uniquely well-made one, as its slow pace, beautiful photography, and sudden bang-bang-shoot-em-up style quite effectively mirrors the look and feel of the final film. It's a rare bit of marketing, a really truthful one, because if you like this trailer, you'll love this film. That's not something you read every day. Check out the first trailer for "Ain't Them Bodies Saints," thanks to The Film Stage, after the break.
She joins Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, and Adam Driver
Move aside, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber
The concert film has been back on the rise in a big way lately, with full-scale concert features chronicling such young-skewing talents as Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, the cast of "Glee," and Katy Perry taking over movie theaters everywhere (and guaranteeing that audiences don't need to set foot into an arena to hear the ear-splitting screams of adolescent fans). But what about music fans who aren't into the dulcet tones of the pre-pubescent?
Not to worry, as Metallica has something completely different planned for their fans with their new concert film, "Metallica Through the Never." Not just a 3D IMAX concert film, not just a look inside Metallica's most ambitious tour yet, not just an ear-blasting and eyeball-bursting musical outing, "Metallica Through the Never" also blends a narrative section into its groundbreaking take on the "concert film."
Even better? The narrative portion of the film also stars one of Hollywood's genuine rising stars, Dane DeHaan ("Chronicle," "The Place Beyond the Pines," the upcoming "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"). DeHaan stars as Trip, a roadie for the band who is dispatched on an "urgent mission" to pick up a mysterious package in the middle of the band's show. Trip's night takes a turn when he's hit by an out of control driver, but things only get much worse (and much more weird) when he emerges from his totaled van to find himself in the middle of a full-on riot. Oh, and there's also a masked guy on horseback who seems to have it in for the police, the rioters, and Trip.
Basically, it's wild, and so is this first trailer for the film.
Check out the rockin' first trailer for "Metallica Through the Never" below!
'American Horror Story' star will play Quicksilver, Magneto's son
Project has been compared to Broadway show 'Wicked'
Family and fast cars, evolution and Euro-destruction ...
Looking back, hiring Justin Lin -- at the time an indie sensation who'd made an uneasy leap to big-studio films with "Annapolis" -- to take over the "Fast & Furious" films with the third installment must have seemed like a risk at the time; in retrospect - and after films 4 and 5 gave the franchise new life by returning to old friends -- it was a stroke of genius. The "Fast" films have become commercial and critical successes - and it's all Lin's work, in many ways. We spoke with the director in London about shooting in that great city, forging a family out of characters and why his Aston Martin has a unexpected after-market add on in the back seat ...
MSN Movies: I mean, how strange is it to be in charge of a franchise where people are actually looking forward to part six of anything? I mean, is that testament to the work you've done on this series?
Justin Lin: (Laughs) All I can say is when I first signed on my dream was to hopefully change the sensibility, embrace the characters, and hopefully help them evolve, you know? And through their evolution the obstacles are going to shift. And I remember pitching to the studio and Vin back in '05 about like what we've built -- a mythology -- and where we should go with it. And so to be sitting with you here eight years later, it means that a lot of the stuff I've been talking about since eight years ago has now come to life.
Do you know geographically where you're going from film to film? Do you think? Do you just throw a dart at a map and go, "Oh London, we'll blow up that city next"? I mean how do you pick the locations?
(Laughs) Well I get the perks of the job to travel around the world you know? And I act like it's really hard so I get to travel more.
But Rio just felt like it was the right location for all the characters to come together for the first time. And I think after "Fast Five" I knew it was probably going to be somewhere in Europe, and I flew around and I really hung out at different countries. And there are some beautiful cities, but as soon as I landed in London I felt like this is the right place. It's a huge city. It's diverse. But there was something about even the quality of the sun. Like, even on a sunny day like this it's not fully sunny, at least from someone from L.A. you know? And that tone just felt right for what we're about to do to culminate everything.
And I know you used Glasgow to double in some of the street racing scenes, but this one of the most crowded urban areas in the world. I mean you drive for 50 minutes here, you're in Belgium. How do you get around the logistics of shooting here? Is that a challenge?
It's a huge challenge. I mean I tend to pick cities that are impossible to shoot driving scenes in, but what I love about my job is that that should not be an obstacle. You know I think my job is to just come up with ideas, and I have the best crew in the world to help execute. So the example here is that I remember seeing Piccadilly Circus and saying that it'd be great if you had this iconic Dom car coming right through, and they're like, "You're probably not going to get it." But I think having once we settled and were able to talk to the right people about why that needs to happen. We became only the third film they allowed to shoot in Piccadilly Circus.