The Fifth Estate

The Fifth Estate
Bill Condon tries to do for the WikiLeaks website what David Fincher did for Facebook. But there’s too much story to tell here, and I found Benedict Cumberbatch woefully miscast as the enigmatic Julian Assange. The second half grows compelling, but the first half is kind of a mess.

The JFK assassination, shown to us through the eyes of unknown, blue-collar Dallas residents who were directly affected by his murder on Nov. 22, 1963. The titles refers to the hospital that housed both Kennedy and his would-be assassin over the course of a few days. As a fan of history, and a champion of filling in the “gaps,” I thoroughly enjoyed director Peter Landesman’s approach to very familiar material. This experiment is well worth your time.

The Railway Man
A powerful film about finding the strength to confront one’s demons, The Railway Man stars Colin Firth as Eric Lomax, a British POW during World War II who was forced by his Japanese captors to toil on the Thai-Burma Railway. At the urging of his new wife (Nicole Kidman), Lomax ventures back to the site of his prison and stares down his captor, seeking closure. Romanticized, but guided by subtle performances.

Dallas Buyers Club
Matthew McConaughey at his absolute best. The handsome Texan transforms himself to play Ron Woodroof, a rough-and-tumble electrician who’s blindsided by an HIV diagnosis in 1985. Jared Leto and Jennifer Garner are excellent in supporting roles, but this is McConaughey’s show, and he shines brighter than we’ve ever seen … which is saying a lot given his recent performances.

Labor Day
Jason Reitman’s latest adapts Joyce Maynard’s novel about a lonely mother (Kate Winslet) and her overcompensating son (Gattlin Griffith) who help a wounded inmate (Josh Brolin) over the course of a long weekend. It’s the kind of story you could nitpick to death. But if you buy into the emotions of longing and loss that Reitman’s trying to explore in this mature step up, you’ll forgive it’s obviousness and embrace the warmth of the first-rate performances.

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