Film Review: The Fifth Estate dir. Bill Condon


The Fifth Estate is a film of contrasts; the contrast between the controversial topic and the A-list cast; the contrast between Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Daniel Berg (Daniel Brühl), between Wikileaks’ intention and the eventual reaction and consequences, but most importantly between traditional print media and online sources of information – the Fourth, and eponymous, Fifth Estate.

Almost manic in its delivery of information The Fifth Estate captures the hectic and sometimes chaotic atmosphere that appears to have surrounded Julian Assange and Wikileaks. The constant movement from country to country only emphasises the global impact of the organisation and of the story the film is trying to tell.

Based on a book published by The Guardian in 2011, The Fifth Estate attempts to bring the “unvarnished truth” to light, a task in which Assange believes they have failed. His categoric dismissal of the film is addressed in a particularly self-aware section at the very end of the film where Cumberbatch is shown, in close up as Assange, rejecting the validity of any “Wikileaks film”.

Cumberbatch’s brilliant character study is the key to the films success, while Brühl’s depiction of Daniel Berg is by far the more emotionally engaging performance; Cumberbatch’s Assange has the kind of manic intelligence, with a hint of instability that makes him captivating to watch. The subtle decline of his character from cool collected freedom fighter to reckless egotist is seamless and beautifully controlled.

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In Cinemas Now.


TV Review: Hello Ladies, The Dinner


Oh the cringe worthy comedy of this weeks Hello Ladies is pure gold. The sitcom staple, the dinner party, is used to it full horrifying potential as Stuart and Jessica attempt to impress at a society dinner party in the LA hills. Populated with “taste makers and ground breakers” this looks like the worst, most awkward dinner party anyone has been too … ever!
Each going with their own agenda, Stuart to try and hook up with a model (again) and Jessica to not be outdone by her ‘friend’ (again), the sheer social awkwardness of the couple is manipulated brilliantly on a rollercoaster ride of near misses and totally disasters.

With Stuart swinging from childhood bullying stories to outrageous gay jokes, the audience is kept in suspense just wondering when, not if, this whole thing will come crashing around their ears. Jessica’s hidden talent emerges in this episode – a penchant for tap dancing. Competing to impress the editor of the rising talent section of Vanity Fair, Jessica’s friend gives a rousing rendition of “Somewhere” from West Side Story, to counter Jessica reveals a talent for tap, giving a surprisingly long and athletic performance, which leaves the assembled guests somewhat bemused.

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TV Review: Atlantis, A Twist Of Fate


Episode four of the BBC’s Atlantis continues with the young series’s adventure, comedy and little bits of mystery. Not a bad but undeniably simple, Atlantisis not going to be winning awards for scripts any time soon. However, the harmless family fun continues.

This week our trio finds an abandoned baby in the woods. After some jostling as to who would look after it, Hercules comes to save the day. With a few of the obligatory jokes that always occur when men are looking after babies–who farted? Oh wait it’s the baby, etc., etc.–we settle into a hunt for the baby’s mother.

A bit of contemporary archaeological reconstruction leads them to a broken pot, which when constructed was a little pig rattle for the baby – this means the mother was obviously coerced into leaving the baby, right? A slight leap, but let’s face it, with 45 minutes to play with we can allow the writers some professional license.

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TV Review: Atlantis, The Boy Must Die


Three episodes in and Atlantis finally has my attention. The difficulties I had with the first two episodes, namely the terrible acting and linear storyline, have all but remedied themselves. While Jack Donnelly is never going to win a BAFTA, the vacant look of surprise he appears to constantly wear has become less intrusive and more in keeping with the plot. The increased attention given to other characters is the key to Atlantis’ continuing upward trend.

This week was a week for romance. Not only did we properly meet Ariadne (Aiysha Hart) for the first time, but a sweet burgeoning love story is emerging between Hercules and Medusa (Jemima Rooper). A character we have only previously met in passing, Ariadne, the princess of Atlantis, becomes the catalyst for action. Her affection for Jason have finally come to the attention of others, increasing the punishment for Jason and co’s insubordination towards the Queens nephew, Heptarian (Oliver Walker). Unfortunately for Jason and the gang, not only is Heptarian betrothed to Ariadne, but he is also the “Lord of Poseidon”, a position that allows him special privileges and treatments within the city. Consequently, the slight altercation between him and Jason ends in the boys being sent “to the bulls”.

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TV Review: Atlantis, A Girl By Any Other Name


Episode two of the BBC’s new family entertainment show, Atlantis, is such an improvement on the pilot that I am almost willing to forgive the terrible acting of the first episode. The key to this episode’s success is simply less Jason more Hercules; Mark Addy’s easy charm, and brilliant comic timing raises this episode from mediocre children’s show to genuinely enjoyable adventure show.

“A Girl By Any Other Name” sees Jason and the gang’s infamy as the slayers of the Minotaur spread; approached by the father of a girl who has disappeared from the palace kitchens they decide to take on the investigation. After some inquiries they find that the Maenads, the followers of Dionysus, may have abducted her. With a temple set deep in a creepy forest, guarded by man-eating Satyrs, the boys should have no trouble getting in and rescuing the girl, right? Well not so much.

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TV Review: Hello Ladies – The Limo


Following on from a solid pilot Hello Ladies fully hits its stride in episode two. The interplay and parallels between the disastrous nights of Stuart and his tenant Jessica creates a darkly comic storyline.

Stuart’s overwhelming self-interest creates a brilliant opening scene in which he manages to ruin both Jessica’s shoot and Wade’s romantic gesture to his wife in less than five minutes. This selfishness is coming more to the fore as a main facet of Stuart’s personality. I anticipate (and look forward to) many a laugh at his expense.

As Wade’s marriage falls further and further into disrepair, the boys are once again left to console their friend with a night on the town in LA. As the title of the show suggests, Stuart’s focus on ‘The Ladies’ causes him no end of trouble.

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TV Review: Atlantis – The Earth Bull


Atlantis fills the BBC’s Saturday evening slot, their most profitable time slot made famous by Dr Who. The first episode of Atlantis sees Jason enter a strange parallel world while looking for the wreckage of his father’s submarine. In this ‘other world’ the city of Atlantis is alive and very much above sea level, populated by figures from Greek mythology and living in fear of the Minotaur of King Minos.

The fact that they have gone down the route of setting it in a parallel universe allows the writers to avoid worrying about any historical inaccuracies (of which there are many).

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Episode 2 to follow soon!