Saturday, August 8, 2015

Movie Review: "Citizenfour" (2014)

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Director: Laura Poitras
Year: 2014
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

An interview with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden by Glenn Greenwald.

If you had any doubts about the government watching every single solitary thing you do online, or on your cell phone, or on your regular phone, or anywhere or anything dealing with electronic devices, watch this documentary and it will make you think twice.

Admittedly, we care less than we should about protecting our data online. Sure, we agree to terms of service agreements without reading them, and yes, we have downloaded slews of apps on our cell phones with permissions including agreeing to give said apps access to our microphone, phone contacts, shopping habits, social security numbers, 4 mules, the blood of a virgin...okay, those last few might be a stretch, but really, some of the things apps ask for permission to access on your device are insane. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media apps, we're looking at you. Pile all of this on to the mounting fears of the ever-expanding over-arching reach that the Patriot Act affords the government to spy on phone and email records, and secret, undisclosed buildings where this data is collected and housed and you have a veritable recipe for disaster.

The question of how Edward Snowden will be remembered will eventually be told in time by history. Will he be remembered as a hero? Someone who blew the whistle on the American government spying on its own citizens? Or will he be forever known as a traitor, a man who committed the ultimate treason, who hurt the government's war on terror by shining a light on its invasion of the people's personal liberties? As of right now when we are publishing this review, Edward Snowden is a wanted man by the United States who was forced to flee the country he knew and loved to avoid being arrested. In this documentary, reporter Glenn Greenwald travels to Hong Kong to hold a series of interviews with Snowden to allow him to tell his side of the story as well as explain what his reasons were for leaking classified information. What we learned through these interviews is both infinitely scary and amazingly compelling. The way Snowden speaks, it is clear he loves this country, but he, like many, define this country as its people, not its government. As Snowden says, "We all have a stake in this, this is our country and the balance of power between the citizenry and the government is becoming that of the ruling and the ruled as opposed to actually, you know, the elected and the electorate." Snowden ultimately ends giving up everything, and instead of choosing what was legal, he did what he believed was morally right so the people of this country he loves can know that the US government is violating our most basic American rights of freedom and privacy, the very thing they are supposed to be protecting, all done in the name of national security. As Ben Franklin said, "Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Privacy and free speech are our most essential liberties and they are greatly threatened now. We also found out that apparently, Snowden didn't want fame from this act. In fact, he was worried the mainstream media would focus too much on him as a person, rather than the information he was whistleblowing. Unfortunately, he was right about that in many ways as the media has constantly talked about Snowden himself and whether or not he's a traitor, rather than all the important information he brought to light. There is a lot more information yet to disclose, apparently, and only time will tell if it will be released to the public or not.

Knowing that simply mentioning Edward Snowden and the NSA in our review for this compelling, engaging and truthful film, which we discuss over email between each other, will most likely be flagged as suspicious and read without our knowledge. This is a scary proposition, and though we're not as ballsy or powerful as Snowden, we have the right to express our thoughts on the movie without fear of persecution. The fact that this thought was even able to cross our minds at all is some George Orwell 1984 big brother type of stuff.

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 97%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

***To buy this movie, click here!!***

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