NOOOOvember 2014: Digital Shortbread

fifth estate

Happy Monday, friends, and welcome to another week of disappointments–NOOOOvember disappointments, that is. We had a great start to this series with some excellent guests last week (just see here and here), and now it’s time for yet another lovely guest rant from my buddy Tom over at Digital Shortbread. What did he choose for his letdown? Let’s find out!

 ‘The Fifth Estate’

by Tom

First and foremost, a big thank-you goes out to Cara for reminding me why it’s so much fun to blog about movies on sites that are not your own! Her NOOOOvember blogathon is a wonderful creation as its the perfect platform to vent frustration. It’s all about talking about the titles that we were looking forward to seeing. . . .until we, well, saw the thing.

For me there could be several choices, I have been disappointed frequently in my time (don’t worry, not by you all 🙂 ). But I’ll limit my lamenting to a fairly recent release, and one towards which I still harbor considerably bitter feelings. Let’s talk about Bill Condon’s The Fifth Estate for a minute, shall we?

I suppose for someone with absolutely zero knowledge of who Julian Assange is, it is possible for this slow-burning “thriller” to provide a bit of a thrill. It could be thrilling to learn this much all at once, like getting your brain reinserted into the Matrix using a tiny little plug. Unfortunately don’t expect any significant changes in physical abilities. Come the end of this movie you will have gained some important dates, a laundry list of names and what their relationships to one another are, some headache-inducing statistics involving how powerful the internet can be, and a little insight into Assange’s personal life. (Emphasis on a ‘little.’)

The main thing I was disappointed with in this film was the way it approached a most unusual and hugely controversial public figure. Rather than focusing in on something catalytic or a major milestone in the man’s life, and then presenting the character as someone being torn apart morally by these extreme situations, the film is more a Powerpoint presentation glossing over a timeline of many events — some of which you may have heard and/or read about, some you may not have. The path taken by Bill Condon results in a destination entirely predictable, safe and even dull.

Pacing lags in The Fifth Estate like a sloth recovering from the hardest night of drinking he’s ever had. Nothing is happening in a hurry here. That tosses the fuel on the disappointing fire since we patiently await, and await, and await. . .for mere blips of activity to surface on the horizon. I’m actually having difficulty recalling any good examples here, but that surely must show how forgettable an outing this was.

In fact the only thing that remains a vivid memory of it is Cumberbatch’s disturbingly bleached-white hair. He looks very Assangian. Peculiar. Tense. Appearing to be in full control of his life, but still operating under a shady enough guise to be suspected by even his closest peers. And Cumberbatch’s performance here suits the man well. Needless to say, there’s almost nothing to complain about with his portrayal.

That’s why the film achieves such a hopelessly lame status. It speaks with such importance and authority but never actually implements compelling sequences to show just why Julian Assange posed (poses?) such a threat to the security of entire communities, maybe even the entire planet. Everything here is just assumed to be bad. We don’t see the how. Maybe it’s too tall of a task to be more graphic, to be more specific here for Bill Condon et al. Again, that goes back to the simple solution of focusing on a particularly difficult point in the character’s life rather than providing an encyclopedia’s worth of convoluted conversation and paradigm-shifting information-revealing.

All in all, I was severely underwhelmed by The Fifth Estate, and try my hardest to not look back on this phase in Cumberbatch’s career. He can (and will) do better.


A bad Cumberbatch film?! Noooooo!!! Sigh. I guess it happens to every actor. Anyway, thanks so much for this, Tom! More NOOOOvember coming your way soon, friends! P.S. I know a few of you have said you still want to get me something, and you’re welcome to, but I reeeeeally need those write-ups this week, if at all possible. Pretty please and thank you. 🙂


26 thoughts on “NOOOOvember 2014: Digital Shortbread

  1. Reblogged this on digitalshortbread and commented:
    Wahoo!!! Cara’s great November-related blogathon NOOOvember is in full swing and guess who has joined the ranks? Me! I have contributed a review (a different version) of my awful experience with last year’s utterly yawn-inducing The Fifth Estate. Follow the linkage to see what I had to say!

  2. Ack!!!! Thanks very much Cara, I didn’t realize this was going up today, but I am sure you mentioned it to me. Very fun to participate, and going back and reading this I apparently didn’t get into as much of a frenzy as I remembered getting into. Still, this movie lost serious respect from me Hhaha. It also had Daniel Brühl in it which was a far cry from what he did in Rush, which came out I think the week prior. Oh well. Like you said, this has to happen to every actor at some point. 🙂

    I look forward to what comes next in this series. . .

    • Aw Tom I’m sorry!! I thought I told you this was going up!! It’s very possible that I forgot to tell you…Hope this didn’t throw off your groove!! Excellent work here, amigo. Thank you again for partaking!! 🙂

    • Cumberbatch was most certainly impressive as the slimy little Assange we have all come to “know.” I just wish his acting could have been transported to the next level with an equally impressive script and directing. Thanks Mark!

  3. “…like a sloth recovering from the hardest night of drinking he’s ever had.” – LOL! That’s a goodie Tom, well done.

    Damn, what a pity! I might still check this out ONE DAY just for Benedict Cumberbatch…

    • 😀 Thanks Zoe.

      I definitely don’t poo-poo giving it a shot at all, and who knows — others might come away actually liking it! I just built up a lot of expectation for this and it just wasn’t met. 😦

      But yes, Cumberbatch is reliably good here.

  4. Haha, love this idea for a post! I found The Fifth Estate to be a disappointment as well, although I wasn’t highly anticipating it, so not as high expectations equals not as a big of a let down. I thought Cumberbatch, although with most of the supporting cast, was quite good in it. I agree that it was more of a laundry list timeline of events that really did nothing for the plot, much less make a point (or even ask questions, for that matter). It was a subpar film that was ultimately forgotten, probably where it should be. Good points, and awesome idea for a post here! 🙂

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