Reel Critics: Taking the 'Fifth' takes time

The saga of WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, has been headline news across the world. Find proof in the recent conviction of Army Private Bradley Manning for divulging thousands of classified documents to the website. The drama continues to play out in real life.

Director Bill Condon (screenwriter for "Chicago" and "Kinsey") recounts this complex story in "The Fifth Estate" with a European flare. British actor Benedict Cumberbatch plays Assange with eerie style. Daniel Bruhl (Niki Lauda in "Rush") plays Daniel Berg, Assange's right-hand man during the formative years of the website.

The conflicts between the pair about the impact of their work demonstrate the core issues that need to be resolved. Should all government secrets be revealed regardless of the cost to specific individuals? Does the public's right to know justify placing innocent people in harm's way?

The question is intriguing, but the back story is sometimes tedious in the telling at more than two hours. This film will have limited appeal but touches a raw nerve in the data-driven Internet world of modern life.

—John Depko


Aaaah! It's a pointless remake

Sitting in a packed theater for Brian De Palma's 1976 movie "Carrie," we knew Stephen King's novel was scary, but were totally unprepared for what we were about to see.

Paving the way for so many horror films to come, the ending had a shocker that sent my Junior Mints flying, causing the poor girl in front of me to scream louder as they rained upon her head.

"Carrie" is a perfect little horror film about a nerdy high school girl who possesses unusual powers. She's bullied for being different and for having a devout, literally Bible-thumping mother who believes all girls are sinful.

After Carrie is traumatized in the girls' locker room, one of the girls responsible tries to make it up to Carrie by having her cute boyfriend invite her to prom. For one brief shining moment, Carrie blossoms and we smile, only to gasp when she's humiliated and unleashes all her repressed fury.

I don't know why anyone felt it necessary to remake such a classic. The new version, directed by Kimberly Peirce ("Boys Don't Cry"), is almost a carbon copy, so what was the point? Chloë Grace Moretz gives a decent portrayal in the title role, although prettier and more rebellious than Sissy Spacek played it.

Julianne Moore, as Carrie's mother, is excellent but doesn't have that demented edge Piper Laurie gave us so memorably.

Extra blood and a disgracefully toned-down ending did not elicit even the rattling of my candy. See the original (starring a young John Travolta) and avoid this useless remake.

—Susanne Perez

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator. SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.

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