6 items from 2015
In the HBO documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, a former member of the Church of Scientology says she simply wants "the truth to be known." Author Lawrence Wright, on whose book the documentary is based, says something similar: he never set out to write an exposé, but only wanted to understand what Scientology was all about. What he uncovered was truly bizarre, and damming. Writer and director Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) follows a mostly linear path through Scientology's origins to its current status, explaining its core principles alongside details of its systemic abuses. Gibney interviews eight former members, many of whom were high-ranking officials within the organization for decades, like top lieutenants Mark Rathbun and Mike Rinder. Wright himself also comments extensively on the history of Scientology, particularly regarding its larger-than-life founder, L. Ron Hubbard. [caption id="attachment_432059" align="alignright" width="233"] Image via HBO[/caption] Most viewers »
- Allison Keene
The CNN Films and Jigsaw production was well-received at SXSW, just as Gibney's Sundance entry "Going Clear: Scientology, The Prison of Belief" hits theaters in advance of HBO (March 29). Magnolia has acquired the theatrical, VOD and home entertainment rights to "Steve Jobs," while CNN Films has the television broadcast distribution rights. This is the seventh film directed by Gibney to be distributed by Magnolia. Described as "a renegade, but legit," "a study in contrasts," "a monk among priests," "maniacal" and "a rebel," Jobs is sketched in contradictory terms in in "Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine" by Oscar-winner Gibney ("Taxi to the Dark Side," "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," "We Steal Secrets," "The Armstrong Lie," "Finding Fela"). "This bracing film at first seduces you with the charms of the »
- Anne Thompson
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
Written & Directed by Alex Gibney
Alex Gibney might be the most important documentarian working today. In Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, he immerses us in the bizarre world of Scientology. Exhaustively detailed, Gibney intertwines testimonials and archival footage to pull back the curtain on this shadowy religious organization. Darkly hilarious and endlessly fascinating, Going Clear is investigative filmmaking at its best.
Forget everything you think you know about Scientology; Alex Gibney wants to show you things are far worse than you ever imagined. He painstakingly chronicles the long history of abuse, coercion, and litigation used to control its members and rebuff its enemies. Despite all of the cloak and dagger surveillance, however, the pervading message that emerges from Going Clear is that Scientology is little more than a glorified tax shelter. Nothing glamorous, just a bunch of tax »
- J.R. Kinnard
Though the lid was blown off the Church of Scientology long ago, Alex Gibney’s powder-keg documentary, “Going Clear,” should certainly rattle the walls, if not shake them to their very foundations. Gibney had an excellent blueprint to work from in Lawrence Wright’s exhaustively researched 2013 nonfiction bestseller (from which the film takes its title), but he’s also added much fascinating material here, including new interviews and proprietary Scientology video footage that has to be seen to be disbelieved. A hot ticket at Sundance, “Going Clear” should have no trouble maintaining its must-see buzz through its HBO premiere in March and beyond.
The prolific Gibney (“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God”) excels at untangling complex systems and institutions, and at showing us the human faces behind scandal-making headlines. Unsurprisingly, “Going Clear” is weighted toward candid, impassioned interviews with ex-Scientologists »
- Scott Foundas
From "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" to the Catholic church exposé "Mea Maxima Culpa," Alex Gibney's documentaries often adopt a straightforward approach to exposing institutional dysfunction. "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief" falls into that tradition. The director's bracing adaptation of Lawrence Wright's 2013 book on the religion's bizarre history is fairly routine in terms of its allegations. But with such outlandish material, that's more than enough. Read More: Alex Gibney Premieres His Scathing Exposé on the Church of Scientology By now, there's nothing entirely fresh about the story of L. Ron Hubbard's construction of a cult based around far-fetched science fiction conceits and the devious antics that ensued from it — many of which were perpetrated by Hubbard's tyrannical successor, the elusive David Miscavige. Nevertheless, taking cues from gripping testimonies provided by several high profile former »
- Eric Kohn
With January being the traditional low point of the movie season, cinephiles from around the world look to the Sundance Film Festival for some glimmer of hope. America’s preeminent independent film festival has graduated some heavy-hitters over the years, including Whiplash, Ida, and Boyhood from last year’s class. 2015’s program boasts an unprecedented balance between drama and comedy premieres, ensuring that everyone from general audiences to discerning film students will leave happy. Like any good buffet table, however, Sundance simply has too much good stuff to consume, unless you don’t mind unbuckling your belt in a crowded movie theater. With that in mind, here are a few of the more hotly-anticipated titles from this year’s festival.
The Psychology Triumvirate
Psychology buffs rejoice! This year’s Sundance is presenting three movies that might someday be found in a Psych 101 course syllabus. From the U.S. Dramatic Competition, »
- J.R. Kinnard
6 items from 2015
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